Selection Law - Constitutional and Statutory Provisions Concerning Judicial Selection

Alaska Const. Article IV, Section 5. Nomination and Appointment

The governor shall fill any vacancy in an office of supreme court justice or superior court judge by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the judicial council.

Alaska Const. Article IV, Section 7. Vacancy

The office of any supreme court justice or superior court judge becomes vacant ninety days after the election at which he is rejected by a majority of those voting on the question, or for which he fails to file his declaration of candidacy to succeed himself.

AS 22.05.070. Qualifications of justices

A justice of the supreme court shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, a resident of the state for five years immediately preceding appointment, have been engaged for not less than eight years immediately preceding appointment in the active practice of law, and at the time of appointment be licensed to practice law in the state. The active practice of law includes sitting as a judge in a state or territorial court; being actually engaged in advising and representing clients in matters of law; rendering legal services to an agency, branch, or department of a civil government within the United States or a state or territory of the United States, in an elective, appointive or employed capacity; serving as a professor, associate professor, or assistant professor in a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

AS 22.05.080. Vacancies

(a) The governor shall fill a vacancy or appoint a successor to fill an impending vacancy in the office of supreme court justice within 45 days after receiving nominations from the judicial council, by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the judicial council for each actual or impending vacancy. An appointment to fill an impending vacancy becomes effective upon the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(b) The office of a supreme court justice, including the office of chief justice, becomes vacant 90 days after the election at which the justice is rejected by a majority of those voting on the question or for which the justice fails to file a declaration of candidacy. Upon the occurrence of (1) an actual vacancy; (2) the certification of rejection following an election; or (3) the election following failure of a justice to file a declaration of candidacy, the judicial council shall meet within 90 days and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office; except that this 90-day period may be extended by the council with the concurrence of the supreme court. In the event of an impending vacancy other than by reason of rejection or failure to file a declaration of candidacy, the council may meet at any time within the 90-day period immediately preceding the effective date of the vacancy and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office.

AS 22.07.040. Qualifications of judges

A judge of the court of appeals shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, a resident of the state for five years immediately preceding appointment, have been engaged for not less than eight years immediately preceding appointment in the active practice of law, and at the time of appointment be licensed to practice law in the state. For purposes of this section, the active practice of law is the same as defined for the justices of the supreme court in AS 22.05.070.

AS 22.07.070. Vacancies

(a) The governor shall fill a vacancy or appoint a successor to fill an impending vacancy in the office of judge of the court of appeals within 45 days after receiving nominations from the judicial council, by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the council for each actual or impending vacancy. An appointment to fill an impending vacancy becomes effective upon the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(b) The office of a judge of the court of appeals becomes vacant 90 days after the election at which the judge is rejected by a majority of those voting on the question or for which the judge fails to file a declaration of candidacy. Upon the occurrence of (1) an actual vacancy; (2) the certification of rejection following an election; or (3) the election following failure of a judge to file a declaration of candidacy, the judicial council shall meet within 90 days and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office; however, the 90-day period may be extended by the judicial council with the concurrence of the supreme court. In the event of an impending vacancy other than by reason of rejection or failure to file a declaration of candidacy, the judicial council may meet at any time within the 90-day period immediately preceding the effective date of the vacancy and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office.

AS 22.10.090. Qualifications of judges

A judge of the superior court shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, a resident of the state for five years immediately preceding appointment, have been engaged for not less than five years immediately preceding appointment in the active practice of law, and at the time of appointment be licensed to practice law in the state. The active practice of law shall be as defined for justices of the supreme court in AS 22.05.070.

AS 22.10.100. Vacancies

(a) The governor shall fill a vacancy or appoint a successor to fill an impending vacancy in the office of superior court judge within 45 days after receiving nominations from the judicial council, by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the council for each actual or impending vacancy. An appointment to fill an impending vacancy becomes effective upon the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(b) The office of a superior court judge becomes vacant 90 days after the election at which the judge is rejected by a majority of those voting on the question or for which the judge fails to file a declaration of candidacy. Upon the occurrence of (1) an actual vacancy; (2) the certification of rejection following an election; or (3) the election following failure of a judge to file a declaration of candidacy, the judicial council shall meet within 90 days and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office; except that this 90-day period may be extended by the council with the concurrence of the supreme court. In the event of an impending vacancy other than by reason of rejection or failure to file a declaration of candidacy, the council may meet at any time within the 90-day period immediately preceding the effective date of the vacancy and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office.

AS 22.10.120. Number of judges

The superior court consists of 40 judges, five of whom shall be judges in the first judicial district, three of whom shall be judges in the second judicial district, 24 of whom shall be judges in the third judicial district, and eight of whom shall be judges in the fourth judicial district. At the time of submitting the names of nominees to the governor to fill a vacancy on the superior court bench, the judicial council shall also designate the district in which the appointee is to reside and serve.

