Presiding judges appointed for 2013

Chief Justice Dana Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court announces the appointment of four presiding judges: Superior Court Judge Trevor N. Stephens for the First Judicial District; Superior Court Judge Michael I. Jeffery for the Second Judicial District; Superior Court Judge Sen K. Tan for the Third Judicial District; and Superior Court Judge Michael A. MacDonald for the Fourth Judicial District.

The chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court appoints a presiding judge for each of the four judicial districts. The appointments are for a one year term and cover a calendar year period, and incumbents are eligible for reappointment.

In addition to regular judicial duties, the presiding judge of each judicial district has the administrative responsibility to supervise the assignment of cases and administrative actions of judges and court personnel, to keep current the business of courts, to review and recommend budgets, and to review the operation of the trial courts in the district to assure adherence to statewide court objectives and policies.

Judge Stephens was appointed to the superior court in Ketchikan in 2000. Prior to his appointment Judge Stephens worked in private practice, as an Assistant Public Defender, and as an Assistant District Attorney and District Attorney. He received both his undergraduate and law degree from Willamette University College of Law. He serves on the court system’s Family Rules Committee, the Statewide Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Court Improvement Project Committee. He is also a member of the Three Judge Sentencing Panel. He was born and raised in Ketchikan.

Judge Jeffery received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and he received his law degree from Yale Law School. He was on the Board of Editors of the Yale Law Journal while at Yale Law School. He was appointed to the superior court bench in Barrow in 1982. He was the supervising attorney for the Barrow office of Alaska Legal Services Corporation from 1977 to 1982. He has served as president of the Conference of Alaska Judges and on the Alaska Statewide Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Steering Committee, the Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, the Criminal Justice Assessment Commission, Alaska Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Partnership and as co-chair of the CINA/Delinquency Rules Committee during his tenure as a superior court judge. This will be Judge Jeffery’s first term as presiding judge since 2006. Judge Jeffery is replacing Judge Ben Esch who will be retiring in January of 2013. The Second Judicial District covers the most northern areas of the state and includes the superior courts in Barrow, Nome and Kotzebue.

Judge Sen K. Tan was appointed to the superior court in 1996. He earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Law from the University of Kent at Canterbury, in England in 1978 and he received his law degree from Northeastern School of Law in 1982. He came to Alaska in 1982 to work as a law clerk for Superior Court Judge Brian C. Shortell in Anchorage. He has remained in the public sector in Anchorage ever since; as an Assistant Public Defender from 1983-1989, then as an Assistant Attorney General from 1989-1996, and finally as a Superior Court Judge for the past 15 years. During his time on the bench he has served as Chair of the Civil Pattern Jury Instructions Committee, Co-Chair of the Child in Need of Aid Court Improvement Committee, and as a member of the Alaska Supreme Court’s Fairness, Diversity and Equality Committee, Domestic Violence Committee, and the Family Law Self-Help Committee.

Judge MacDonald received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1978 and his law degree from University of New Mexico in 1988. He was in private practice in Fairbanks from 1988 until his appointment to the Superior Court in 2007. Judge MacDonald is a member of the Family Law Rules Committee, Magistrates Training Committee, New Judge Training Committee, and Electronic Courts Committee. This will be Judge MacDonald’s first term as presiding judge. Judge MacDonald is to replace Judge Douglas Blankenship who is stepping down to devote more time to his cases. The Fourth Judicial District, with a population of about 133, 00, is administered from Fairbanks, and extends from the Canadian border on the east to the Bering Sea on the west, and includes Fairbanks, Tok, Delta Junction, Galena, Healy, Nenana and fort Yukon in the east and Bethel, Chevak, Hooper Bay, Aniak, St. Mary’s and Emmonak in the west.

Anchorage Court System press release