Judicial Council Holding Hearing On Judge Retention

The public will get a special opportunity to talk about judges next week as the Alaska Judicial Council will hold a statewide hearing to get opinions on the 26 judges up for retention votes this fall.

Under the Constitution, judges from time-to-time must stand for a vote for the public to decide if they should be kept in the job.  The term varies by court level and — except for appellate benches – the elections come from the judicial district in which the judge works.

Larry Cohn, the council’s executive director, says the hearing is in preparation for the Council to focus attention on judges who must undergo scrutiny this year.

“The judicial council will be meeting in June. And at that point, the council will be deciding on its recommendations to voters about whether judges should be retained in office for another term.  We will publicize those recommendations most likely in July. And of course, they’re included in the statewide election pamphlet that goes to every household in the state,” Cohn said.

Cohn says public comments about specific judges are accepted at any time, but the current hearing will be a reminder for this election cycle.  He says it is uncommon for the council to recommend against retention, however there has been one judge in each of the last three election years – and two of them were turned down by voters.

The hearings will take place at Legislative Information Offices around the state on Wednesday at noon.

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