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How Does The Alaska District Court Work?

The District Court serves as Alaska’s trial court of limited jurisdiction. It was created by the Alaska constitution in 1959 to resolve all minor cases in the state. Court cases brought before district courts are handled by district court judges or judicial officers (magistrate judges) depending on the case type. According to Sec. 22.15.020 of the Alaska Statutes, The District Court consists of 19 district court judges and 53 magistrate judges. However, the number may change as deemed fit by the Alaska Supreme Court.

As a court of limited jurisdiction, the District Court hears minor civil and criminal cases including:

  • Misdemeanors, infractions, and other lesser offenses in the State (AS Sec. 22.15.060.)
  • Violations of ordinances in cities and boroughs
  • Issuing arrest and search warrants or summons
  • Civil lawsuits involving claims to a sum not exceeding $100,000 per claimant (AS Sec. 22.15.030)
  • Small claims cases (not exceeding $10,000 in most cases; $20,000 for small claims from the Department of Labor) (AS Sec. 22.15.040)
  • Court cases that involve children during urgent situations;
  • Domestic violence cases
  • Investigations and trials on the assumption of death

The Court of Appeals also issues arrest and search warrants to law enforcement. The Superior Court usually hears civil appeals from the Alaska District Court. However, an aggrieved party has the right to appeal straight to the Court of Appeals.

Judicial officers serving in a district court are known as magistrate judges. They have limited authority than the district court judge, and their jurisdiction includes cases involving:

  • Infractions/violations of municipal ordinances
  • Traffic infractions in Alaska and other lesser crimes
  • Proceedings in state misdemeanors (provided that the defendant chooses, in writing, to be tried by a magistrate judge)
  • Issuance of search, arrests, or summon;
  • Felony crimes (preliminary hearings only);
  • Civil cases not exceeding $10,000 maximum;
  • Small claims cases ($10,000 maximum for most cases and $20,000 for wage claims brought by the Department of Labor);
  • Emergency cases involving kids;
  • Domestic violence cases;
  • Investigations and trials on the assumption of death;
  • Writs of habeas corpus;
  • Marriage solemnization and notary public duties;
  • Reviewing an administrative revocation of a driver’s license;
  • Extradition (fugitive from justice) cases

Judges of the Alaska district court are assigned to the office by the Judicial Council of Alaska. 2 years after their first appointment, district court judges must run for retention elections. Generally, district court judges must be:

  • Above 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen and a state resident for at least five years.
  • Be licensed to practice law for at least three years.

Note that prospective judges must have served as a magistrate for at least seven in the state. Magistrate judges are not necessarily lawyers. However, they must be below 21 years old and must be US citizens. Also, they must have lived in Alaska for not less than six months before the appointment. The presiding judge of the judicial district selected by the Supreme Court has the power to appoint magistrate judges.

All appointed judges and judicial officers are mandated according to AS Sec. 22.15.180 to take an oath of office. Each district judge and each magistrate shall hold court at times and places assigned by the presiding judge.

The length of a district court case in Alaska depends on the case type. Generally, criminal offenders are arraigned in district courts within 34 hours of arrest. Misdemeanor or Infractions are resolved within 120 days in compliance with the state’s speedy trial rule. Typically, civil court cases take a longer time—up to a year—to be resolved. However, small claims cases may be resolved within a shorter time.

The clerk of each district court in Alaska is tasked with creating and keeping case records. These records contain details such as court dockets, transcripts, names of the plaintiff/defendant,f the presiding judge’s name, and names of legal representatives. Interested persons can gain access to these records by using the courtview search platform created by the Alaska court system.

Requesters can locate district case records by using the case number or other relevant details of the case. Alternatively, requesters may visit the clerk of court in the district court where the issue was resolved. A copy of a paper file costs $5, while subsequent copies made at the same time are $3. The clerk charges $10 for certified copies and $15 for authenticated/exemplified copies. Below are the addresses and contact details of all district courts in Alaska:

Anchorage District Court
825 West 4th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 264–0514

Angoon District Court
700 Aan Deina Aat Street
P.O. Box 250
Angoon, AK 99820
Phone: (907) 788–3229

Aniak District Court
2 Birch Road,
P.O. Box 147
Aniak, AK 99557
Phone: (907) 675–4325