AS 22.15.020. Number of district judges and magistrates

(a) Except as hereinafter provided, each district court of the state shall have the number of district judges set out below opposite the name of the judicial district over which the court has jurisdiction:

First Judicial District ................... 3

Second Judicial District ............. 1

Third Judicial District ................ 12

Fourth Judicial District ............... 3

(b) Except as hereinafter provided, each district court of the State of Alaska shall have the number of magistrates set out below opposite the name of the judicial district over which the court has jurisdiction:

First Judicial District .................. 10

Second Judicial District .............. 7

Third Judicial District ................. 19

Fourth Judicial District ............... 17

(c) The number of district judges or magistrates within each judicial district may be increased or decreased by rule of the supreme court.

AS 22.15.160. Qualifications of district judges and magistrates

(a) A district judge shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, at least 21 years of age, a resident of the state for at least five years immediately preceding appointment, and (1) have been engaged in the active practice of law for not less than three years immediately preceding appointment and at the time of appointment licensed to practice law in the State of Alaska; or (2) have served for at least seven years as a magistrate in the state. The supreme court may prescribe additional qualifications.

(b) A magistrate shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, at least 21 years of age, and a resident of the state for at least six months immediately preceding appointment. The supreme court may prescribe additional qualifications.

AS 22.15.170. Selection of district judges and magistrates

(a) The governor shall fill a vacancy or appoint a successor to fill an impending vacancy in an office of district judge within 45 days after receiving nominations from the judicial council by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the council for each actual or impending vacancy. The appointment to fill an impending vacancy becomes effective upon the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(b) The presiding judge of the superior court in each judicial district may appoint acting district judges as needed to serve at the pleasure of the presiding judge for a term of no longer than 12 months or until succeeded by an appointment made under (a) of this section, whichever first occurs. An acting district judge shall be a citizen of the United States and of the state, at least 21 years of age, but need not be licensed to practice law in any of the United States and need not have established Alaska residence before appointment. Service as an acting district judge is not considered a judicial service for the purposes of AS 22.25 unless the judge is subsequently appointed under (a) of this section.

(c) The presiding judge of the superior court in each judicial district shall appoint the magistrates for the district court for the judicial district. Each magistrate serves at the pleasure of the presiding judge of the superior court in the judicial district for which appointed.

(d) Vacancies for magistrates shall be filled in the same manner as appointments.

(e) The office of a district court judge becomes vacant 90 days after the election at which the judge is rejected by a majority of those voting on the question or for which the judge fails to file a declaration of candidacy. Upon the occurrence of (1) an actual vacancy; (2) the certification of rejection following an election; or (3) the election following failure of a judge to file a declaration of candidacy, the judicial council shall meet within 90 days and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office; except that this 90-day period may be extended by the council with the concurrence of the supreme court. In the event of an impending vacancy other than by reason of rejection or failure to file a declaration of candidacy, the council may meet at any time within the 90-day period immediately preceding the effective date of the vacancy and submit to the governor the names of two or more persons qualified for the judicial office.

AS 22.25.010. Retirement of justices and judges

(a) A justice or judge shall be retired on the date that the justice or judge reaches the age of 70. A justice or judge is eligible for retirement pay with five or more years of service at the time of retirement as a justice or judge.

(b) A justice or judge may be retired for incapacity as provided in this section. A justice or judge is eligible for retirement pay with two or more years of service at the time of retirement for incapacity. The effective date of retirement under this subsection is the first day of the month coinciding with or after the date that the governor files written notice with the commissioner of administration that a designated justice or judge was retired for incapacity. A duplicate copy of the notice shall be filed with the Judicial Council.

(c) A justice or judge who served for a period of five years may file with the governor a written application for retirement which contains a sworn statement of service and a sworn statement of the incapacity of the justice or judge to efficiently perform the judicial duties. When an application is filed, the governor shall appoint a board of three persons to inquire into the circumstances, and may, upon the board's recommendation, retire the justice or judge. The effective date of the retirement shall be as provided in (b) of this section.

(d) A justice or judge may voluntarily retire at any time and shall have a vested right to accrued retirement pay if the justice or judge has served five or more years. Retirement pay may not commence until the justice or judge has reached age 60; except that an actuarially equivalent retirement pay may be commenced after the justice or judge has reached age 55 or upon 20 years' service as a justice or judge. The provisions of (b) of this section are an exception to this rule. A justice or judge desiring to retire under this subsection shall file with the governor a notice of that desire, together with a sworn statement of the facts establishing eligibility to retire. The governor shall certify those facts to the commissioner of administration and declare, in writing, the eligibility or ineligibility for retirement of the justice or judge. If a justice or judge is eligible to receive retirement pay at the time of retirement, the retirement pay shall commence on the first day of the month coinciding with or after the date the written declaration of the governor is filed with the commissioner of administration. If a justice or judge is not eligible to receive retirement pay at the time of retirement, the retirement pay shall commence on the first day of the month the justice or judge reaches age 60 or the month the justice or judge becomes eligible for an actuarial equivalent if application was made for this option.

(e) Repealed.

(f) In the computation of service for retirement under this chapter, the time served by a justice or judge of any court is added to the time served, if any, on any other court. All service rendered by a justice or judge, including service as a magistrate or deputy magistrate, before July 1, 1967, shall be included in the computation.

(g) The word "justice" means a supreme court justice, and the word "judge," unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, means a judge of the court of appeals, a superior court judge, or district court judge.