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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