Judicial Council Says Removing Judge Recommendations a Problem For Alaskans

State Senator Pete Kelly has introduced a bill which would end the “Yes” or “No” recommendations for Alaskan judges, which are published in voter pamphlets.


Larry Cohn the Executive Director of the Alaska Judicial Council who makes the recommendations, said…


Cohn: “It would decrease the ability of Alaskan voters to hold judges accountable when they stand for retention, and it would also decrease the Council’s ability to hold judges accountable to themselves when judges have problems and the Council goes to judges in advance of their retention election and suggest that perhaps they address some concerns that have been raised. It would remove the incentive for judges to take measures to improve their performance.”


Cohn explained that the printed recommendations are put together using surveys, reports, and investigation, but the resulting recommendation is not based on a score…


Cohn: “And sometimes the judge will get an acceptable rating, yet there could be a substantial problem. For example, the Council has recommended against three judges in each of three different fairly retention years: 2006, 2008, and 2010. all of those judges got ratings from various groups in the at least acceptable rage, yet there were serious issues, as you may know, with a judge on the Peninsula with sexual harassment of court employees, there have been mental health issues, there have been issues regarding ethics that sometimes the people that fill out these surveys aren’t aware of.”


Sen. Kelly’s bill was forwarded to the Judiciary Committee this week.

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