Judge won't force subsistence case appeal

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

ANCHORAGE A state judge won't order Gov. Tony Knowles to appeal the Katie John subsistence case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It's not my place as a judge to tell anyone, including the governor, to file a lawsuit or an appeal," Superior Court Judge John Reese said Tuesday. He issued his decision immediately after hearing arguments in the case, which sought an injunction forcing Knowles to appeal.

The Alaska Constitutional Legal Defense Conservation Fund plans to appeal Reese's decision to the Alaska Supreme Court. Lawyer Robert Erwin argued the governor has an obligation under the state constitution to protect fish and wildlife for all Alaskans. "My clients have a right to common use of the resources of the state. They look to the governor to protect that right," Erwin said.

The Katie John case established the federal government has authority on most waters in Alaska to ensure a subsistence priority for rural residents. Federal law gives rural Alaskans first crack at fish and game but the state constitution guarantees equal access.

Last month, Knowles said he would not appeal a 9th Circuit Court ruling in the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.



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