Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

03/02/2015 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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01:05:11 PM Start
01:05:42 PM Confirmation Hearing(s):
01:40:01 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
- Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar
- Alaska Judicial Council
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 2, 2015                                                                                          
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Wes Keller, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
Board of Governors                                                                                                            
     William Gordon - Fairbanks                                                                                                 
     - CONFIRMATION(S) ADVANCED                                                                                                 
Alaska Judicial Council                                                                                                       
     Allen M. Joseph - Bethel                                                                                                   
     - CONFIRMATION(S) ADVANCED                                                                                                 
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
WILLIAM GORDON                                                                                                                  
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  As appointee to the position of the Board                                                                
of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association, discussed his                                                                       
qualifications and answered questions.                                                                                          
ALLEN M. JOSEPH                                                                                                                 
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   As appointee to the position  of the Alaska                                                             
Judicial  Council,  discussed  his  qualifications  and  answered                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:05:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GABRIELLE  LEDOUX  called  the  House  Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at  1:05 p.m.  Representatives Claman,                                                               
Gruenberg,  Foster,  Keller,  Lynn,   Millett,  and  LeDoux  were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                       
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                
        BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE ALASKA BAR ASSOCIATION                                                                    
                    ALASKA JUDICIAL COUNCIL                                                                                 
1:05:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LEDOUX brought  before the  committee the  appointments of                                                               
William Gordon to  the position of the Board of  Governors of the                                                               
Alaska Bar, and  the appointment of Allen Joseph  to the position                                                               
of  the Alaska  Judicial Council.  [Packets contain  biographical                                                               
information on both appointees.]                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX  advised the  committee  it  would be  hearing  the                                                               
qualification  of these  two individuals  today and  recommending                                                               
that their  names be referred to  the Joint House and  Senate for                                                               
consideration.  Chair LeDoux reminded  the committee that its job                                                               
is only  to review the  history and qualifications of  these men.                                                               
She  stated  there   will  be  no  vote  for   or  against  their                                                               
confirmations in  this committee.  Committee  members should feel                                                               
free to ask  questions as they arrive, but bear  in mind that the                                                               
committee  is   not  voting   on  their   qualifications,  merely                                                               
reviewing them, she highlighted.                                                                                                
1:06:46 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM  GORDON,  said  he  is from  Fairbanks  and  assumed  the                                                               
committee had his resume.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  LEDOUX questioned  whether  there is  anything other  than                                                               
what is on his resume that he would like to highlight.                                                                          
1:07:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GORDON  advised he is  a life-long  Alaskan and has  lived in                                                               
many  communities, including  Fairbanks,  Anchorage, and  Juneau,                                                               
and has  been to almost every  community in Alaska a  multiple of                                                               
times in the course of  his private and public sector experience.                                                               
He added  to his resume  his past three  years of service  on the                                                               
Board of Governors  of the Alaska Bar Association.  He noted that                                                               
he co-chairs a nonprofit with  former Chief Justice Bud Carpeneti                                                               
that informs the  public about the challenge in  the Alaska State                                                               
Senate to Judicial Article IV of the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                 
1:08:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT (Indisc.)                                                                                                
1:08:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX  asked Mr. Gordon  whether he submitted a  resume in                                                               
addition to the application.                                                                                                    
MR.  GORDON   answered  he  believes   that,  under   the  former                                                               
administration, the resume  was attached to the  application.  "I                                                               
asked  if  that  same  information   would  be  provided  to  the                                                               
committee and  I think they told  me they would provide  it, so I                                                               
didn't provide anything new."                                                                                                   
1:09:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LEDOUX  assumed  that  when Mr.  Gordon  referred  to  his                                                               
resume,  he  meant  the  application.     She  advised  that  the                                                               
committee does not  have his resume and asked that  he forward it                                                               
to the committee chair.                                                                                                         
MR.  GORDON reiterated  he  has  served in  both  the public  and                                                               
private sectors.   He advised  his public service was  serving as                                                               
the  Chief of  Staff to  Governor  Jay Hammond  during his  first                                                               
administration.  At  that time, he said, he  became interested in                                                               
the works of  the judiciary and some of the  lawyering aspects of                                                               
serving on  the Board of  Governors.  Subsequent to  working with                                                               
Governor Hammond, he  went into the private sector  "and did many                                                               
things."   He said  for the  past twenty years  he has  owned and                                                               
