Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Alaska Judicial Retention Election: Vote Yes On Judge Richard Postma, And No On Justice Dana Fabe, Judge Patrick McKay, Judge Sharon Gleason, And Judge David George

Update #2: Have now included the election results with the summaries on the judges. All judges retained by the voters except for Richard Postma.

Update #1: Added Judge Sharon Gleason to the "No" list. According to the Children Justice website, Judge Gleason has a reputation for bending over backwards on behalf of abusers in child custody and DV cases. Hat tip to former Eagle River Assembly candidate Anthony Lemons for the link.

In the November 2nd, 2010 general election, we Alaskans have the opportunity to "judge the judges". Twenty-eight of Alaska's judges are up for retention.

The vast majority of judges have been vetted and approved by the Alaska Judicial Council. The portal page for all their recommendations is available HERE. However, there are four of them requiring further analysis. Two of them have already been discussed on this blog. My recommendations on all four are presented below (after the jump):

(1). Third Judicial District District Court Judge Richard W. Postma Jr. Although the Alaska Judicial Council does not recommend his retention, I recommend a Yes vote. The case for Judge Postma's retention has been presented in this series of posts and he also makes a case on his own website. The bottom line -- Judge Postma appears to be the victim of office politics. He's run afoul of one of the clerks because he objects to a calendaring system that encourages lawyers to engage in judge-shopping and forum-shopping. So they've cooked up a case against him to sweep the other problems under the rug. Retaining Judge Postma would force them to confront those problems and allow him to "have his day in court", so to speak. It's not his fault he's still collecting a $145,000 salary for sitting at home doing absolutely nothing; this exile was imposed upon him. Vote Yes to retain Judge Postma.
-- Update: Judge Postma rejected; 54.74 percent No, 45.26 percent Yes

(2). Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe. Although the Alaska Judicial Council recommends her retention, I recommend a No vote. While Justice Fabe has been lauded for working effectively with a variety of legislators and executive branch officials, earning national acclaim for her leadership as a justice, and teaching student and their teachers about Alaska's legal and constitutional traditions, she has voted affirmatively on several issues which impinge upon the sanctity of unborn human life and have weakened parental authority and the fundamental sanctity of the family unit. Most notably, Justice Fabe voted with the majority in 2007 to invalidate Alaska's Parental Consent Law, which required a minor to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion. Justice Fabe believes minors have the same right to privacy as adults, which flies in the face of society's legal definition of a minor as a ward of the state to be under the operational command and control of a responsible adult. Justice Fabe's anti-family decisions override her positive accomplishments and warrant her removal from the bench. Vote No to reject Justice Fabe.
-- Update: Justice Fabe retained; 53.33 percent Yes, 46.67 percent No

(3). Third Judicial District Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay: Although the Alaska Judicial Council recommends his retention, after considerable deliberation I recommend a No vote. The reason -- his DUI on August 27th, 2009. It's true that it is only his second DUI on record, the previous one occurring 22 years ago. However, after contemplation, I realized that virtually no one gets a DUI the first time he or she drinks. Thus it is reasonable to infer that Judge McKay might have engaged in a persistent pattern of DUI leading up to the time he got caught. Furthermore, Judge McKay was caught with an open container, so he wasn't just driving under the influence; he was also drinking while driving. He blew a .157 on the breathalyzer; the limit is .08.

This reveals a character weakness on the part of Judge McKay, which might be more sustainable if he was in the private sector. But Judge McKay not only holds a position of public trust, but also a position of public authority. This means he can take away people's liberty or money. It is insufficient to have average character in such a position; one must have optimal character. Since Judge McKay has not displayed optimal character, he is unworthy of his stewardship. Vote No to reject Judge McKay.
-- Update: Judge McKay retained; 59.09 percent Yes, 40.91 percent No

(4). First Judicial District Superior Court Judge David W. George: Although the Alaska Judicial Council recommends his retention, I recommend a No vote. Here's why. In July 2009, State Sen. Albert Kookesh was caught overfishing subsistence down in Angoon. He and the other four men with him had caught 148 sockeye salmon; the bag limit is 15 salmon per person or a total of 75 for the five fishermen. But instead of setting the example and taking responsibility like someone in his position should, he chose to contest it. On September 2nd, 2010, Judge David George dismissed the charges, ruling that the 15-fish bag limit under which four of the fishermen were cited was adopted without providing for public comment and participation that is required by state law. The problem is that it doesn't change the fact that they caught twice as many fish as allowed by law. Now I realize that as a city slicker, I don't know squat about subsistence. But if you allow people to start regularly exceeding limits, you risk decimating the resource. Since we can't be sure that Judge George didn't let Kookesh off the hook either because he's a Native or because he's a lawmaker, this means his judicial integrity is compromised. Vote No to remove Judge George.
-- Update: Judge George retained; 71.44 percent Yes, 28.56 percent No

The Alaska Standard also reports that KBYR 700AM conservative talk show host Glen Biegel also recommends voting No on these other judges (click on their names for their AJC ratings; I now recommend a No vote on Sharon Gleason, but use your own discretion on the others at the polling station):

-- Court of Appeals Judge David Mannheimer: Weak Sentencing
-- Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth: Environmental Extremism, also tilts towards abusers in child custody and DV cases
-- Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason: In child custody cases, Judge Gleason has a reputation for bending over backwards on behalf of abusers.
-- Superior Court Judge Anna M. Moran: No reason given
-- Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner: No reason given
-- District Court Judge Stephanie Rhoades: No reason given
-- District Court Judge Jane Kauvar: Abortion, Excessive Reliance on Mental Health Court, Weak on Drugs, Bad Judgment on Judges

The remaining judges not mentioned above appear to have no issues precluding a Yes vote. Update: All judges on the ballot retained except for Judge Postma.


  1. Agreed. This is a far better and more informative list than what the Alaska Judicial Council put out.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I just wish Glen Biegel has specified his reasons on ALL the judges he recommended for rejection.