Alaska Judicial Council Recommends All But 1 Judge For Retention

The Alaska Judicial Council has released its recommendations for retention of state District and Superior court judges. The judges will come up for vote on the November ballot.

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Suzanne DiPietro, executive director of the Council, says 13 of 14 state judges have been given the thumbs up. But one judge, William Estelle, who sits on the bench in Palmer, has not gained Judicial Council approval.

“Judge Estelle filed 16 untrue affidavits, under oath, from September 2011 through February, 2013, swearing that he had completed or issued decisions in all matters that had been pending before him, for more than six months, when in fact, he had not completed those decisions,” DiPietro said. “Judge Estelle continued to receive his salary on time, and that’s contrary to a state law that prohibits a judge from being paid on time if the judge has undecided matters outstanding for longer than six months.”

The Judicial Council concluded that by filing untrue affidavits, Judge Estelle failed to conduct himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary.

Judge Estelle was appointed in 2003. He has been approved in two previous retention elections, in 2006 and in 2010.

In April of this year, the Commission on Judicial Conduct filed formal charges against Judge Estelle, and, after a hearing, issued its findings and recommendations against his retention.

DiPietro says that only state judicial District Three voters will have an opportunity to vote for or against Judge Estelle. District Three encompasses Southcentral Alaska and Kodiak Island.