Barrow District Court
1250 Agvik Street
P.O. Box 270
Barrow, AK 99723
Phone: (907) 852–4800

Bethel District Court
204 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway
P.O. Box 130
Bethel, AK 99559
Phone: (907) 543–2298

Cordova District Court
500 Water Street
P.O. Box 898
Cordova, AK 99574
Phone: (907) 424–7312

Delta Junction District Court
Mile 266 Richardson Highway
P.O. Box 401
Delta Junction, AK 99737
Phone: (907) 895–4211

Dillingham District Court
476 Emperor Way South
P.O. Box 909
Dillingham, AK 99576
Phone: (907) 842–5215

Emmonak District Court
1 Housing Road
P.O. Box 176
Emmonak, AK 99581
Phone: (907) 949–1748

Fairbanks District Court
101 Lacey Street
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: (907) 452–9277

Fort Yukon District Court
East 3rd Avenue
P.O. Box 211
Fort Yukon, AK 99740
Phone: (907) 662–2336

Galena District Court
P.O. Box 167
Galena, AK 99741
Phone: (907) 656–1322

Glenallen District Court (Ahtna Building)
Mile 115 Richardson Highway
P.O. Box 86
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone: (907) 822–3405

Ketchikan District Court
415 Main Street
Room 400
Ketchikan, AK 99901
Phone: (907) 225–3195

Haines District Court
219 Main Street
P.O. Box 169
Haines, AK 99827
Phone: (907) 766–2801

Homer District Court
3670 Lake Street
Building A
Homer, AK 99603
Phone: (907) 235–8171

Hoonah District Court
300 Front Street
P.O. Box 430
Hoonah, AK 99829
Phone: (907) 784–3274

Hooper Bay District Court
1 Uniak Avenue
P.O. Box 89
Hooper Bay, AK 99604
Phone: (907) 758–4860

Juneau District Court (Dimond Court Building)
123 4th Street
P.O. Box 114100
Juneau, AK 99811
Phone: (907) 463–4700

Kake District Court
264 Silver Spike Road
P.O. Box 100
Kake, AK 99830
Phone: (907) 785–3651

Kenai District Court
125 Trading Bay Drive
Suite 100
Kenai, AK 99611
Phone: (907) 283–3110

Kodiak District Court
204 Mission Road
Room 124
Kodiak, AK 99615
Phone: (907) 486-1600

Kotzebue District Court
605 3rd Avenue
P.O. Box 317
Kotzebue, AK 99752
Phone: (907) 442-3208

Naknek District Court
1 Main Street
P.O. Box 229
Naknek, AK 99633
Phone: (907) 246–4240

Nenana District Court
102 West 8th Street
P.O. Box 449
Nenana, AK 99760
Phone: (907) 832–5430

Nome District Court
113 Front Street
P.O. Box 1110
Nome, AK 99762
Phone: (907) 443–5216

Palmer District Court
435 South Denali Street
Palmer, AK 99645
Phone: (907) 746–8181

Petersburg District Court
17 North Nordic Drive
P.O. Box 1009
Petersburg, AK 99833
Phone: (907) 772–3824

Prince of Wales (Craig) District Court
1330 Craig-Klawock Highway
P.O. Box 646
Craig, AK 99921
Phone: (907) 826–3306

Seward District Court
410 Adams Street
P.O. Box 1929
Seward, AK 99664
Phone: (907) 224–3075

Skagway District Court (McCabe Building)
7th Avenue & Spring Street
P.O. Box 495
Skagway, AK 99840
Phone: (907) 983–2368

Tok District Court
Mile 1313.5 Alaska Highway
P.O. Box 187
Tok, AK 99780
Phone: (907) 883–5171

Unalakleet District Court
250 UVEC Way
P.O. Box 250
Unalakleet, AK 99684
Phone: (907) 624–3015

Unalaska District Court
204 West Broadway
P.O. Box 245
Unalaska, AK 99685
Phone: (907) 581–1379

Valdez District Court
213 Meals Avenue,
P.O. Box 127
Valdez, AK 99686
Phone: (907) 835–2266

Wrangell District Court (Wrangell Public Safety Building)
431 Zimovia Highway
P.O. Box 869
Wrangell, AK 99929
Phone: (907) 874–2311

Yakutat District Court
508 Max Italio Drive
P.O. Box 426
Yakutat, AK 99689
Phone: (907) 784–3274

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