Nave makes it official

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Supreme Court of the State of Alaska officially installed Juneau attorney Thomas Nave as Judge of the District Court of Alaska on Friday in the Supreme Court Courtroom of the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Governor Sean Parnell had appointed Nave for the position on Sept. 24.

Patricia Collins, the presiding judge of the First Judicial District, opened ceremonies by saying the day was a celebration of Nave and "the Tom we all know is the product of his upbringing and his life. The installation is for the fine man he is and the judge he will be."

Warren Matthews, a retired Alaska Supreme Court justice, read a letter from current Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti, who wrote that even without Friday's installation, Nave's life in law has been one of significant achievement. Carpeneti wrote Nave will take all his skills and apply them to the bench.

"I have spent the last week on Juneau's people's court and the experience has left me with renewed respect and with my head spinning. I hope it all turned out well. Tom I predict you will be an asset to the bar," Matthews said on his own behalf.

Matthews administered the oath of office to Nave, after which "the loves of Nave's life," wife Susan Cox and children Julie and Peter Nave, ceremoniously draped him with his judicial robe.

Collins said Nave has always been an innovator while looking out for victims' needs and the safety of the community, and she looked forward to his talent on the bench.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said it was a wonderful day and Southeast Alaska is a place of very talented lawyers and Nave is at the front. Pallenberg reflected on earlier days when he could ask Nave for advice about law issues and how he had missed that interaction since his own appointment. Pallenberg said Nave's appointment sends the message of practicing law the right way and "I am happy I have the ability to ask him questions again."

Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy said, "We were told each of us only had 60 seconds to speak. Sixty seconds is a lifetime in District Court. The bar, the bench and the community are lucky."

Levy also said the two of them were lucky they both married fabulous women with law careers and who are smarter than they are.

Sitka Superior Court Judge David George said Nave was the best storyteller he had met, "So if anyone comes before his bench they had better have a good one."

Ketchikan Superior Court Judges Trevor Stephens and William Carey and District Judge Kevin Miller attended. Stephens said the caliber of people who applied for the position was deep and talented and Juneau will be very well served with Nave.

Carey said, "Finally, I am not the junior member anymore, welcome."

He added Nave's passion as an attorney was for helping people, and he would have more of an opportunity to do that still.

Miller said, "It is a great bunch we work with and now Tom has taken us one step closer to parity with the Supreme Court."

Attorney Peter Page said when he met Nave in 1976, Nave was fresh off the turnip truck and Nave soon proved himself to be pretty tough stuff.

"For Tom Nave, judging will come easy as he has been doing it for years," Page said. "His is not a role to be exalted but a calling to be answered."

Page went on to say that Nave's fairness, knowledge and compassion will show those on the other side of his bench that it is they themselves, not the judge, that are the author of their own misfortune. He added, "You have come a long way from the turnip truck, Tom."

Nave's mother, Marjorie, quoted his deceased father's statement about Nave's boyhood stubbornness, "You know, someday Tom will make a great lawyer."

Nave said the appointment was next to his marriage and children's births in importance.

Nave's sister, Nancy Dicus, said from age 5 she knew her older brother was "tough and strong. Judgmental, but fair."

Nave's wife Susan, who first spied him using a printer that was for law clerks only, said, "Knowing him now like I do, I can't think of a better person for the job, he truly does care about those he comes in contact with."

Nave, standing in a shiny black robe, rose and spoke to the standing room only audience.

"If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had help getting up there," Nave said. "I am that turtle on a fence post. Thank you all for my being here."

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@

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