Crime & Courts

Gov. Dunleavy appoints Bethel judge to be top public defender and Anchorage judge to Superior Court

A judge who has served at the Bethel Superior Court has been named by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to lead the state Public Defender Agency.

Judge Terrence Haas worked as a public defender in Bethel for more than a decade before he was appointed as a Superior Court judge in the city in 2018. Haas replaces Samantha Cherot, whose four-year term expires this month.

Haas has lived in Alaska for 15 years and serves as the presiding judge for the Fourth Judicial District, which includes the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and the Interior.

Dunleavy chose Haas over Gary Soberay, an assistant public defender in Anchorage. They were the two nominees put forward by the Alaska Judicial Council, which vetted 10 applicants for the position. Dunleavy is required under state law to choose one of multiple candidates nominated by the council, which includes members chosen by the governor and the Alaska Bar Association, along with Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Peter Maassen.

Along with Haas’ appointment, the governor’s office announced Dunleavy has selected David Nesbett to serve as a Superior Court judge in Anchorage. Nesbett has served as a District Court judge in the city since 2019.

Nesbett was one of four nominated by the Judicial Council. The other nominees, who all live in Anchorage, were Assistant Attorney General Kate Demarest, District Court Judge Kari Lyn McCrea and private practice attorney Danée Pontious.

The Judicial Council is accepting applications for Superior Court judge positions in Juneau and Sitka, with a deadline of Sept. 29.

Originally published by the Alaska Beacon, an independent, nonpartisan news organization that covers Alaska state government.