FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2014
Benjamin Mallott – 907.263.1308
Alaska Federation of Natives Opposes SJR 21
Anchorage, AK – On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) passed a resolution opposing Alaska State Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 21. SJR 21 seeks to amend Alaska’s Constitution to increase the number of members on the Alaska Judicial Council (Council), which screens and nominates judicial candidates.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the Council has failed to function effectively or efficiently in performing its duties, or to suggest that a change to the Alaska State Constitution is warranted,” said AFN President Julie Kitka.
The Council is currently composed of seven members: three attorneys, three non-attorneys, and the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court. SJR 21 seeks to triple this number to 16 by providing for five attorneys, 10 non-attorneys, and Alaska’s Chief Justice in an effort to purportedly increase regional representation, and guard against attorney dominance. While AFN would like to see improvements in the council, the proposed improvements do not warrant a constitutional amendment. SJR 21 is sponsored by Senator Pete Kelly, Senator Cathy Giessel, Senator Mike Dunleavy, and Senator Lesil McGuire.
The Alaska Judicial Council is an independent citizens’ commission created by the Alaska Constitution to screen applicants for judicial vacancies, nominate the most qualified applicants for appointment to the bench by the governor, evaluate the performance of sitting judges, recommend to voters whether certain judges should be retained for another term, and conduct research to improve the administration of justice in Alaska.
The AFN Legislative and Litigation Committee resolution can be found here