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Judicial Council to meet in Juneau

Three applicants remain to replace retiring judge Patricia Collins

Posted: April 2, 2011 - 10:13pm

The Alaska Judicial Council has scheduled a public hearing Monday at 12:15 p.m. in the Dimond Courthouse, Courtroom A, for the purpose of reviewing the remaining three candidates for the judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins.

The three remaining applicants are Juneau District Court Judge Keith B. Levy, United States District Court Judge for the District of Alaska Leslie Longenbaugh, and Juneau attorney Louis James Menendez.

The council will hold private interviews with the applicants through the morning prior to the public hearing. Deliberations at 2 p.m. will be followed by a public vote.

The judicial council nominates two applicants to the governor for the final appointment, and the governor has 45 days to make his decision.

The council surveyed active Alaskan Bar Association members pertaining to the nominees qualifications in six fields, rated from 1-5, with 5 being the highest. The council does not use this survey to rank applicants. Following are the results:

Professional Competence – Levy 4.4, Longenbaugh 4.0, Menendez 4.3.

Integrity – Levy 4.6, Longenbaugh 4.2, Menendez 4.0.

Fairness – Levy 4.3, Longenbaugh 4.0, Menendez 4.0.

Judicial Temperament – Levy 4.5, Longenbaugh 3.9, Menendez 3.8.

Suitability of Experience – Levy 4.4, Longenbaugh 3.8, Menendez 4.1.

Overall Rating – Levy 4.4, Longenbaugh 3.8, Menendez 4.0.

The council also reviewed each applicant’s experience, character and professional references, criminal or disciplinary charges, credit history, court cases, community involvement and public comment.

Levy has been an Alaska resident for more than 23 years and has practiced law for 28 years. He graduated from Santa Clara University Law School in 1982, and is currently a district court judge in Juneau.

Levy has served on district court since 2005 and has been appointed superior court judge pro tem in numerous criminal and civil matters. He presides over Therapeutic Court, a program to assist those convicted of felony DUI in achieving lasting sobriety. He has worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation, had a solo practice for more than eight years representing family law, personal injury and commercial matters and regularly represented clients referred by Alaska Pro Bono Program and Alaska Network on Domestic violence and Sexual Assault. He has served as assistant attorney general and as legal counsel to the legislature.

Longenbaugh has been an Alaska resident for more than 46 years, and has practiced law for 24 years. She graduated from Sitka High School; Vassar College; Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco in 1986, and is currently in private practice in Juneau and serves as a part-time federal magistrate judge.

Longenbaugh worked in criminal and family law at Birch Horton Bittner and Cherot from ’87–’95 and co-founded Simpson, Tillinghast, Sorensen & Longenbaugh. The AK Bar Assoc. presented her its Pro Bono Award for service in 2001. She was a lawyer representative to the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference from 2003 to 2006 and serves on three nonprofit organization boards.

Menendez has been an Alaska resident for 30 years, and has practiced law for more than 29 years. He graduated from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco in 1974 and is currently in private practice in Juneau.

Menendez was hired as a research attorney at the Alaska Judicial Council in 1976. He worked as a state prosecutor beginning in 1979 in Anchorage, Kodiak, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Ketchikan, and Juneau. During the summer of 12985 he completed a filmmaking program at NYU. From 1986-88 he worked as an assistant federal public defender in Texas. In 1988 he began Alaska state prosecutor work and left in 1994 to pursue private practice.

The annual salary of a superior court judge in Juneau is $174,396. Judges also receive personal leave, state-paid health and dental benefits and judicial retirement system benefits. Judges must be a citizen of the U.S. and the State of Alaska, a resident of Alaska for five years immediately preceding appointment, have engaged in the active practice of law for not less than five years immediately preceding appointment, and must be licensed to practice law in Alaska at the time of appointment.

Juneau’s two superior court judges preside over the First Judicial District and hear both criminal and civil matters. In the 2010 fiscal year, court data indicates that 1,133 cases were filed in the Juneau Superior Court, including 215 felony cases, 389 probate matters, 217 domestic relations matters, 71 child-in-need-of-aid matters, 68 delinquency matters and 173 general civil matters.

Superior Court judges stand for retention at the first general election held more than three years after their initial appointment, and every six years thereafter..

Judges in the first judicial district standing for retention in 2012 are Ketchikan’s Superior Court Judge William Carey and Juneau’s District Judges Levy and Thomas Nave as well as Supreme Court Justices Walter L. Carpeneti, Morgan Christen, and Daniel Winfree.

The position vacated by Collins would stand for retention in 2014 along with Ketchikan’s district judge Kevin Miller and Supreme Justice Craig F. Stowers.

A judge or justice is retired at the age of 70, for incapacity, by written application if he or she has served five years, or may voluntarily retire after serving five years.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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