Former Alaska Supreme Court justice dies

Robert Boochever, who served as chief justice for the Alaska Supreme Court and as senior judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, died Sunday in his Pasadena, Calif., home.


He was 94.

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Boochever, who also maintained a residence in Juneau, came here after earning a law degree from Cornell University in 1941 and serving honorably in the U.S. Army during World War II. Bob Bartlett, Alaska’s territorial delegate to Congress at the time, aided Boochever’s selection as an assistant U.S. attorney in Juneau.

Clark Gruening, an attorney and former state legislator, credited Boochever with helping defeat a capital move effort in the early 1960s, according to Empire archives.

“I went all over the state in debates on it,” Boochever told the Empire in 2000.

Along with helping defeat a capital move, Boochever served as president of the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Bar Association, and served on more than a dozen professional, charitable and community boards, including the first Juneau planning commission. He also represented a group of out-of-state salmon fishermen in challenging Alaska’s limited entry program. An element of that challenge went to the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing Boochever to argue at the nation’s highest court.

Boochever served on the Alaska Supreme Court from 1972 to 1980, and as chief justice of that body from 1975 to 1978. While there, Boochever wrote the court’s opinion in Aguchak v. Montgomery Ward Co., which limited a creditor’s ability to collect a debt against a resident of the Alaska Bush by filing a case in a distant Alaska court (here, Montgomery Ward filed suit in Anchorage against residents of Scammon Bay, a town on Alaska’s west coast). That case is taught in many law schools, a rarity for a state court decision.

President Jimmy Carter nominated him to his seat on the 9th Circuit in 1980, a slot he was confirmed to less than a month after his nomination. He took senior status in 1986 and continued to serve in that capacity until his death.

He is preceded in death by his wife Connie, an advocate for arts in Alaska, who died in 1999. The couple had four children, and kept a home in Juneau as well as Pasadena. One of their 11 grandchildren is Hilary Lindh, the downhill skiing world champion and Olympic silver medalist.

The family did not provide the cause of his death.

Services are pending.

Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect Boochever's correct age when he died.


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