ANCHORAGE — The retirement of Judge Stephanie Joannides at the end of this month will leave a single female among the 15 judges of the Anchorage Superior Court — the lowest number in the city since 1984, according to the Alaska Judicial Council.
Women account for about 13 percent of the 40 superior court judges statewide, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday. There are none among the six in Fairbanks.
Gov. Sean Parnell has made nine judicial appointments. Only one was a woman.
“I’m primarily interested in making sure that every Alaskan, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to participate and qualify as a judge,” Parnell said in a telephone interview Friday. “I don’t use any kind of quotas for filling judgeships. It’s about getting the best and most qualified person I can. I would welcome more female attorneys to apply, but frankly I’m open to any interested and qualified attorney.”
Women make up about 37 percent of the practicing lawyers in Alaska.
The court system is stepping up efforts at recruiting women and minorities to at least apply for positions.
One diversity committee is working with the state bar to conduct a special continuing education program this spring to encourage applications, said Barbara Hood, a spokeswoman for the state courts. Another is taking a longer view and is focusing on high-school age students, especially minorities, to promote legal and judicial careers, she said.
Women occupy 26 percent of the seats in the state’s lower district courts, and two women justices sit with three men on the Alaska Supreme Court.