operated  several  public  utility  licenses in  and  around  the                                                               
Fairbanks area.   Approximately  six years ago  he said  he "sold                                                               
those out."   Currently, he is semi-retired looking  for the next                                                               
adventure and hopes it will come  along because he still has more                                                               
to  do, he  remarked.    He said  he  has  served four  different                                                               
governors under different appointments,  in that Governor Hammond                                                               
appointed him to  the Alcoholic Beverage Control  Board, which he                                                               
chaired;  Governor Frank  Murkowski appointed  him to  the Alaska                                                               
Judicial Council  wherein he served  six years;  Governor Parnell                                                               
appointed him  to the Board of  Governors of the Alaska  Bar; and                                                               
currently he has  been re-appointed by Governor Bill  Walker.  He                                                               
advised he has served on  many "entities" in and around Fairbanks                                                               
in volunteer  service and assisting  the community in  any manner                                                               
he can.   He offered that  he is married with  three children and                                                               
two grandchildren.                                                                                                              
1:11:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  said she  noted that  Mr. Gordon  has been                                                               
re-appointed to  the Board of  Governors and yet  the application                                                               
form reads Commission on Judicial Conduct.                                                                                      
MR.  GORDON explained  that during  the original  discussion with                                                               
Governor  Parnell, they  discussed  where Mr.  Gordon could  best                                                               
serve Alaska.   He  remarked that  "others" within  the judiciary                                                               
urged  him to  take the  Board  of Governor  vacancy so  Governor                                                               
Parnell changed it to the Board of Governors.                                                                                   
CHAIR  LEDOUX surmised  he had  been  appointed to  the Board  of                                                               
Governors of the Alaska Bar  Association, and is currently up for                                                               
1:12:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked if there is  anything "major" the                                                               
legislature should be aware regarding the Board of Governors.                                                                   
1:13:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GORDON  responded  that  the Board  of  Governors  has  been                                                               
"extremely"  progressive in  trying to  reduce its  costs and  be                                                               
more transparent to  the public it serves,  including opening the                                                               
convention to the public.   There is nothing controversial of any                                                               
nature, he opined.                                                                                                              
1:13:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  advised he was unaware  the conventions                                                               
would be open to the public.                                                                                                    
1:14:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN confirmed  that Mr.  Gordon worked  on the                                                               
Alaska Judicial Council under Governor Murkowski.                                                                               
MR. GORDON answered in the affirmative.                                                                                         
1:14:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  if his  experience with  the Alaska                                                               
Judicial  Council, as  an  effectively functioning  organization,                                                               
was  one  of the  reasons  he  is  working with  retired  Justice                                                               
Carpeneti to  help support  efforts to  keep the  Alaska Judicial                                                               
Council intact in its current structure.                                                                                        
MR. GORDON advised  that he found it a  well-functioning body and                                                               
does not see the need to  change something that has served Alaska                                                               
so well better than 60 years.                                                                                                   
1:14:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN noted  that some people in  the public have                                                               
suggested  there  is  a lawyer/non-lawyer  split  on  the  Alaska                                                               
Judicial Council.                                                                                                               
1:14:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   LEDOUX   asked   Representative  Claman   to   keep   the                                                               
conversation  to Mr.  Gordon's  qualifications for  the Board  of                                                               
Governors of the Alaska Bar Association.                                                                                        
1:15:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  noted that  a few years  ago the  Board of                                                               
Governors changed the fee structure for  lawyers so it is more of                                                               
"pay as you  go" structure rather than "a lot  of savings sitting                                                               
in the  Bar Association's bank  account."  He  questioned whether                                                               
Mr. Gordon  was familiar  with the  change and  whether it  was a                                                               
good  change in  terms  of  fiscal management  for  the Board  of                                                               
MR.  GORDON remarked  that the  change  was before  his time  and                                                               
could  not really  comment on  it, but  it has  been diligent  in                                                               
trying  to  not only  lower  the  cost  for the  members  through                                                               
sharing  of costs,  the  "cost  cause" or  "cost  payor" type  of                                                               
approach.   He pointed  out that one-third  of the  board's costs                                                               
are  involved with  discipline matters  and it  attempts to  find                                                               
ways where the people who cause  the problem pay more.  He opined                                                               
that in  working through the  Alaska Supreme Court it  is finding                                                               
success.     As  far   as  the  dues   being  paid,   he  stated,                                                               
Representative Claman  may be referring  to front  payment rather                                                               
than  paying and  they go.   He  posited that  there are  several                                                               
structures set up for members to make their payments.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  stated a different  model was used  to set                                                               
the dues at  a certain amount and  try to keep them  to put money                                                               
