A new bill introduced by Rep. Christopher Kurka (R-Wasilla) looks to reduce some of the extraordinary power which the left-leaning Alaska Bar Association has in determining who’s qualified to practice law or become a judge in Alaska.
Essentially, Kurka’s House Bill 194 aims to reform the way people are selected to serve on the Alaska Bar Association Board of Governors, a body that controls the majority of Alaska Judicial Council which vets all judicial candidates that the governor can choose from in filling judicial vacancies, including those on the Alaska Supreme Court.
“It is simply unacceptable that the Alaska Bar Association is essentially a self-regulating body,” Kurka said in a prepared statement. “The Alaska Bar Association has complete control over the selection of judges in the State of Alaska. It escapes me why we would turn over control of an entire branch of State government to a private lawyers club.”
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Currently, Alaska Bar Association membership elects nine of the 12 members of the Board of Governors which, among other things, serves as the gatekeeper for occupational licensing for the practice of law in Alaska. It also has a permanent controlling majority on the seven-member Alaska Judicial Council that determines which candidates the governor can choose from among when appointing new judges. The other three members of the Judicial Council are appointed by the governor and subject to legislative confirmation.
Kurka’s bill looks to provide a measure of accountability to the public by shifting the selection process for who gets to sit on the Board of Governor’s away from the Alaska Bar Association itself and instead allowing the governor to select members who would then be subject to legislative confirmation.
“No branch of government should be unaccountable to the people,” Kurka said. “Such constructions lend themselves to corruption and cronyism. There might be a place for the Good ‘Ole Boys Club, but it’s not in state government.”
HB 194 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.