Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, foreground, appears before the House Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Republican Rep. Christopher Kurka, a committee member, is seen in the background. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, foreground, appears before the House Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Republican Rep. Christopher Kurka, a committee member, is seen in the background. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

Attorney general discusses plans, Clarkson in hearing

AG said he takes seriously his duty to decide which cases to pursue in the public interest.

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

Attorney General Treg Taylor said Monday he takes seriously his duty to decide which cases to pursue in the public interest and is hopeful that under his leadership the state won’t see a “string of losing cases.”

His comments were in response to questions during a confirmation hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Matt Claman, the chair and an attorney, said he was “troubled” by a number of cases that seem like political positions but “legally, they’re very, very poor positions to take.”

Some of the cases Claman cited were still moving through the legal system, including a school funding dispute set for arguments before the Alaska Supreme Court. In another case, a judge found Gov. Mike Dunleavy unconstitutionally used his veto powers to punish the courts after a Supreme Court decision that invalidated proposed abortion restrictions.

“If you were to ask me what is the single most important job if you are to succeed as attorney general, it’s to convince this governor to stop taking poor cases,” Claman, an Anchorage Democrat, said.

Taylor took issue with Claman’s characterization, saying the governor, in his opinion, doesn’t make those decisions. He said the state Supreme Court has held the attorney general has the discretion to decide what litigation is in the public interest.

Alaska state Rep. Matt Claman, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is shown during a confirmation hearing for Attorney General Treg Taylor, foreground, on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

Alaska state Rep. Matt Claman, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is shown during a confirmation hearing for Attorney General Treg Taylor, foreground, on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

“I’m going to be hands on on those decisions,” he said. Factoring in will be the interests involved, the law and probable outcomes, he said. Taylor added later that attorneys in the Department of Law, which he heads, do good work and there were “good legal arguments” supporting stances taken in the cases cited by Claman.

Taylor also said he would reach out to the Legislature’s attorneys to see if there are ways to come together on major issues. The legislative and executive branches have had at times a contentious relationship, which has included litigation.

Dunleavy appointed Taylor as attorney general in January to replace Ed Sniffen. Sniffen, a longtime attorney with the department, resigned as attorney general while the Anchorage Daily News and the ProPublica investigative journalism organization were preparing an article about allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl three decades ago.

Sniffen cited personal reasons in resigning. He did not respond to messages seeking comment at the time from The Associated Press.

Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner has said Dunleavy was unaware of the allegations against Sniffen when he accepted his resignation. He also has said that as details of the allegations became known, Dunleavy directed Taylor to appoint special outside counsel to look into the matter.

Sniffen replaced Kevin Clarkson. Clarkson submitted his resignation in August for what he called a “lapse of judgment” after details of text messages he sent to another state employee were revealed.

Taylor said he knows little about the human resources investigation in Clarkson’s case but said, “I think ultimately the right thing happened there.” He described Clarkson as a good friend whom he knows to be “an honorable man.”

“He himself would be the first to tell you that he is extremely embarrassed by what had occurred and what had happened and that it was inappropropriate in the workplace,” Taylor said.

Pressed by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins about whether Taylor believed the matter was handled appropriately, Taylor said people should be held accountable.

“I’m also a firm believer that good people sometimes do bad things. And that doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable. We should, and that’s the right thing to do. Right, as a society, we need to do that,” Taylor said. “I guess that’s my closing comments on that issue.”

Claman plans to continue the hearing, to allow for more questions from lawmakers. Taylor’s appointment is subject to legislative approval.

Taylor has been with the department since late 2018. His resume also includes practice in commercial litigation and work as an attorney for an investment firm and for a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 22

David Holmes digs through a pile of boardgames during Platypus Gaming’s two-day mini-con over the weekend at Douglas Public Library and Sunday at Mendenhall Public Library. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Good times keep rolling with Platypus Gaming

Two-day mini-con held at Juneau Public Library.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau man indicted on child pornography charges

A Juneau man was indicted Thursday on charges of possessing or accessing… Continue reading

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Juneau’s municipal and state legislative members, their staff, and city lobbyists gather in the Assembly chambers Thursday meeting for an overview of how the Alaska State Legislature and politicians in Washington, D.C., are affecting local issues.
Local leaders, lawmakers and lobbyists discuss political plans for coming year

Morning meeting looks at local impact of state, national political climates.

This photo shows pills police say were seized after a suspicious package was searched. (Juneau Police Department)
Police: 1,000 fentanyl pills, 86 grams of meth seized

Juneau man arrested on felony charges.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Captain Anne Wilcock recieves the Emery Valentine Leadership Award at the 2022 CCFR awards banquet on Saturday, Jan. 14. (Courtesy Photo / CCFR)
CCFR honors responders during annual banquet

Capital City Fire/Rescue hosted its 2022 awards banquet earlier this month as… Continue reading

A resident and his dog walk past the taped off portion of the Basin Road Trestle after it suffered damaged from a rockslide earlier this week. The trestle is open to pedestrians, but will remain closed to vehicular traffic until structural repairs are made, according to city officials. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Rocky road: Basin Road Trestle open to pedestrians, remains closed to vehicles

City officials say repairs are currently being assessed after damaging rockfall

Most Read