in  savings, with  the  first  few years  at  a  higher rate  and                                                               
eventually ...                                                                                                                  
MR.  GORDON interjected  that the  Board of  Governors adopted  a                                                               
cash basis budget, and it is  no longer doing that.  He explained                                                               
that its budget  is based truly on  ... dues are set  on what the                                                               
budget is set at.                                                                                                               
1:16:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  surmised that  he is  one of  three public                                                               
members on  a board  that has more  lawyers than  public members.                                                               
He  asked whether  Mr.  Gordon  had an  experience  in which  his                                                               
voice, as a public member, was  not heard by the other members of                                                               
the board.                                                                                                                      
MR.  GORDON expressed  that  the  opposite is  true  in that  the                                                               
lawyers  have  been  anxious  to  have  his  business  experience                                                               
brought to  the board and  are constantly asking and  probing his                                                               
experience to see  if it can make some changes.   He related that                                                               
each  public  member   brings  a  different  set   of  goals  and                                                               
objectives,  and found  the  lawyers  to be  open  to the  public                                                               
1:18:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  moved  to  forward the  name  of  William                                                               
Gordon  to  the  joint  session  of  the  House  and  Senate  for                                                               
confirmation.   There  being no  objection,  the confirmation  of                                                               
William  Gordon is  advanced from  the  House Judiciary  Standing                                                               
1:18:37 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at ease.                                                                                             
1:18:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX  announced that Allen  Joseph's confirmation  to the                                                               
Alaska Judicial Council is next.                                                                                                
1:19:18 PM                                                                                                                    
ALLEN M.  JOSEPH, said he  is a Yup'ik  Eskimo, and was  born and                                                               
raised in  Hooper Bay.   He  advised he is  a shareholder  of Sea                                                               
Lion   and  Naparyarmiut   Corporation  and   is  interested   in                                                               
membership in the Alaska Judicial  Council in order to contribute                                                               
to the overall  wellbeing of Alaskans.  He said  he would like to                                                               
help select good judges for the  Alaska Court System, and that he                                                               
has  experience in  selecting qualified  individuals for  various                                                               
positions.   After graduating from  Kuskokwim College  in Bethel,                                                               
he  began   working  on  real  estate   issues  involving  Native                                                               
allotments and restricted town site  laws.  He described the work                                                               
as preparing  public hearings for  administration law  judges and                                                               
early  on  he  understood  the   importance  of  judges  and  the                                                               
decisions they  make how  prepared parties must  be in  order for                                                               
the judges  to make fair and  the best decisions.   He advised he                                                               
has  worked  for  the  three  social  services  organizations  in                                                               
Bethel,   ABCP   Housing    Authority,   Yukon-Kuskokwim   Health                                                               
Corporation,  and  AVCP  Regional  Housing  Authority,  where  he                                                               
currently  is employed.   Throughout  his career  he has  been in                                                               
involved in the management of  staff and programs, has spent much                                                               
of his time reviewing applications,  resume and interviewing many                                                               
people  and, he  noted,  looks for  people  committed to  helping                                                               
others.   He  is currently  chairing the  Bethel School  District                                                               
Board   and   school   boards  are   the   peoples'   voice   and                                                               
representatives and as a board  member he has screened, reviewed,                                                               
and  evaluated administrator  or principal  applications for  the                                                               
schools.    This  includes  annual  reviews  of  principals'  job                                                               
performances including recommendations for  retention or not.  He                                                               
noted he has  also been involved in the Bethel  search and rescue                                                               
operations as  a board member,  and volunteer searcher.   He said                                                               
he  has come  to  realize that  giving himself  and  his time  in                                                               
search and rescue is very satisfying  to his soul and spirit, and                                                               
it contributes to the communities'  basic needs.  He offered that                                                               
he  supplements his  family income  with subsistence  hunting and                                                               
fishing;   therefore,  court   cases   and  decisions   involving                                                               
subsistence are  very important.   He remarked that he  will work                                                               
for the people of the state  and do his best in accomplishing the                                                               
mission of  the Alaska  Judicial Council in  working to  find the                                                               
most  qualified candidates  under  the council's  responsibility.                                                               
He  highlighted that  he has  respect  for the  judges and  court                                                               
staff currently employed  and he would like to  help preserve the                                                               
respectability and  professionalism of  the Alaska  Court System.                                                               
He assured the committee that if  he is selected for the position                                                               
on  the Alaska  Judicial  Council he  will do  his  best for  the                                                               
people  of the  state,  legislature, court  system, and  Governor                                                               
Bill Walker.                                                                                                                    
1:26:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked Mr.  Joseph whether he had experience                                                               
dealing  with  the  Indian  Child Welfare  Act  (ICWA),  and  how                                                               
