Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Palin-Appointed Anchorage Judge Richard Postma Subject Of Ethics Complaint For Mental Instability, Retains Sarah Palin's Lawyer Thomas Van Flein

Update May 7th: Judge Richard Postma reveals he's Hispanic, alleges the ethics complaint was filed because he complained about "discrimination". Updated post HERE.

Here's a story with interwoven irony: An Anchorage judge originally appointed to the bench by then-Governor Sarah Palin is facing an ethics complaint -- and has retained Sarah Palin's attorney to represent him. Full story published in the Anchorage Daily News.

Forty-three year old Anchorage District Court Judge Richard Postma, appointed to the bench by Sarah Palin on June 14th, 2007, is now the subject of an ethics complaint filed against him by the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct. He is accused of being mentally unstable, of exhibiting an unacceptable level of anger and lack of judgment, and failing to cooperate with other judges and his administrative staff. The complaint further specifies that an independent mental health expert who evaluated Postma in April determined that Postma has a disability that seriously interferes with the performance of duties and is or may become permanent. The complaint does not further detail the disability. Read the four-page complaint HERE.

Postma now has 20 days to respond through his lawyer, who just happens to be Sarah Palin's attorney Thomas Van Flein. The commission will hire an outside prosecutor, and the charges will then be heard before the commission, made up of three judges, three lawyers and three public members. The commission decides whether the charges are supported and if they are, they forward a recommendation for action to the Alaska Supreme Court.

One person posting a comment to the ADN story claimed that a number of people objected to Palin's appointment of Postma at the time. I could find no significant record of complaints, and I do not recall any significant outcry against him. One of Postma's more noteworthy cases was that of Robert McGowan, who got mad at his Rottweiler and knocked its teeth out with a rifle butt. The prosecution wanted the max: A year in jail, a $10,000 fine, a 10-year ban on owning an animal. The defense recommended 30 days in jail. Judge Postma split the difference; 300 days in jail and 10 years of probation during which McGowan would not be allowed to have a pet or drink alcohol. McGowan was also required to perform 160 hours of community service and pay restitution for the dog's treatment and care, estimated at between $5,000 and $10,000.

Richard Postma is up for a retention election this year. Because this is the first time he's stood for an election, there are no evaluations on file; read his original application HERE. A judge must stand for retention at the first general election held more than three years after appointment, and then every six years thereafter (ten years for Supreme Court judges).

Postma has a MySpace page HERE.

The only reason I mention the Palin connection in this story is because of the irony of the fact that he was appointed by Palin, and is now using Palin's attorney to try to save his job. Her appointment of Postma to the bench should not be held against her; there was no way she or her staff could have foreseen this. Since its the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct rather than an individual filing the complaint, it can be taken more seriously.


  1. I know the players in this story. There is more to this than what is in the press. Postma is one of the best and brightest District Court judges in Anchorage, and is the victim of a witch hunt.

  2. I've always thought the district court in anchorage was dysfunctional. I just didnt think this judge was the problem. He was my favorite of the 9 judges.

  3. Since when is it okay for the state or an employer to publish private medical information about someone without a full due process hearing? What happened to this judge in Wednesday's newspaper was pure evil. I've never seen him angry or uncooperative. If that is the standard, then the conduct commission will have its hands full clearing the rest of the Anchorage judges out of the courthouse, along with more than a few administrators and court staff.

  4. Anyone who has lived here more than a day, knows how screwed up Alaska law is. This guy is used to following regulations. When he discovered how powerful he was, I suppose he went wrong. Its a shame people are looking so hard at logic, they cannot see common sense.

  5. There is much more to this story. I wish someone would investigate and keep the bullies from picking on Judge Postma. He is an honest, compassionate and intelligent individual. I am disgusted to see how dysfunctional our judicial system is and how easily individuals can rally against a man who walks his talk by seeking justice.

  6. I'm not sure any of you jokers have even an inkling of the interoffice politics involved in a court house. Have any of you ever worked in calendaring? Customer Service? Records? In-Courts? Tape duplication? Criminal? Small Claims? Civil? I seriously doubt it.

    First of all, there is more than one calendaring clerk-has been since 2000. Is it really believable that one clerk could wreak havoc on a totally upstanding guy? And that ADN article about the clerk having dirt on everybody---what a joke. The whole article reeked of not only bad journalism but what kind of editor would publish that completely one-sided drivel?

    Some people don't handle responsibility well. Yes, even judges. In fact, I seem to recall a judge that would reschedule hearings at the last minute because she felt like going to yoga class. 99% of the judges I have worked with and for at the court house in Anchorage were outstanding. The other 1% were anything but. One guy used to purposely ask for all kinds of forms that weren't even used anymore when he knew he had a new clerk in the court room and then disparage her- on the record no less, because she couldn't find them fast enough--because they didn't exist! And, according to the public, he was the greatest judge on the bench!!!

    Seriously, you-THE PUBLIC-have no idea what a judge is like to work with or for unless you have personally done so. So, shut the hell up already or, at least until you actually have something intelligent to say that isn't based on some badly written article by some hack at the ADN!

  7. This article isn't about the judges you commented on. So i don't see how it had anything to do with Mr. Postma. I don't believe you have worked with him, or you not have gone on about Other judges. You have no more creditability than anyone else who has posted here.

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  9. I first encountered judge Postma while attending training for Anchorage Youth Court. We got to watch him preside over sentencing hearings, he was very respectful and fair. Afterward, he invited us to stay and ask questions. The biggest thing I remember about him is that he told us that it was his policy never to use his gavel. He felt it was demeaning to those he presided over. He understood respect and the proper use of power.

    The negative adds that have been airing about Judge Postma are the opposite of everything this man stands for: Respect, honor, and truth. Even if you believe the points in them are valid, they do not respect Judge Postma and his family. Today his daughter had listen to one on her way to school. Please, before you vote visit Judge Postma's official website

  10. I have argued in front of Judge Postma and although he is a strict Judge even when he said no to my request for clients had a pretty good legal reason. The Judical Council is a big joke which was set up initally by political cronies. The Council does a bunch of nothing, it tracks cases such as who settled etc. It is abhorrent that it posted Judge Postma's alleged medical condition in light of the fact there are other Judges who have bigger problems such as with DUI's and other issues. I doubt his disability has anything to do with his job and if it does we have a the ADA... What is wrong with the Council what a bunch of legal hacks... I hope he sues them all and goes into private practice where he will make a mint. However I respect this Judge unlike a lot of the other old Judges that fall asleep on the bench and are so cynical dont even read attorney's brief any longer and then ask what's the case about in Court. What about that Judicial Council?

  11. I've been in Judge Postma's courtroom once. I was so impressed with his behavior that I stayed afterwards to pay him a compliment which was this ("We need more judges like you"). He had a no-nonsense approach (which we need more of in our country's courtrooms so that the perps aren't disrespecting the judicial system and getting away with it due to all the mealy mouth judges) and was fair at the same time. It appears to me quite obvious that what is happening here is nothing more than those self same mealy mouth judges can't handle a real man and a hell of a judge.