Who shall judge next?

Sep 22, 2016

As Judge Pat Douglass steps down from the Dillingham Superior Court bench this February, nine candidates have applied to take her place.

By next year, the Dillingham Superior Court will have a new judge on the bench. Alaska's Judicial Council hopes the public will weigh in on the nine candidates and the community's priorities.

Pat Douglass is not standing for retention as Dillingham Superior Court Judge, as reported here in July. Douglass let the Governor's office know she intends instead to retire just after the first of the year. Who will take her place? The Alaska Judicial Council has a list of nine applicants, and will be gathering public comments before making recommendations to the Governor.

Audio transcript: There are nine applicants for the job, including local attorney Jurgen Jensen and local magistrate judge Tina Reigh. The salary is $226,716.

The Alaska Judicial Council has a unique role in vetting and recommending candidates to the Governor. Executive director Susanne DiPietro says the council members welcome public input throughout the process of evaluating these candidates.

“One way that the public can get involved is by sending a letter to the Judicial Council," she said. "The second way that the Council invites and encourages the public to become involved is at a public hearing that the Council members will be personally attending in Dillingham. That will be most likely in the first week in December.”

Along with the public input, the Judicial Council is gathering information from each candidate’s colleagues and the Alaska Bar Association at large. In December they will likely forward recommendations to Governor Bill Walker, who will nominate the next judge for the Dillingham Superior Court.

"After the Council makes its nominations to the Governor, the Governor has 45 days to make his appointment," said DiPietro.

As she is not standing for retention, Pat Douglass’ term on the bench expires in early February. DiPietro stresses how valuable public comments are to the process of selecting the next judge. She says even if people don’t know the candidates well, they can still share valuable information with the Council.

"The members really want to just hear from members of the community, they want to get a feeling for the community, what the values are, what’s important to people, what are the problems. For example, a person might come and say ‘hey, we want a judge who understands addiction, treatment for addition,’ and so on. That’s very important information for the Council to have.”

Who are the candidates? Below are the biographical statements they provided with their applications.

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Brooke Browning Alowa

1. Brooke Browning Alowa: "Although I have practiced civil and criminal law all over Alaska, my heart lies in the Bush. For nearly nine years I lived in western Alaska; for several years I served as a Magistrate Judge and Standing Master in Nome and Kotzebue. The people, culture, and landscapes of our western hub communities appeal to me enormously, and I would like to serve the rest of my career in the place I consider home.

My experience includes extensive work in indigent defense, including dozens of jury trials; civil litigation, such as family law and child protection; employment and anti-discrimination law enforcement; investigative work; and small-town lawyering, involving whatever walked in the door.

I believe my previous performance as a judicial officer demonstrates my commitment to being fair and efficient, and to treating all participants with dignity.

My children and I enjoy driftwood fires, berry-picking, knitting, and swimming in very cold water."

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Andrew V. Grannik

2. Andrew V. Grannik: "I was born and raised in the Soviet Union. Because of my love for math and physics, I became an engineer-oceanographer. Shortly thereafter, because of my fundamental disagreement with the philosophical and legal underpinnings of the Soviet Union and my personal experiences of racial discrimination, I immigrated to the United States in 1990.

I attended Northeastern University School of Law and during my tenure there I was exposed to different aspects of the legal profession: representing indigent clients in immigration and criminal proceedings, working as a member of a legal team for a major gaming company legal department and learning about the inner-workings of the criminal justice system through an internship with a Superior Court Judge in Massachusetts. Upon graduation, when confronted with a choice between a corporate career and public service, I chose the latter.

I am proud of my ability to work well with co-workers and adversaries alike."

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Jurgen Jensen

3. Jurgen Jensen: "I was born in Juneau and raised in Anchorage. Almost immediately after graduating high school in Anchorage, I joined the Navy to see the world. I took advantage of the opportunities provided by the military and graduated from the University of Washington in 2001 and from Willamette University College of Law in 2007.

Since graduating law school, I have handled a wide array of cases in many different legal fields with varying complexity. I have litigated cases in admiralty, bankruptcy, criminal, child protection, family, mental health commitment and a broad variety of civil matters. Since 2014 I have brought that experience with me to Dillingham, Alaska, assisting clients there.

I enjoy living in the community of Dillingham and experiencing the outdoor opportunities in Western Alaska with my wife and two daughters."

