KODIAK — Six attorneys have applied to serve as the new Kodiak Superior Court Judge, a position that will be vacated by Judge Steve Cole in January, 2019. In a press release dated Oct 15, the Alaska Judicial Council announced the names of the candidates, and detailed the selection process.
Those interested in the judgeship are: Elizabeth W. Fleming, Andrew Ott, Daniel Schally, Stephen B. Wallace, Dawson Williams, and Jill C. Wittenbrader.
Cole, who announced his retirement in July, will step down in January after a career of more than 40 years. He was appointed to his current position in 2009 by Governor Sarah Palin.
The six applicants for the judgeship will be evaluated by the Alaska Judicial Council, a seven member board made up of Chief Justice Joel Bolger (who formerly served as a Kodiak Superior Court judge), three public members and three attorney members.
According to the AJC’s executive director, Susanne DiPietro, the evaluation includes a comprehensive background investigation, a survey of Alaska Bar members, and personal interviews with the applicants.
The evaluation is intensive. According to the ACJ website, a check of an applicant’s references (three professional and two personal) and former employers “takes about six weeks to complete ” – and that’s just one step in the process. As part of the background investigation, council staff review the applicant’s history with and standing in the bar, credit report, any civil litigation in which the applicant was involved, criminal history, traffic violations, administrative actions against their driver’s license, potential conflicts of interest, and more.
Interviews with applicants and public hearings will be held in late January and early February, 2019. The Council will select two or more nominees for each vacancy to send to the governor, who will then have 45 days to make the appointment.
The council encourages public comment on the qualifications of these applicants during the evaluation phase. To pass a comment, members of the public can contact ACJ executive director Susanne DiPietro by phone at (907) 279-2526, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail addressed to Alaska Judicial Council, 510 L Street, Suite 450, Anchorage, AK, 99501-1295.
Basic information on the six candidates is provided below:
Elizabeth W. Fleming has been an Alaska resident for a decade and has practiced law for 37 years. She graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1981, and is currently in private practice in Kodiak.
Andrew Ott has been an Alaska resident for 29 years and has practiced law for 28 years. He graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 1989, and is currently in private practice in Kodiak.
Judge Daniel Schally has been an Alaska resident for 21 years, and has practiced law for years. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1997, and is currently the district court judge in Valdez.
Stephen B. Wallace has been an Alaska resident for 36 years, and has practiced law for 29 years. He graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1988, and is currently the district attorney in Bethel.
Magistrate Judge Dawson Williams has been an Alaska resident for a little over 13 years, and has practiced law for 13 years. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2005, and is currently a magistrate judge in Kodiak.
Jill C. Wittenbrader has been an Alaska resident for 26 and a half years, and has practiced law over that same length of time. She graduated from Lewis and Clark, Northwestern School of Law, in 1991, and is currently in private practice in Kodiak.