Politics

Gov. Dunleavy picks chief assistant attorney general for Alaska Supreme Court

160204MedicaidDSC_7706.JPG-1454624083

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named Dario Borghesan, a chief assistant attorney general in the Alaska Department of Law, to a vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court.

Dunleavy announced his selection in a written statement Wednesday morning, picking Borghesan from among four attorneys nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council in May. Reached briefly by phone, Borghesan said he was told of the news by Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. He declined an interview.

Borghesan replaces Craig Stowers, who retired from the court June 1. The three other candidates, all Superior Court judges, were Dani Crosby, Jennifer Stuart Henderson and Yvonne Lamoureux.

Asked why he picked Borghesan, Dunleavy provided a written statement through deputy communications director Jeff Turner: “Throughout his entire career Mr. Borghesan has demonstrated outstanding legal and analytical skills and a thorough understanding of Alaska law. Of the four nominees forwarded to me by the Alaska Judicial Council, it was my pleasure to appoint him to the state’s highest court where I have no doubt he will faithfully serve the people of Alaska.”

Dunleavy’s most prominent legal critic, Juneau attorney and former longtime assistant attorney general Elizabeth Bakalar, offered her congratulations after the pick, saying Borghesan was a former colleague.

“He will be a conscientious and thoughtful Alaskan jurist for years to come,” she said on social media.

For his first selection to the state’s highest court, Dunleavy picked one of the Department of Law’s experts on appeals and civil matters. When he became one of eight applicants for the Supreme Court vacancy earlier this year, Borghesan was head of the opinions, appeals and ethics section of the Alaska Department of Law.

ADVERTISEMENT

That section oversees all civil court appeals and attorney general opinions. It’s also the section in charge of interpreting and enforcing the Executive Branch Ethics Act and is responsible for coordinating the department’s work on Native issues.

Borghesan graduated from Amherst College in 2002 and served in the Peace Corps after graduation, according to his application to the Supreme Court. Stationed in the African nation of Togo, he volunteered through 2004, then worked as a waiter. He attended the University of Michigan law school, working during that time at the school’s law clinic for poor clients and briefly for the ACLU of Michigan, as well as a New York City law firm. He graduated with honors in 2008, and arrived in Alaska soon afterward.

In Alaska, he worked as a clerk for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree, then in the Department of Law as a special assistant to attorney general (now U.S. senator) Dan Sullivan, before becoming an assistant attorney general.

Writing in his application to the Supreme Court, Borghesan said he believes it is important for the court to adhere to “judicial values.”

Among the most important of those is “independence from partisan politics,” he wrote.

Borghesan is married with two boys and a dog named Rocko. He’s a member of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage and the Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. He also volunteers at his children’s day care.

James Ord, a hunting and skiing partner who wrote a letter of recommendation for Borghesan, called him a “middle of the road kind of guy” who doesn’t go into things with preconceived notions.

“That’s what I thought was going to make him an excellent choice for the position, was that ability to look at that situation holistically, check the assumptions and put them aside,” Ord said.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

James Brooks

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

Sponsored