Judicial Council Proposal Draws Pushback

A statewide group is fighting a proposed change in Alaska’s judge selection process pushed by a Fairbanks Senator.

“Justice Not Politics Alaska” director Heather Arnett says the group is opposed to Republican Pete Kelly’s resolution, which proposes doubling the number of public members appointed by the governor, to the Judicial Council, which selects state judge candidates.

“It introduces a major political influence into how judges become judges in Alaska,” she said.

Senator Kelly’s resolution proposes increasing the number of governor appointed and legislatively confirmed public members on the judicial council from three to six.

Kelly was unavailable for comment, but an opinion piece on his website, points out that the Judicial Council is also made up of three Alaska Bar Association appointed attorneys, who are not subject to gubernatorial or legislative approval.

He calls the arrangement “lawyers choosing lawyers to referee other lawyers”. Kelly’s SJR 3 requires passage by 2 thirds of the House and Senate. It would then have to go before voters.

Members of Justice Not Politics Alaska include former State Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti.