JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has picked from an original list of finalists an Anchorage Superior Court judge to serve on the state Supreme Court, after last week asking the council that screens and nominates judicial applicants for a new slate of candidates.
Jennifer Stuart Henderson was among three finalists advanced by the Alaska Judicial Council for consideration by Dunleavy. She is a former assistant district attorney and was a District Court judge before serving as a Superior Court judge, according to her bio.
The council in a statement dated May 25 said it had nominated Henderson and Anchorage Superior Court judges Dani Crosby and Yvonne Lamoureux as the “most qualified applicants” for the Supreme Court seat. The statement said Dunleavy had 45 days to make an appointment from among them.
Dunleavy, in a letter to the council last week, questioned why Kotzebue Superior Court Judge Paul Roetman had not been advanced. He cited Roetman’s time as a judge and experience in rural Alaska.
Roetman, one of seven applicants for the Supreme Court seat, was recently pushed by Kristie Babcock, a Dunleavy appointee to the council.
The council had not responded to Dunleavy's letter by the time he announced Henderson's appointment, council executive director Susanne DiPietro said by email Thursday.
Council bylaws state the council will not reconsider the names submitted to the governor after nominees are submitted “unless the disability, death, withdrawal or unavailability due to appointment to another position of one or more” of them leaves the governor with less than two names.
Spokespersons for the governor did not respond to questions about the appointment, including why Dunleavy had requested additional names given council bylaws.
Dunleavy, early in his term, raised questions about the selection process for a Superior Court judgeship but eventually filled the seat with a council nominee after meeting with then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger. The group seeking to recall Dunleavy had listed the failure to make a timely appointment as one of its grounds for seeking a recall election.
Dunleavy told reporters last week when asked about the Supreme Court seat: “We’ll follow the constitution, and we’ll follow the law.”
Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press