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Parnell appoints new Alaska attorney general

Posted: January 13, 2012 - 1:11am

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell on Thursday announced the appointment of an Anchorage attorney as Alaska’s new attorney general.

Michael Geraghty, 59, will replace John Burns, whose resignation became effective Jan. 2, after barely a year on the job. His appointment must be confirmed by the Legislature.

Geraghty expects to start around Feb. 1, about two weeks into the new legislative session.

“Mr. Geraghty is an accomplished attorney, and as a lifelong Alaska resident, is dedicated to Alaska’s interests,” Parnell said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of experience and sound judgment to the Department of Law.”

Geraghty said he had been interested in the job when he was approached. He called it an opportunity “to give something back and I think I have something to contribute.”

Geraghty, a partner with DeLisio, Moran, Geraghty and Zobel, P.C., of Anchorage, said he has been practicing law for more than 30 years. He said he has had a broad practice, handling lawsuits and trial work in state and federal courts.

He was selected in “Best Lawyers,” a peer-review guide, in the specialties of construction law and personal litigation, according to a release from Parnell’s office.

He served as an independent counsel to the State Personnel Board and recommended dismissing several ethics complaints made against then-Gov. Sarah Palin. Palin resigned in July 2009, partway through her first term, citing in part ethics complaints that she called frivolous.

Andree McLeod, who filed numerous complaints against Palin, including at least two that Geraghty recommended be dismissed, said she considered him difficult to work with.

“This appointment tells me that Parnell is only interested in surrounding himself with ‘yes men,’” she said.

One of Geraghty’s first challenges on the job will be getting up to speed. Parnell has been vocal about pushing back in cases where he believes the federal government is overstepping its boundaries, and the state is involved in fighting the federal government on issues ranging from the health care law — provisions of which Parnell believes to be unconstitutional — to special protections for certain species.

Geraghty earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii in 1974. He received a law degree from Santa Clara University in California in 1978.

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