Alaska Judicial Council recommends 3 for district court

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Alaska Judicial Council last week selected Juneau attorneys Thomas G. Nave, Vance A. Sanders and Kirsten Swanson as the finalists for a a Juneau District Court judicial vacancy.

Nave, 60, is a 33-year resident of Alaska and has practiced law for 33 years. He is a 1976 graduate of Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College and is currently in Juneau private practice.

According to Nave's written application for the position, his various non-legal working experience has included mill worker, house painter, orchard worker, dishwasher, bus boy, ski instructor, ice truck driver and bank trust officer. Nave has coached his children's sports teams and has served as president of the Juneau Ski Club.

"I love being in that room," Nave wrote in his application statement. "I have witnessed habitual criminals turn... District Court is more than routine. It is the opportunity to punish as well as assist... it only takes someone to truly listen and see the light for them and then to show them where it is."

Sanders, 50, is an Alaska resident and has practiced law for 25 years. He is a 1984 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law and is in Juneau private practice.

Sanders' non-legal work has included dishwasher, carpentry, farming, curb hop, shipping department, and governmental intern. Sanders is involved with St. Ann's Care Center, End of Life Foundation, KTOO, Northern Light United Church, and the Disability Law Center.

"I have always sought to treat all others with dignity, respect and humor," Sanders wrote. "My assistance of Alaskans from all walks of life encountering our legal system has enriched me professionally and personally. At the end of my life I want to be remembered as someone who listened well, fairly dealt with all encountered, loved his family, and did his very best to make others' lives better..."

Swanson, 43, is a 12-year Alaska resident and has practiced law for 12 years. She is a 1995 graduate of Gonzaga School of Law and is in Juneau private practice.

Swanson's non-legal work has included efforts with the Clackamas County (Ore.) Sheriff. Sanders is involved with the Juneau Raptor Center, Hospice, Sons of Norway, and Target Rifle Club.

"While I respect the work, process and procedures, that have historically taken place in District Court, I am open to new ways to handle cases and look at better ways to address the needs of all the people who appear in court," Swanson wrote. "Frequently people appearing in District Court have additional issues in their lives that are not always adequately addressed by the court system... I am open to looking at possible new ways to address some of these issues."

Gov. Sean Parnell will make the final selection from the three applicants.

The initial selection process began Aug. 9 with interviews of the five attorneys that applied for the vacant judgeship - Nave, Sanders, Swanson, Bruce E. Horton, and Hanna Sebold.

The judicial council reviewed their experience, character and professional references, criminal or disciplinary charges, credit history, participation in community activities, and court cases in which the applicant has been involved.

The council also asks every member of the Alaska Bar to evaluate the applicants and encourages public comment.

The Alaska Judicial Council is a citizens' commission created by the Alaska Constitution. It is composed of three attorneys, three non-attorneys, and the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court.

The annual salary of a district court judge is $144,972. Judges also receive personal leave, state-paid health and dental benefits, and judicial retirement system benefits.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263

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