Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Bethany Harbison

Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Bethany Harbison received her law degree from Harvard Law School.

FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Bethany Harbison has been appointed to the Alaska Court of Appeals.

Gov. Bill Walker announced Harbison's appointment in a news release last week.

Harbison was one of three candidates chosen by the Alaska Judicial Council from a field of six applicants. The other candidates were Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg and Timothy W. Terrell, an assistant attorney general in the Office of Criminal Appeals in Anchorage.

Harbison will replace Chief Judge David Mannheimer, who will retire in February due to age restrictions. Article IV Section 11 of the Alaska Constitution states that "Justices and judges shall be retired at the age of seventy except as provided in this article."

The appointment of Harbison means all three seats in the appeals court will be filled by women for the first time in its history, according to Susanne DiPietro, the executive director of the Alaska Judicial Council.

Harbison will join appeals court Judges Marjorie K. Allard and Tracey Wollenberg, both of Anchorage.

The Alaska Supreme Court broadened the residency requirements for appellate judges several years ago, meaning Harbison may not have to move to Anchorage if she does not wish to. Though the appeals court generally requires a lot of travel, improved technology means judges can meet via teleconference and conduct much of their business electronically, DiPietro said.

Harbison graduated from Harvard Law School in 1993 and has practiced law in Alaska for almost 25 years. She worked as a public defender and Fairbanks magistrate judge and was appointed to the Fairbanks Superior Court in 2012 by Gov. Sean Parnell. She is currently the presiding Superior Court Judge of the Fourth Judicial District in Fairbanks.

Attempts to reach Harbison for comment were unsuccessful Monday.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.