Stephen Wallace was installed as Kodiak’s Superior Court Judge Thursday, replacing former Judge Steve Cole, who retired on Jan. 31 after a decade in the position.
Alaska Superior Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger opened the ceremony at the Kodiak Courthouse in front of a room full of Wallace’s friends, family and colleagues.
“I always found Steve Wallace to be very thoughtful, to be very considerate, to be very articulate and compassionate, and these are the qualities that I think make him perfect for this judicial position,” Bogler said.
Following Bolger’s remarks, longtime friend and colleague Palmer Superior Court Judge John Cagle, spoke about his former boss’ good character and dedication to the job.
“Steve Wallace embodies these ideals (the Alaska court system) of fairness and he will continue the legacy of the Superior Court judges that will come before him.”
Magistrate Judge Sidney Billingslea commented on Wallace’s giving and kind nature before presenting him with an electronic gavel.
“I was a defense attorney and he was a prosecutor,” she said. “I have never had a moment where I didn’t feel like my clients, the victims, the court systems was being thought about, encompassed and treated fairly by Steve as a prosecutor. There was never an unfair or sharp practice in the 30-plus years that we were up against each other … And through that all, we were fast friends.”
Wallace’s journey to become Superior Court Judge took him all over Alaska and the U.S.
After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, he worked as a police officer in Kodiak.
He then left to attend the University of Oregon Law School in 1985. He returned to the KPD in 1986 before clerking at a local law firm in 1988.
He was admitted to the Alaska state bar a year later and worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Palmer, Bethel and Anchorage before being appointed District Attorney in Kodiak in 1992.
Wallace left public practice and joined a law firm where he practiced criminal defense, estate planning and domestic relations.
In 2002, Wallace returned to public practice at the Anchorage District Attorney’s office where he supervised the sexual assault prosecutions unit.
Two years later, he was appointed as an itinerant prosecutor and worked throughout Southcentral and Western Alaska appearing as trial counsel for the state before courts throughout Alaska.
He later returned to Kodiak as an assistant district attorney before being reappointed as district attorney working first in Kodiak and then in Bethel until he was appointed to the bench in March.
Wallace closed the ceremony thanking his wife, brothers, friends and colleagues for their support and kind words.
“I commit myself to try to live up to the appropriately high expectations people should have of my office,” he said.