Crime & Courts

Gov. Dunleavy names 3 new judges, including one for Anchorage

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named the head of the criminal division of the Alaska Department of Law to a vacant Superior Court judgeship in Anchorage.

Jack McKenna will replace Jennifer Stuart Henderson, whom Dunleavy appointed to the Alaska Supreme Court in July. McKenna was one of five nominees selected by the Alaska Judicial Council from among seven applicants for the vacancy.

Dunleavy’s office announced the decision by email Thursday evening. A spokesman for the governor said he did not know what criteria Dunleavy used to make his pick but that the governor selected those he believed were the best candidates from the list sent to him by the judicial council.

McKenna was raised in Northern California and attended law school at the University of California Davis before coming to Alaska in 2007 to work as a judicial clerk.

He returned to California to work at an environmental law firm but then came back to Alaska, where he worked in private practice, as an assistant district attorney for Anchorage and as the head of the state’s Office of Special Prosecutions, the agency that investigates shootings by police.

When Alaska attorneys were asked to grade McKenna and the other judicial applicants on their suitability for a judgeship, McKenna tied with fellow applicants Laura Hartz and Christina Rankin for the highest rating among the seven applicants.

In Juneau, Dunleavy named attorney Marianna Carpeneti to a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Philip Pallenberg. Carpeneti is the daughter of former Alaska Supreme Court Justice Bud Carpeneti. Born and raised in Juneau, she graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 2012 and has been a private practice attorney in Homer.

For an Utqiagvik Superior Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Judge Nelson Traverso, Dunleavy selected David Roghair, who has been a magistrate judge in the city since 2015. Roghair previously served as a magistrate in Tok and worked in private practice in rural Alaska.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.