Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp speaks to Juneau Police Department Officer Jason Van Sickle during the trial of Leron Carlton Graham in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday. Graham is representing himself on 14 counts of allegedly assaulting a woman and stealing a car in the Lemon Creek area in March. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp speaks to Juneau Police Department Officer Jason Van Sickle during the trial of Leron Carlton Graham in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday. Graham is representing himself on 14 counts of allegedly assaulting a woman and stealing a car in the Lemon Creek area in March. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau district attorney among applicants for judgeship

Current superior court judge applies for spot on court of appeals

Six people have applied to fill an open judge position on the Juneau Superior Court, including Juneau’s district attorney, according to a release from the Alaska Judicial Council.

District Attorney Angie Kemp took over in her position on June 19, 2017, and put her hat in the ring for the judgeship, which is open after the retirement of Juneau District Court Judge Thomas Nave. She is joined in the pool of applicants by: Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Cavanaugh, Tribal Court Judge Debra O’Gara, Valdez District Court Judge Daniel Schally, Palmer Assistant District Attorney Shawn Traini and private defense attorney Julie Willoughby.

This is the second vacancy on the Juneau Superior Court this year. City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Attorney Amy Mead earned the seat in July, even though Gov. Bill Walker originally picked Willoughby before rescinding his selection. Willoughby and O’Gara are both repeat applicants from the most recent application period.

The Judicial Council will go through a months-long process that includes feedback from attorneys and judges who know the applicants. Council members talk to attorneys who have opposed the applicants in court, asking them about an applicant’s diligence, integrity and other factors.

A survey is also sent out to members of the Alaska Bar Association that asks colleagues to rate applicants on five factors: professional competence, integrity, fairness, judicial temperament and suitability of experience.

This will be the third and newest superior court position in Juneau, as the Alaska Legislature voted in February to turn Nave’s position into a second superior court judge position in order to handle the increasing amount of felony cases. This was at the request of Alaska Chief Justice Craig Stowers.

Also of note, current Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg applied for a spot on the Alaska Court of Appeals. Pallenberg was appointed to his position in 2007 after working as an assistant public defender and time in private practice. He is one of six applicants for that position.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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