Alaska Supreme Court

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Alaska Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   5
Founded:   1965
Location:   Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau
Chief:  $199,000
Associates:  $198,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Assisted appointment
Term:   10 years
Active justices

Dana Fabe  •  Daniel Winfree  •  Joel Bolger  •  Craig Stowers  •  Peter J. Maassen  •  

Seal of Alaska.png

Founded in 1965 as provided in the state constitution, the Alaska Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort.


The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Chief justice Dana Fabe1996-2020Gov. Tony Knowles
Justice Daniel Winfree2008-2022Gov. Sarah Palin
Justice Joel Bolger2013-2016Gov. Sean Parnell
Justice Craig Stowers2009-2024Gov. Sean Parnell
Justice Peter J. Maassen2012-2016Gov. Sean Parnell


The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review the decisions reached by lower courts within the state. The Court is required to accept appeals from previous decisions made by any Alaska Superior Court judge regarding civil issues, and including cases that originated in administrative agencies. The court has the option to hear appeals for criminal cases or petitions. In order for a criminal appeal to be heard, the appropriate appeals court must certify that the case involves a significant question of constitutional law, or it must be an issue of substantial public interest. The Supreme Court can choose whether or not to accept petitions of hearing from the lower courts on civil or criminal matters. The court may also review non-final decisions by the superior court in both civil and criminal cases. The court also hears other matters including bar admission, attorney discipline and state law questions raised in United States federal courts. The Court also has a supervisory role over the other courts in the state and is charged with making rules governing administration, practice and procedure in all courts.[1] The court hears cases on a monthly basis in Anchorage, approximately quarterly in Fairbanks and Juneau, and as needed in other Alaska communities. The court prefers to hear argument in the city where the case was heard in the trial court.[2]

Judicial Selection

See also: Judicial selection in Alaska

Alaska's supreme court justices are chosen using the Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection. The Alaska Judicial Council forwards a list of its nominees to the governor, who must choose a name from the list within 45 days to fill any vacancy. Justices serve 10-year terms on the court. Appointed justices are then subject to a retention election at the state's first general election that is more than 3 years after the appointment. After that, the five justices are subject to a retention elections every ten years.


To be considered a candidate of the Supreme Court, the person must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • Be a resident of Alaska for at least five years prior to the time of appointment.
  • Be licensed to practice law in Alaska at the time of appointment.
  • Be actively engaged in law practice for eight years prior to the appointment.

Removal of justices

Justices can be removed in one of two ways:

  • They may be suspended, removed from office, or censured by the Supreme Court upon the recommendation of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct.[3]
  • They may be impeached by two thirds of the Alaska Senate and subsequently convicted by two thirds of the House of Representatives.

Political outlook

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Alaska was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Alaska received a score of -0.11. Based on the justices selected, Alaska was the 21st most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[4]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 408 448
2013 406 399
2012 428 445
2011 448 375
2010 355 364
2009 397 424
2008 383 448
2007 413 404

[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Notable Firsts

  • Justice Dana Fabe was both the first woman to be appointed to serve on the court, as well as the court's first female Chief Justice.

See also

External links



JudgeElection Vote
StowersCraig Stowers 62.9% ApprovedA


Daniel Winfree, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention
2012 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
For retention Green check mark transparent.png 165,777 64.93%
Against retention 89,553 35.07%
See also: Alaska judicial elections, 2012

2010 election

Dana Fabe, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
For retention Green check mark transparent.png 100,003 53.2%
Against retention 87,843 46.8%
  • Click here for 2010 General Election Results from the Alaska Secretary of State.
Main article: Alaska Judges up for Retention Election in 2010
See also: Alaska judicial elections, 2010

2002 Election

Walter Carpeneti, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention
2002 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
For retention Green check mark transparent.png 130,566 66.7%
Against retention 65,117 33.3%
  • Click here for 2002 General Election Results from the Alaska Secretary of State.
Justice Term
Buell Nesbett August 1959 - March 1970
John Dimond August 1959 - December 1971
Walter Hodge August 1959 - February 1960
Harry Arend May 1960 - January 1965
Jay Rabinowitz February 1965 - February 1997
Roger G. Connor December 1968 - May 1983
George F. Boney December 1968 - August 1972
Robert C. Erwin August 1970 - April 1977
Robert Boochever March 1972 - October 1980
James M. Fitzgerald December 1972 - March 1975
Edmond W. Burke March 1975 - December 1993
Warren Matthews May 1977 - April 2009
Allen T. Compton December 1980 - November 1998
Daniel A. Moore, Jr. July 1983 - December 1995
Robert Eastaugh April 1994 - November 2009
Dana Fabe January 1996 -
Alexander O. Bryner February 1997 - October 2007
Walter Carpeneti November 1998 - January 2013
Daniel Winfree January 2008 -
AlaskaAlaska Supreme CourtAlaska Court of AppealsAlaska Superior CourtAlaska District CourtNative American Tribal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of AlaskaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitAlaska countiesAlaska judicial newsAlaska judicial electionsJudicial selection in AlaskaAlaskaTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg