Voting For Judges
To the editor: The other day I had the opportunity to learn how judges are evaluated for retention. I knew the Alaska Constitution required a vote of the people for sitting judges, but I didn’t know anything about judges.
State law requires the Alaska Judicial Council to evaluate each judge for retention and to give voters information about judges’ performance. Our Alaska Judicial Council is a model for 25 other states because of its transparency, engagement and fairness.
Judicial retention elections are nonpartisan. Judges standing for retention do not run against anyone; instead, they run to retain their positions.
Members of the council are volunteers who come from different areas of Alaska. Three are nonattorneys who are appointed by the governor, and three are attorneys appointed by the Alaska Bar Association. The chief justice of the Alaska Supreme court serves as chairperson. The Alaska Constitution provides that council members be appointed “without regard to political affiliation.” The council meets for a whole week four times a year and members serve for six years. The members believe that anyone who comes before a judge should get a fair shake from a quality judge.
The council evaluates judges on integrity, legal ability, impartiality and fairness, judicial temperament, diligence and administrative skills, and overall judicial performance. The council uses many methods to collect information about judges’ performance in these areas, including surveys, questionnaires, record reviews, public hearings.
This year there are 29 judges up for a retention vote. All 29 have been evaluated and get a “yes” vote. Keep in mind that it’s detrimental to vote “no” because you don’t know the judge or don’t like judges in general. Also fill out the whole ballot. View the performance evaluation at www.ajc.state.ak.us/retention/current.html.
I feel confident about voting for judges now that I know.
Cathleen Rolph – Soldotna
Source: Daily News-Miner