FAIRBANKS — Fort Yukon’s lone judicial officer will remain at work while he’s facing a pending driving under the influence charge, but the court system has replaced his criminal caseload with civil cases.
Fort Yukon Magistrate Demetrie “Dacho” Alexander, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Dec. 20 in the Yukon River community of 600 people. Criminal charges of driving under the influence and refusing to take a chemical alcohol test followed on Dec. 31.
Alexander is out of jail on bail and will continue to function as a magistrate while the case is pending, said Ron Woods, the court supervisor for the state’s fourth judicial district in Fairbanks. Alexander is the only court employee in Fort Yukon, he said.
“The practical reality is he can continue to provide services up there in other cases and clerical support,” Woods said. “It’s just the judicial function in criminal cases while this is pending that is at issue.”
The Nenana court will help take up the Fort Yukon criminal caseload, he said.
Alexander has no criminal record. The Fort Yukon police officer who arrested him wrote in the criminal complaint against him that before he saw Alexander get out, he initially thought the magistrate’s gray 2003 Dodge truck might be stolen when he saw it driving on the wrong side of the road at 12:19 a.m.
The police officer, Peter Hawbaker, said after seeing Alexander get out the truck he went to resolve another unrelated case he was working on and then inspected the truck’s tracks in the snow. They showed it was on the wrong side of the road and was fishtailing, he said.
Hawbaker said he then went to Alexander’s house, where Alexander confirmed he had been driving and told him he was “pretty loaded up.” There was an empty bottle of tequila on the kitchen table, Hawbaker said.
Alexander was taken to the town holding cell but refused to give a breath sample, Hawbaker said.
Because Alexander is a court employee, the state’s office of special prosecution and appeals is in charge of the prosecution. Fairbanks attorney James Cannon is representing Alexander. The case was assigned to Fairbanks District Court Judge Ben Seekins after District Court Judge Patrick Hammers recused himself.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.