Alaska Editorial: A new justice

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

The Alaska Supreme Court soon will be back to its full complement of five justices, thanks to the appointment of Alaska Court of Appeals Judge Joel Bolger to sit on that august body.

Gov. Sean Parnell announced his selection on Friday, naming Bolger to take the place vacated with the retirement of Judge Walter Carpeneti.

Judge Bolger has lived in Alaska for 34 years, beginning as a VISTA volunteer attorney in Dillingham. He supervised Alaska Legal Services in Kodiak and was a Public Defender in Barrow, before joining a private law firm in Kodiak. He has been a judge since 1997, when he was appointed Valdez District Court judge, then moved on to Kodiak Superior Court and, for the past four years, has sat as a Court of Appeals judge in Anchorage.

Gov. Parnell, in making the appointment, said Judge Bolger would serve with “humility, thoughtfulness, legal expertise and discernment,” bringing “a tremendous asset for Alaska’s highest court” in his experience at every level of the state court system.

We could hardly ask for better in a judge on Alaska’s highest court. We congratulate Judge Bolger on the honor, and thank him for his service to the people of Alaska.

Of course, Ketchikan had a favorite son for the appointment: First City native Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens was among four candidates recommended to the governor by the Alaska Judicial Council, out of a field of 13 applicants. We wished the best for Judge Stephens, who we’ve known all his life. We have to admit to some relief that we won’t be losing him, though. He serves as the Presiding Judge of the First Judicial District.

Alaska is fortunate indeed to have such a field of talented, dedicated people. If you would like to learn more about the state’s courts, Supreme Court Chief Justice Dana Fabe will address the Alaska Legislature on the state of the judiciary on Feb. 13. Listen, watch and learn.

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