Real transparency in judicial appointments

Letters to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

On Sunday past you published another column from Jim Clark, chief of staff for Gov. Murkowski, regarding the selection process for judges in Alaska. Mr. Clark uses the buzzwords transparency and accountability several times, I guess to get my attention. What leaps out is the lack of transparency in his own writings, and in the conduct of his office itself.

Omitted in his letter is the fact that the three public members on the Judicial Council were put there by Mr. Clark himself, through the governor's appointment. How is the uninformed reader to know this pertinent fact? Was the third floor open when Mr. Clark and Gov. Murkowski were deciding who these three individuals would be? Is the third floor open while they decide which of the three current nominees for the latest appointment is selected?

In his column Mr. Clark asks, I presume rhetorically, how the public is to be assured of the integrity of the process. As Sherlock Holmes might put it, "Elementary, my dear Watson." Presumably the three individuals that Mr. Clark selected for positions on the Judicial Council are people of integrity. Are Mr. Clark's concerns about integrity reflective of the individuals that he himself picked for this job?

If the governor's office wishes to know the inner workings of the Judicial Council's process, one should think they could simply ask one of their handpicked members, and if evidence of wrongdoing is present, bring it forth. As for accountability, what's to hold accountable? The council's job is to give a governor a list of nominees to choose from. In 50 years of doing this, I've no knowledge that they've failed in this job.

Caleb Stewart


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