The Alaska Judicial Council, a small but extremely powerful group that controls placement of all judges in Alaska – says it wants to hear from rank-and-file Alaskans regarding the suitability of 30 judges up for retention elections this year.

After hearing from Alaskans and soliciting feedback from lawyers and court workers the council will give its recommendations on whether voters should keep or oust certain justices in November.

To be clear, voters can only decide whether to keep current judges. They have no power over who is seated in the first place. The Judicial Council has exclusive power to select who the governor can choose from when appointing any and all state judges.

This unelected, seven-member body includes three members appointed by the governor and approved by the Legislature, three members appointed by the Alaska Bar Association, and the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court – also a member of the Bar.

Conservatives have long complained it’s nearly impossible to seat a constitutionalist judge because the left-leaning Bar Association always enjoys a 4-3 majority in the Judicial Council.

Many conservatives have argued that it’s time to change the process to allow Alaskans to either directly elect judges, or let the governor appoint them with legislative approval, the way the president and U.S. Senate currently operate.

But that requires amending the Alaska constitution.

Those who wish to weigh in on the current crop of judges who are up for retention in November can do so on May 4, at 4:30 p.m., during a statewide public hearing.

Members of the public are invited to participate by Zoom videoconference with meeting ID 896 4016 9536 and passcode 662415 or by calling 833-548-0276 with meeting ID 896 4016 9536 and passcode 662415 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. They may also send an email to or write to:

Alaska Judicial Council

510 L St., Suite 450

Anchorage, AK 99501

“The Council is interested to hear about the judges’ legal ability, fairness, diligence, integrity, temperament, and overall performance,” a notice from the Council states. “The Council will vote on its retention recommendations on May 12, 2022.”


Appellate Courts

— Bethany Harbison Court of Appeals

— First Judicial District

— Amy Gurton Mead Juneau Superior Court

— Jude Pate Sitka Superior Court

— Daniel Schally Juneau Superior Court

— Kirsten Swanson Juneau District Court

Third Judicial District

— John C. Cagle Palmer Superior Court

— Catherine M. Easter Anchorage Superior Court

— Una Sonia Gandbhir Anchorage Superior Court

— Josie Garton Anchorage Superior Court

— Jason Gist Kenai Superior Court

— Lance Joanis Kenai Superior Court

— Kari Kristiansen Palmer Superior Court

— Erin B. Marston Anchorage Superior Court

— Thomas A. Matthews Anchorage Superior Court

— Andrew Peterson Anchorage Superior Court

— Peter Ramgren Anchorage Superior Court

— Kevin M. Saxby Anchorage Superior Court

— Kristen C. Stohler Palmer Superior Court

— Stephen B. Wallace Kodiak Superior Court

— Jo-Ann M. Chung Anchorage District Court

— Brian K. Clark Anchorage District Court

— Martin C. Fallon Kenai District Court

— Tom V. Jamgochian Palmer District Court

— David A. Nesbett Anchorage District Court

— Shawn Traini Palmer District Court

Fourth Judicial District

— Brent Bennett Fairbanks Superior Court

— Terrence Haas Bethel Superior Court

— Earl Peterson Fairbanks Superior Court

— Thomas Temple Fairbanks Superior Court

— Ben Seekins Fairbanks District Court

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Judicial Council to hear complaints on judges up for election

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • RL says:

    Well.. The council only has a 4 to 3 imbalance, biased in favor of the judges.. It’s my opinion that this “un-elected” panel needs to be done away with.. This may be a part of the reason that the Ranked Choice Voting system challenge was tossed.. When I am told that I MUST place an “X” by “all” of the candidate’s names in order for my vote to count, I firmly believe that is unconstitutional… That “X” says that I approve of their candidacy in my voting options..

  • Ruth Ewig says:

    I agree with RL. Also, if the judges are not originalists, meaning they follow the US Constitution they will not rule justly. They will do what feels right to them.
    There should have been no question about the wrongness of Rank File, and the wrongness of allowing voters to not need to show valid identification during COVID. Most of the Alaskan judges are corrupt and do not follow our US Constitution when ruling. Those who make truthful judgments are not promoted but ignored. This is the “good ol’ boy” system.