Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel M. Bolger, center is escorted into the House Chamber by Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, and Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel M. Bolger, center is escorted into the House Chamber by Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, and Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Capitol Live: Judiciary is strong, but needs additional funding, Chief Justice tells Legislature

Live updates from the capitol.

Summary: Bolger said the court system is committed to completing its duties even with reduced budget. Speaking with reporters after the speech, Bolger said though there were some conflicts between the judiciary and the other branches of government, he had trust in the system. The framers of the Alaska constitution crafted a good system for the selection of judges, and that they had been able to learn from the experience of the previous 48 state court systems.

12:06 p.m.

HB 115, passes the House, 24-15.


The House is back in session and discussing bills that were left unfinished from Monday. Currently representatives are debating Rep. Chris Tuck’s, D-Anchorage, bill on voting by mail.

Opponents of the bill argue the bill would perpetually send ballots to people who may not be using them to vote. That presents a cost to the state and is not efficient. Under Tuck’s proposal, ballots would stop being sent after five years of unanswered ballots.

Earlier, Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, submitted an amendment that would have moved all municipal elections to the fall, but that failed.

11:32 a.m.

The court system must be able to make decisions independently, outside of any political interests or financial incentives, Bolger says. The court system is committed to providing equal justice for all.

Despite the decreased staffing the courts are determined to do their duties to the best of their abilities, Bolger said.

11:28 a.m.

Therapeutic courts have shown to be very effective in reducing recidivism, Bolger says, but they are resource intensive.

“Our statewide coordinator is in dire need of assistance,” he says, and the court system is asking for funding for a deputy coordinator.

11:25 a.m.

The state does need limited additional funds, Bolger says. There is a backlog of criminal cases that needs additional funding.

The three judges on that backlog are working a grueling schedule, he says, but there are still a number of felony cases coming in.

“We cannot continue without additional funding,” he says.

Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, has a bill that would temporarily add a fourth judge that would help work through the backlog.

11:17 a.m.

The greatest challenge to the judiciary are the cuts to the state budget Bolger says. He thanks the legislature for funding what they can under the current circumstance.

“The court system does not have optional programs,” Bolger says. “In fact, we have seen an unprecedented growth in our case-loads.”

While the court system can’t cut back on its duties, efficiencies have been found within the system that have streamlined the process.

9 a.m.

Today at the Capitol: Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger will address a joint session of the Legislature to give his State of the Judiciary speech. The state’s court system has not be spared from budget reductions in the past few years. While Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s supplemental budget for FY2020 does include some funds for legal services in rural Alaska, the governor’s vetoes to judiciary funds are one of the items cited by the campaign to recall the governor.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s crisis stabilization center during its unveiling on June 14, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital shuts down programs at recently opened Aurora Behavioral Health Center

Crisis stabalization program halted at center due to lack of funds and staff, officials say.

A car on Gastineau Avenue is partially buried by a mudslide that occurred during record rainfall on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Photo by Simba Blackman)
New July rainfall record set for Juneau with a week to go; Suicide Basin nears 2023 fill level

No more heavy storms expected this month, according to forecaster.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Board of Trustees votes for a new chair and vice chair during a meeting in Fairbanks on Wednesday. (Screenshot from APFC livestream)
Ellie Rubenstein resigns from Permanent Fund board, Ethan Schutt displaced as chair in wake of email allegations

Trustees elect new chair, vice chair Wednesday morning; Rubenstein announces resignation hours later

Police and other emergency officials treat Steven Kissack after he was shot on Front Street on Monday, July 15, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Names of officers involved in death of Steven Kissack released, along with more details of standoff

JPD states Kissack threatened to kill officers; one officer who fired gun cleared in 2016 shooting.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks on Jan. 4, 2024, at a town hall meeting on the possible Albertsons-Kroger grocery merger. The meeting was held at the Teamsters Local 959 headquarters in Anchorage. Peltola said on Tuesday she has not decided whether to support her party’s likely candidate, Vice President Kamala Harris. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Mary Peltola withholds support for Kamala Harris, is ‘keeping an open mind’

Congresswoman says she’s considering Harris presidency’s affect on Alaska as an oil-dependent state.

People arrive for a service at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Lawsuit: Resurrection Lutheran Church leaders have been ousted, clarity in ‘ministerial work’ needed

Pastor Karen Perkins, two others targeted in long-brewing feud at church known for helping homeless.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, July 21, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, July 20, 2024

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

Most Read