Alaska Justice Forum 21(3), Fall 2004

The Fall 2004 issue of the Alaska Justice Forum featured articles on judicial selection in Alaska and other state courts in the U.S.; civil cases in Alaska and other state courts in the U.S.; gender equality in justice professions; and volunteers in Alaska youth courts and other justice agencies.

"A Look at Judicial Selection in Alaska" by Antonia Moras

An overview of the judicial selection and retention process in Alaska reveals a balance of interests in the formal structure of the appointment process, with opportunities provided for participation by all three branches of government as well as the public. The framework was intentionally established in the Alaska Constitution to avoid a politicized judiciary, with the Alaska Judicial Council established as an independent body bearing the pivotal responsibility for determining the makeup of the judiciary. Over the last several decades, the administration of the process by the Judicial Council has become very broadly based and transparent, with input on candidates solicited from many directions, in many forms. This article describes Alaska's processes of judicial selection and retention and discusses recent criticism of the process and Judicial Council research on its own procedures. A brief listing of websites and other references relevant to judicial selection is provided.

"Civil Trial Outcomes in 2001"

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released figures showing a detailed picture of the realities of civil trial outcomes. Overall, the number of civil trials in the U.S. and the median jury trial award have decreased substantially since the early 1990s, and extremely large awards are made in very few cases. This article summarizes the Bureau of Justice Statistics findings.

"Civil Cases in Alaska: 1999–2000" by Teresa W. Carns

A report published by the Alaska Judicial Council in 2001 gives a snapshot of civil case data from June 1, 1999 through December 1, 2000 — about one and one-half years. The purpose of the analysis was to describe the characteristics of Alaska cases, and to provide a baseline of information about them for other research. This article summarizes major findings of the report Alaska Civil Cases June 1999–December 2000. The Council’s findings showed that most cases ended with a settlement, Another 18 percent were dismissed, and 16 percent ended with a default or other type of judgment (including trials).

"Gender Equality in Justice Professions" by Pamela Kelley

The issue of gender equality in the justice system is still relevant in the eyes of the bench, bar, paralegals and students, as is shown by a discussion held at University of Alaska Anchorage cosponsored by the Alaska Bar Association’s Gender Equality Section, the UAA Justice Center and the Women’s Studies Program. This article desribes the panel session moderated by Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe in early November 2004 to identify and deconstruct stereotypes encountered in the legal profession.

"Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers in Alaska Justice Agencies" by André B. Rosay

Youth courts are specialized pre-adjudication programs that divert first-time nonviolent juvenile offenders away from the formal juvenile justice system. With the exception of program directors and limited staff, youth courts are operated by volunteers who act as prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and bailiffs. Consequently, the effectiveness of a youth court is dependent upon its ability to recruit and maintain volunteers. This article summarizes the findings of a study in Anchorage, Alaska to assess how to improve volunteer recruitment and sustainability in youth courts. Many of the results from this evaluation are relevant for any agency that seeks to recruit and maintain skilled volunteers and interns.

"Judicial Selection in the U.S"

Across the country the methods for choosing state and local judges basically break down into two categories—elective or appointive. But these two broad classifications contain variants with substantive differences. Elections can be partisan or non-partisan and appointive systems can vest the power solely in the governor or legislature or use some sort of screening and nominating process in a merit selection plan such as Alaska employs. In addition, states sometimes use different procedures for different levels of their court systems. This article describes the methods used by the various states and localities to select judges.

"Native Issues Articles Reprinted"

Two articles on Alaska Native justice issues that originally appeared in the Alaska Justice Forum have been reprinted in the Altamira Press Tribal Legal Studies Textbook Series.

"Justice Center Projects Funded"

Announcing funding of several Justice Center research projects