Why aren’t there more Alaska Native defenders, prosecutors and judges?

A listener posed a question for Justice Alaska on Hometown Alaska and we tackled it on this week’s show. Where are the Alaska Native defenders, prosecutors and judges in our state’s judicial system? What would justice in Alaska look like if there were more robust representation of Alaska Natives throughout the process?

Sigvanna (Megan) Topkok, staff attorney for Kawerak in Nome.

In conversations with local attorneys to prepare for the show, some said the pipeline of Alaska Native lawyers is just too small to propel them to the bench. Others thought that too simplistic, explaining Alaska Native lawyers may hold different cultural values on arguing in court or passing judgment from a raised dias.

We’ll explore these questions and discuss efforts to change the makeup of the judicial bench so it more accurately reflects the community it serves. Listeners questions and comments are always welcome — please join us.

Nicole Borromeo, AFN Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy, in for Elaine Andrews.

GUESTS:

  • Nicole Borromeo, AFN Executive Vice President and General Counsel
  • Sigvanna (Megan) Topkok, staff attorney for the tribal consortium Kawerak in Nome
  • Joel Bolger, Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court

LINKS:

  • Link to an interview of then retired Alaska Native Superior Court Judge Roy Madsen by Arthur Snowden on his time in the judiciary, especially his view on tribal courts. UAF Jukebox Oral History Project.
  • Link to an interview with Bethel District Court Judge Nora Guinn, who often gave her judgments in Yupik. UAF Jukebox Oral History Project.

PARTICIPATE:

Chief Justice Joel Bolger, Alaska Supreme Court.
  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2-3 p.m.)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (E-mails may be read on air).
  • Post your comment or question below (Comments may be read on air).
  • LIVE: Monday, April 19, 2021 at 10 a.m.
  • RE-AIR: Monday, Aprll 19, 2021 at 8 p.m.
  • PODCAST: Available on this page after the program.