Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named two new judges for Fairbanks.
Magistrate Judge Earl Peterson has been elevated to the Superior Court. He has been an Alaska resident for more than eight years and has practiced law for 23 years. He graduated from Chicago Kent College of Law in 1995, according to the announcement from the governor’s office.
Dunleavy also named Brent Bennett to the Superior Court. Bennett will leave his position as supervising attorney of the Fairbanks Defense Section of the Office of Public Advocacy.
Bennett has been an Alaska resident for 13 years and has practiced law for the same length, according to the governor’s office. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2006.
Dunleavy made the appointments from a list of candidates nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council.
The Alaska Constitution specifies the procedure. Article IV Section 5 states that the governor “shall fill any vacancy in an office of Supreme Court justice or Superior Court judge by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the Judicial Council.”
Article IV Section 6 states that new Supreme Court and Superior Court judges shall “be subject to approval or rejection on a nonpartisan ballot at the first general election held more than three years after his appointment. Thereafter, each Supreme Court justice shall be subject to approval or rejection in a like manner every tenth year, and each Superior Court judge, every sixth year.”
The Judicial Council itself is established by the Constitution in Article IV Section 8.
The council consists of seven members: three attorneys appointed for six-year terms by the Alaska Bar Association, three non-attorney members appointed for six-year terms by the governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Only the three members appointed by the governor must be confirmed by the Legislature.
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