Council says Weeks should stay

Juneau judge up for retention Tuesday gets generally high marks

Posted: Sunday, November 05, 2000

Larry Weeks, a Superior Court judge based in Juneau, is up for retention in the Nov. 7 election.

Weeks, 57, has a background in criminal prosecution. He is the presiding judge of the First Judicial District in Southeast Alaska.

He was born in Illinois and attended the University of Illinois. Previous to his being appointed a Superior Court judge 10 years ago, he served as a district attorney in Juneau and Anchorage. He has lived in Alaska for 29 years; since 1982, in the Juneau area.

The Alaska Judicial Council, a citizen's commission established by the Alaska Constitution, has voted unanimously to recommend a yes vote to retain all the judges who will be on the 2000 ballot.

To reach this conclusion, the council compiled extensive information about all judges, including public comments, an attorney survey, juror comments and an appellate review.

In a survey sent to all 2,644 attorneys in Alaska, Weeks was rated "excellent" on overall judicial performance and scored the highest possible score in the category of "conduct free from impropriety."

In his official statement to judicial council, Weeks said, "The system works in this district better than some places because the people in the court, the lawyers, and the public try to make it work. The court has made efforts for public education, appointment of quality persons and maintenance of facilities in necessary locations. ... I have worked hard to make my decisions based on the law and what is fair and not pander to any particular group."

Weeks described his current workload included 25 percent civil cases, 60 percent criminal cases, and 15 percent court administrative. He estimated he will preside at 13 trials this year.

During his tenure as judge, Weeks has developed a domestic relations manual for judges and been involved in an Indian Child Welfare Act conference. He has also been involved with changes to the role of guardians ad litem.

All jurors who have served with judges up for retention are asked to submit comments about his performance to the judicial council. They are asked about his fairness and impartiality, respectfulness and courtesy, skill and intelligence, exercise of control and attention to the proceedings.

Comments regarding Weeks were generally favorable. Jurors characterized him as "very patient with a rookie defense attorney while remaining impartial," "funny yet serious and a pleasure to work with," "very helpful and considerate," and "attentive." One juror thought Weeks "must have cultivated his poker face over his entire judicial career." Another said, "Judge Weeks helped me to regain trust, respect, etc., I had lost in previous dealings with the court system."

"This is the best job in the world," Weeks wrote. "You can believe that you have a positive effect in people's lives and help to make an important system work better. The First District tries hard to take justice to outlying areas, maintain public education about what we do, keep Bar/Bench relations good and keep cases moving in an expedited manner. ... As Presiding Judge I try to facilitate those things."

The Public Safety Employees Association, a group that often comments on candidates for office, is "not taking a stand any way or the other on Judge Weeks at this time," said president Barry Wilson. "We have not received any input from the membership one way or the other."

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