Alaska Governor Sarah Palin [on July 10, 2009] announced her appointment of Patrick S. Hammers to the Fairbanks District Court, Michael P. McConahy to the Fairbanks Superior Court, and Gregory L. Heath to the Palmer Superior Court (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶1).
“The people of Fairbanks and Palmer can be proud that their communities are home to jurists of such strong integrity, intelligence and compassion, willing to accept the responsibilities of administering justice in their home towns,” Governor Palin said. “It is a real pleasure to appoint these judges, and I have every confidence they will serve our state with distinction and honor” (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶2).
Fairbanks District Court
Governor Palin appointed Patrick S. Hammers of Fairbanks to fill the seat on the Fairbanks District court created by the retirement of District Court Judge Winston S. Burbank (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶3).
Hammers has been a magistrate with the state court system in Fairbanks since 1999. He had previously served as a municipal prosecutor in Anchorage, and a private attorney in Minnesota. He received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1973, and a law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul in 1979 (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶4).
Fairbanks Superior Court
Governor Palin appointed Michael P. McConahy of Fairbanks to fill the seat on the Fairbanks Superior Court created by the retirement of Superior Court Judge Mark I. Wood (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶5).
McConahy has been an attorney in private practice in Fairbanks since 1986. His previous legal work in Fairbanks includes service as an assistant district attorney, an attorney for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 375, a city prosecutor and a private attorney. He served on the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct from 1999-2003. McConahy earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1973, and his law degree from the University of Puget Sound Law School in 1978 (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶6).
Palmer Superior Court
Governor Palin appointed Gregory L. Heath of Palmer to fill the seat on the Palmer Superior Court created by the retirement of Superior Court Judge Beverly W. Cutler (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶7).
Heath has been a Palmer District Court judge since 2003, and previously worked as an attorney and supervisor at the Alaska Public Defender Agency in Palmer, and as a prosecutor in Missoula County, Montana. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of Montana, and a law degree from the University of Montana School of Law in 1993 (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶8).
Superior courts in Alaska have the authority to hear civil and criminal cases involving children, domestic relations, involuntary commitments and the property of deceased or incompetent persons, and to serve as appeals courts for cases from district court and some administrative agencies (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶9).
District courts in Alaska have jurisdiction over state misdemeanors and violations of city and borough ordinances. They may also hold preliminary hearings in felony cases, try civil cases valued at less than $100,000 and small claims cases valued at less than $10,000, hear domestic violence cases, and issue summonses, arrest warrants and search warrants (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶10).
The Alaska Constitution requires the governor to fill judicial vacancies by appointing from a list of applicants nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council. The lists of applicants for all three vacancies were delivered to the governor on June 25, and the Constitution grants her 45 days to make the appointments (Judicial Appointments, 2009, Â¶11).
Governor Palin as with her prior judicial appointments ensured that her candidates interpret the law and do not legislate from the bench. Governor Palin’s overriding core value is to follow the Constitution.
The Governor has made 102 appointments and re-appointments this year, including five judicial appointments, an attorney general, and one state senate appointment. In the 191 days that have passed this year, she has averaged one appointment every 1.9 days.
Governor Appoints Fairbanks, Palmer Judges. (2009, July 10). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved July 10, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1961