As a lawyer often involved in election disputes, I understand more than most the difference between strongly-held political views and the demands of the rule of law. They are quite different, yet many would have us confuse them, suggesting that politics should overrule the law and facts of a given case. To me, this approach makes judges beholden those with political power, not the oath they take to uphold the law.
If Alaskans want judges who are as strong and independent as the Alaskans they serve, then they have an obligation to recognize the threat that special interests can have on fair and impartial courts. I want to be judged by judges who have the courage to apply the law.
As a lifelong Alaskan, I am proud that Alaska’s judges embody the highest principles of their calling. Alaskans benefit from judges who are fair, impartial and independent, and who look only to the law for guidance in their decision-making, without regard to political winds or ideological pressures from any direction.
My work as an attorney sometimes took me across the country, and I came to greatly appreciate Alaska’s merit system for selecting – and retaining – judges. It has ensured Alaskans that our judges remain focused on making decisions that are based on the law, without fear of reprisal from political or special interests. Alaskans deserve independent, fair judges who follow the law regardless of pressure to do otherwise.
As a retired lawyer and former businesswoman, I recognize the vital importance of courts that honor our basic rights and freedoms, however controversial. Unlike political fortunes, which change constantly, the fundamental principles that courts uphold must survive political storms or be rendered meaningless. Judges who defend these principles in the face of public clamor should be supported, not lose their jobs.”
My mother worked in the court system, and through her, I learned a lot about the Alaska court system. As an adult, I came to appreciate the quality of the judges who serve on our courts. Our Constitution ensures that our judges are independent from political pressures and partisan ideals. Independent judges assure us that cases will be decided fairly and according to the law. As a lifelong Alaskan, I want to protect judicial independence, which will protect the future of Alaska and our way of life
Having provided legal and judicial services in three states and fourteen tribes for the past 31 years, I firmly believe people expect to be treated fairly and without bias when they enter a justice system, whether it is civil or criminal, no matter if it is tribal, state or federal. Judges have the job of ensuring the law is impartially applied without any outside personal or political influence and that the most just outcome is rendered. Alaska’s current nomination, selection and evaluation system accomplishes just that. Independent, fair and qualified judges get the job done.
As a retired career Alaska police officer and chief of police, I believe we must protect the fairness and independence of our state judges from extreme partisan “winner takes all” views that are destroying our democracy. Alaskans are best served by judges who are fair and independent and who make decisions based on the law, not based on special interests.
As a former member of the Alaska Judicial Council, I know we can count on the non-partisan citizen council to thoroughly examine how judges perform their duties. I have confidence in the Judicial Council’s recommendations on judges. Monied special interests should not determine who sits on our courts.
I have been a commercial fisherman and businessman in Alaska for 53 years, and served in the State House representing the Kenai Peninsula from 2003 to 2018. I served in leadership on numerous committees, including State Affairs, Resources, Education and Finance. Having studied judicial systems in other states, I find that the judicial selection and retention system in Alaska is superior to others. Our merit-based system avoids the corruption and conflict of interest inherent in systems utilizing political appointment or popular elections found in other states and in the federal judiciary. Judges appointed from a “most qualified” pool, followed by periodic “retention” elections, provides accountability. Renewed terms of service through retention, coupled with mandatory retirement at age 70, ensures Alaskans that our judiciary does not become stale. The foresight of the selection and retention system created by our constitutional framers benefits all Alaskans, and I continue to work to ensure that Alaska will maintain its highly qualified and impartial judiciary.
Everyone’s life is touched by the judicial system, including workers. A fair and impartial judiciary is fundamental to Alaskans’ ability to protect themselves in their place of work. Fair and independent courts are the bedrock for protecting all of the rights that Alaskans count on every day of our lives.
Alaskans for Fair Courts
Donna Goldsmith, Chair
Elaine Andrews, Board Member
Tom Amodio, Treasurer
Bruce Botelho, Board Member
Joelle Hall, Board Member
Barb Hood, Board Member
Debra O’Gara, Board Member
Erin Jackson-Hill, Board Member
Chuck Kopp, Board Member
Joelle Hall, Board Member
Paul Seaton, Board Member
Ray R. Brown
Rene J. Gonzalez
Mark I. Wood