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Lance Joanis

4. Lance Joanis:  "I was born and raised in Oregon and worked as a laborer in wood products mills in that state for about ten years. I am the first and only of all my ancestors and siblings to graduate from college. I started law school at the age of thirty-four after paying off my student loans. My wife and I moved to Bethel in 2004, immediately after law school graduation. We both studied for and took the bar exam in Bethel and started our jobs the Monday following the exam. Our children each had their first home in Bethel. I have worked for the State of Alaska, Department of Law in the Criminal Division in Bethel, briefly in Anchorage and then in the Kenai DA's office before transferring to the Civil Division in 2011, where I still work today. I would be honored to serve in either the Kenai or Dillingham Superior Courts."

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5. Tara Logsdon: (photo not provided) "I was born and raised in Reedsport, Oregon, a small coastal town with an economy centered on fishing and logging. I graduated from Reedsport High in 1988. To graduate from high school then, in Reedsport, one had to demonstrate successful operation of a chain saw (really). I received a congressional nomination and briefly attended the United States Military Academy (West Point), but quickly determined I wanted to pursue a different career. I spent one year as a nanny in New York to help pay for college. After undergraduate in Indiana, and law school in Virginia, I traveled alone to Alaska, site-unseen. I worked for a small general practice law firm for 3 years, then opened my own firm in 2000. Since November 2014, I have been Magistrate Judge and Standing Master in Palmer. I am the proud adoptive Momma to the sweetest little girl in the world."

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Andrew Ott

6: Andrew Ott:  "I came to Kodiak, Alaska in the summer of 1989 to work on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill ("EVOS") litigation after sitting for Washington State's bar exam. I had just graduated from Seattle University, School of Law and looked for an adventure. Initially, intended to be a short-lived adventure, EVOS kept me employed for many years until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008. The case exposed me to many aspects of complex civil litigation - from trial work to appellate practice, from claims and design & administration to people management. After EVOS, I joined a general practice firm in Kodiak - doing both civil and criminal work. I have practiced in all four judicial districts in many of our state's court houses on a variety of legal matters. Now, I am looking for a new legal challenge - something that will allow me to continue to enjoy what Alaska has to offer and grow professionally."

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Tina Reigh

7. Tina Reigh: "I graduated from Saint Mary's College in 1996 and immediately started a career committed to public service. I worked for non-profits for four years before attending Seattle University School of Law. I graduated in 2003, and moved to Anchorage to clerk for Judge Reese. In 2004, I moved to Dillingham to work for Alaska Legal Services Corporation. I spent ten wonderful years with ALSC representing individuals and tribes throughout the Bristol Bay region. I visited nearly every village in Bristol Bay while carrying a caseload that included tribal court development, ICWA, family law, public benefits, fishing disputes and probate matters. I also served as a court-appointed mediator. In 2014, I transitioned to the court system as Dillingham's Magistrate.

I am fortunate to have landed in Dillingham twelve years ago. My husband is now a commercial fisherman and we are raising our three children in a beautiful and culturally rich community."

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Bride Seifert

8. Bride Seifert: "I knew Alaska was home when I pulled myself over McCarthy Creek in 1996. The path back was not straightforward, and included a year at the South Pole. Along the way, I picked up a law degree, championed community development, got steeped in science, opened a micro-business, and served my community.

I first practiced energy law, focusing on utility rate work. I then returned to Alaska, as a Superior Court law clerk. From there, I grew as a lawyer in the Office of Attorney General, Civil Division. I currently serve as an Administrative Law Judge, adjudicating and mediating over thirty case types. I would be honored and humbled to continue serving the people of Alaska as a Superior Court Judge.

I spend down time with my husband exploring the mountains and water ways, losing at cribbage, picking (mostly eating) berries, and trying to catch fish."

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Joan Wilson

9. Joan Wilson: "I grew up in Chicago, remain a diehard Cubs fan, but moved to Alaska in 1986 following college, because I knew the State would be my long-time home. Absent leaving Alaska for law and graduate school, I have lived in Juneau, Fairbanks, Dutch Harbor, Wrangell St. Elias, and Angoon, and currently call Anchorage home. During my twenty years of practice, I have worked as a civil litigator in public and private practice, a prosecutor, and a chief ethics and compliance officer. With a trial, appellate, administrative, civil, criminal, and tribal caseload, I believe I have a diversity of experience that is well suited for issues that will come before the court.

If appointed, I will work diligently and fairly to provide prompt and reasoned decisions. I embrace professional collegiality and believe if we all perform to the best of our ability justice will be served. Thank you for your consideration."

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