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Politics

Eight apply for pending Alaska Supreme Court vacancy

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: February 15
  • Published February 14

Alaska Supreme Court. (Bill Roth / ADN archives)

JUNEAU — Five lower-court judges and three lawyers in the Department of Law are among the eight candidates to become the next justice on Alaska’s Supreme Court.

The eight applicants were announced Friday afternoon by the Alaska Judicial Council, a nonpartisan body that nominates finalists for judicial vacancies. Under the Alaska Constitution, the governor must fill a judicial vacancy from a list of nominees approved by the council.

The applicants:

Dario Borghesan, a chief assistant attorney general in Anchorage;

Dani Crosby, a Superior Court judge in Anchorage;

Kate Demarest, a senior assistant attorney general in Anchorage;

Jennifer Stuart Henderson, a Superior Court judge in Anchorage;

Yvonne Lamoureaux, a Superior Court judge in Anchorage;

Margaret Paton-Walsh, chief assistant attorney general in Anchorage;

Paul Roetman, a Superior Court judge in Kotzebue;

• and Jonathan Woodman, a Superior Court judge in Palmer.

All of the applicants have been involved in high-profile public cases.

Paton-Walsh is the state’s lead attorney in the ongoing case involving the recall campaign against the governor. Lamoureux recently oversaw a case questioning the legality of a ballot measure that seeks to impose ranked-choice voting in statewide elections. Demarest formerly worked as an attorney for one of the Fairbanks Four.

All eight are seeking to replace Supreme Court Justice Craig Stowers, who announced in January that he would retire effective July 1. Alaska’s constitution requires judges to retire at age 70, but Stowers said he was retiring early in order to blunt a wave of retirements that will affect the state’s high court between 2023 and 2025.

Without Stowers’ decision, Dunleavy might have gone his entire term without appointing a Supreme Court justice. The state’s next gubernatorial election is in 2022, and Dunleavy is also fighting an effort to recall him from office.

Eight attorneys also applied the last time a Supreme Court seat opened, and the judicial council picked four finalists. Fairbanks attorney Susan Carney was selected in 2016 from that group to replace Dana Fabe.

The judicial council consists of three attorneys appointed by the Alaska Bar Association and three non-attorneys appointed by the governor (and subject to confirmation by the Alaska Legislature). The Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court serves as the seventh member but only votes in a tie.

Bar Association members will be asked about the eight applicants’ performance in court and in public, then the council will conduct a series of public and private interviews in May. Public testimony will also be taken at that time.

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