familiar he is with the issues.                                                                                                 
MR.  JOSEPH responded  that he  has overseen  the positions  with                                                               
ICWA  as a  manager at  ABCP.   He did  not get  involved in  the                                                               
activities of  ICWA in going  through the courts or  listening to                                                               
hearings, except  in a couple of  cases.  He advised  he has been                                                               
involved  in  forming a  family  wellness  organization, and  the                                                               
Yukon-Kuskokwim  Health Corporation  picked  up the  organization                                                               
and integrated it into the health care system.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER presumed Mr.  Joseph had a supervisory role                                                               
over the person responsible for the ICWA program.                                                                               
MR. JOSEPH responded in the affirmative.                                                                                        
1:27:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  noted that the judicial  selection process                                                               
is important in this state,  and questioned what Mr. Joseph would                                                               
look for in a judicial candidate.                                                                                               
MR. JOSEPH replied he would look  for the individual best fit for                                                               
the job and,  most importantly, the most  qualified candidate who                                                               
would accomplish the mission of the council.                                                                                    
1:29:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  quiered  whether   he  would  review  the                                                               
particular applicant's values in any manner in the evaluation.                                                                  
MR.  JOSEPH responded  that he  believes  in good  values in  his                                                               
family and community.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  said he  did not  mean to  put him  on the                                                               
spot and  was curious as  to how he would  look at the  judges in                                                               
that  the   judicial  selection   process  has  been   under  the                                                               
microscope a  number of times.   He recalled that in  2004, there                                                               
was  a judge  applicant  on his  third round  of  applying for  a                                                               
position as Superior Court Judge  and during the interview one of                                                               
the public members  asked whether or not  he supported Republican                                                               
values.   He  opined  that  the applicant  was  taken aback,  and                                                               
Representative  Keller wondered  whether Mr.  Joseph believed  it                                                               
would  ever  be  appropriate  to  ask  a  candidate  about  their                                                               
political  interests and,  more  importantly, their  values.   He                                                               
asked  whether  Mr. Joseph  has  a  criteria himself  in  putting                                                               
someone forward.                                                                                                                
1:30:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  JOSEPH responded  that he  would find  it inappropriate  for                                                               
anyone to ask  a candidate their party affiliations  or a party's                                                               
values.   As to  personal values, he  would first  consider their                                                               
performance, work history, experience,  and actions at the bench,                                                               
as actions speak louder than words.                                                                                             
1:31:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER questioned  whether  a  judge should  ever                                                               
create law in its judgements within the judicial system.                                                                        
MR. JOSEPH  asked if Representative  Keller was asking  whether a                                                               
judge  should  make  a  decision based  on  gut  feelings,  "no."                                                               
Judges  should read  cases carefully,  perform research,  and not                                                               
make decisions from how he/she feels about cases or situations.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  noted that  if he were  on the  council he                                                               
would  struggle with  those questions  and hopes  that the  judge                                                               
would be  interested in  making determinations  based on  the law                                                               
that exists.                                                                                                                    
1:34:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN said he is  pleased Mr. Joseph will bring a                                                               
rural perspective  to the Alaska  Judicial Council, and  that his                                                               
resume shows  he will speak  up for his  own views and  will work                                                               
with the council, yet be independent.                                                                                           
1:34:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG advised the  committee does not have Mr.                                                               
Joseph's application  and questioned  whether he is  a registered                                                               
voter.   He  remarked that  he is  interested in  the application                                                               
form itself.                                                                                                                    
MR. JOSEPH related that he is a registered voter.                                                                               
1:36:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER moved  to  forward the  name  of Allen  M.                                                               
Joseph  to  the  joint  session  of  the  House  and  Senate  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG objected  for  discussion  and not  the                                                               
CHAIR LEDOUX  advised Representative Gruenberg whether  he is not                                                               
objecting  to  the  nomination,  then  after  the  nomination  is                                                               
forwarded the committee  can have a brief discussion  of what ...                                                               
assuming his discussion is germane to the appointee process.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG stated  "it  is," and  he withdrew  his                                                               
CHAIR  LEDOUX   advised  that  there  being   no  objection,  the                                                               
confirmation  of  Allen M.  Joseph  is  advanced from  the  House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
1:37:17 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 1:37:17 to 1:38:59 p.m.                                                                      
1:38:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he  noticed on an application form,                                                               
"Are  you a  registered  voter," and  advised  research is  being                                                               
performed as to whether the question is constitutional.                                                                         
1:40:01 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.                                                                 

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