Dunleavy appoints Anchorage attorney as Alaska state public defender

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday appointed Anchorage attorney Samantha Cherot as Alaska’s new public defender.

Cherot, an assistant public defender in Anchorage, will take over from Beth Goldstein, who has been the state’s interim public defender since Quinlan Steiner announced his resignation in April.

In a written statement, the governor’s office said Cherot “stood out as someone with the presence, skill set, and experience to excel in this position. Not only was I impressed by her commitment to public service, but her focus and approach towards caseload management and prioritization.”

If confirmed by the Legislature, Cherot will serve a four-year term.

Cherot was one of three people on a short list of nominees approved by the Alaska Judicial Council in August. The public defender is the top official of the Alaska Public Defender Agency, which is in charge of defending Alaskans in court if they cannot afford to hire an attorney.

The selection process is similar to the one used to fill judicial vacancies:

The two other nominees for the job were Dan Lowery and Renee McFarland, both assistant public defenders in Anchorage.

In a biographical statement provided to the Alaska Judicial Council, Cherot said she was born and raised in Alaska, left to attend Santa Clara University and California Western School of Law, then returned to Alaska in 2009. She has worked in the criminal and civil division of the Public Defender Agency as a trial attorney.