Meet Chief Justice Joel Bolger, Alaska Supreme Court

Chief Justice Joel Bolger delivers the 2019 State of the Judiciary in February 2019 before the Alaska Legislature. (Photo by KTOO Public Media)

Joel Bolger has served on the Alaska Supreme Court since 2013, and was selected by fellow judges to serve three years as its Chief Justice beginning in 2019.

The Alaska Supreme Court hears appeals from lower state courts, meeting monthly in Anchorage and quarterly in Fairbanks and Juneau. The Supreme Court also administers the state’s court system. The only court its decisions can be appealed to is the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bolger has broad legal and judicial experience throughout Alaska, including serving appointments to all four levels of the Alaska court system.

Shortly after graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1978, Bolger came to Alaska to serve as a VISTA volunteer attorney in Dillingham. He has said that growing up in small town Iowa was good preparation for living and working in rural Alaska.

His legal work took him across the state. He supervised an Alaska Legal Services office in Kodiak and worked as a public defender in Barrow in the early 1980s, and worked in private practice with Jamin, Ebell, Bolger & Gentry through 1997. That firm was involved in Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation, an experience that attracted him to the judiciary. He was appointed as a District Court Judge in Valdez in 1997, a Superior Court Judge in Kodiak in 2003, to the Court of Appeals in 2008, and to the Alaska Supreme Court in 2013.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome throughout the program. Join us to learn more about the role of the court and challenges the court system faces in Alaska.

HOSTS: Senior Judge Elaine Andrews and Kathleen McCoy


  • Chief Justice Joel Bolger, Alaska Supreme Court
  • Christine Johnson, Administrative Director, Alaska Court System



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  • LIVE: Monday, October 21, 2019 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, October 21, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.