RETAIN | 6 - 0
Jennifer K. Wells
Kenai Superior Court | Third Judicial District
Judge Wells was appointed to the Kenai Superior Court in February of 2017. This is her first retention evaluation. Judge Wells handles both civil and criminal cases.
After conducting its performance review, the Judicial Council determined that Judge Wells met or exceeded performance standards on all criteria, including legal ability, integrity, impartiality/fairness, temperament, diligence, and administrative skills.
The Council also determined that Judge Wells met or exceeded educational requirements set by the Alaska Supreme Court.
Because Judge Wells met or exceeded all performance and professional development standards, the Alaska Judicial Council recommends a “yes” vote on retention in office.
The Council conducts a thorough performance review of each judge standing for retention. Key findings for Judge Wells include:
- Ratings by justice system professionals: Attorneys and law enforcement officers who appeared before Judge Wells gave her good reviews, as did court employees. The chart shows the survey ratings received by Judge Wells.
- Ratings by jurors: Jurors who served in trials before Judge Wells during 2018 and 2019 rated her 4.9 overall on a five-point scale. One juror commented, “I am impressed by the judge and lawyers. Everybody did their job.”
- Professional activities: The Council’s review of Judge Wells’s professional activities showed exceptional contributions to her community and to the administration of justice. Judge Wells served as a Training Judge and evaluator for magistrate judges. She served as the Deputy Presiding Judge for the Kenai Peninsula, handing administrative matters for courts in Homer, Kenai, and Seward. She was a member of the court system’s Family Law Rules Committee, and the Three-Judge Sentencing Panel (a panel that reviews criminal sentences in special situations). She was active in projects to improve the handling of family law issues. Judge Wells collaborated with the Kenaitze Indian Tribe to create the Henu Community Wellness Court, a therapeutic court in which tribal and state court judges work together using traditional Dena’ina values to promote the wellness of individuals charged with crimes and who are struggling with substance abuse issues.
- Other performance indicators: The Council’s review of other performance indicators, including Judge Wells’s financial and conflict of interest statements, disqualifications from cases, and appellate reversal rates, raised no performance concerns.
- Timeliness: Alaska law requires judges’ pay be withheld if a decision is pending longer than six months. The Council verified that Judge Wells was paid on schedule, and she certified that she had no untimely decisions.
- Ethics: There were no public disciplinary proceedings against Judge Wells, and the Council’s review found no ethical concerns.
Judge Wells’s Statements to the Public