The Alaska MERIT SELECTION System at Work, 1984-2007

By Carns, Teresa White | Judicature, November/December 2009 | Go to article overview

The Alaska MERIT SELECTION System at Work, 1984-2007


Carns, Teresa White, Judicature


Thirty-seven states now use merit selection to fill some or all of their vacancies.' Others aie considering adopting merit selection instead of their present methods. For all of these states, it is helpful to have detailed insight into how merit selection works in Alaska, one of the oldest merit selection systems in the country.2 A recent report by die Judicial Council analyzed data about applicants, nominees, and appointees for all judgeships between 1984 and 2007,* consistent with the Bren nan Center recommendation diat states should keep data about their judicial selection processes.* This article summarizes the findings from die Council's report.

The seven-member Alaska Judicial Council includes three non-attorneys appointed by the governor "subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the legislature in joint session," and three attorney members appointed "by the governing body of the organized state bar." The constitution requires that the appointments be made "with due consideration to area representation and without regard to political affiliation." Members serve staggered six-year terms. The chief justice of the supreme court, whose term lasts three years, is the chair ex officio. Membership of the Council has historically been both diverse and distinguished, including former legislators, attorneys general, participants at die constitutional convention, business leaders, and minority and Alaska Native leaders.

The constitution prohibits state and federal government employees from membership. Because most prosecutors and public criminal defense attorneys are employed by the state rather than local governments, this limits their participation. Attorney members over the years have represented both plaintiff and defense interests, and included specialists in family and criminal law.

The selection process

Alaska is still one of the smallest states, aldiough its population grew by 30 percent in die years covered by the Council's research, from about 524,000 in 1984 to 683,478 in 2007. The Judicial Council is responsible for the merit selection process for 40 superior court judges (general jurisdiction), 21 district court judges (limited jurisdiction), and 8 appellate judges. As a result of turnover among judges and creation of new positions, the Council's workload increased from an average of 3.8 vacancies per year in the mid-1980s to an average of 7.2 vacancies per year between 2003 and 2007. The average number of attorneys applying for each vacancy increased from 6.2 to 10.6.

For each applicant,5 the Council collects information about education, work history, present and past caseloads and appearances in court, a writing sample, and waivers that permit a review of credit and criminal histories, bar and judicial discipline, and contacts with six or more attorneys and judges who have had recent direct professional experience with the applicant. Staff verify employment, check references, evaluate the writing samples, and carry out needed investigations. Ali bar members are sent a survey giving them a chance to evaluate each applicant for each position.

The public is encouraged to participate in the process to an extent not found in all states. The applicants' names are announced at die beginning of the process; their survey scores from the bar are published a few weeks before the interviews; and a public hearing is held for each vacancy in the community where the judge will sit. Public comments are invited throughout the process, on die Council's website and through press releases. The Council interviews all applicants, and the applicants may choose to have their interviews held in public or in executive session. The Council votes on its nominees in public," and the nominees' names are released almost immediately after the vote.

The Council's data showed that it nominated 38 percent of all applicants. About 75 percent of the time, it sent die governor three or more names for a position.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Alaska MERIT SELECTION System at Work, 1984-2007
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.