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How Does The Alaska Superior Court Work?

The Alaska Superior Court serves as the state’s trial court of general jurisdiction. The superior court exercises original jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters, including:

  • Unlimited felony and misdemeanor cases
  • Unlimited civil cases
  • Domestic relation matters
  • Juvenile cases involving children who have committed crimes or who are abused or neglected
  • Cases involving the property of departed or inept persons
  • Civil appeals from the District Court
  • Appeals from some administrative agencies

Generally, cases that fall under the concurrent jurisdiction of both the Alaska district and superior court are handled by the district court judges. The following cases are brought before the superior court. Unsatisfactory verdicts from the Superior Court may be appealed at the Alaska Court of Appeals.

According to AS.§22.10.120, 45 superior court judges are expected to serve throughout the four judicial districts. The judges are appointed through an assisted appointment method of judicial selection. With this system, the Governor of Alaska is required to appoint judges based on the Alaska Judicial Council’s nominations. The Council may also determine the district where the nominee will serve and live. The governor is required to make this appointment within 45 days from the day the Judicial Council presented the nominations.

The Alaska constitution also empowers the Judicial Council to screen prospects for vacant judicial offices. The Council generally reviews judges’ competence and decides if electors can keep judges for further terms. As stated under Article IV, Section 8 of the Alaska Constitution, the Council consists of seven state citizens. The first three members of the Council must be attorneys recommended by the Alaska Bar Association.

The other three members are chosen by the state governor and confirmed by state legislators. The Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court serves as the chairperson of the Council. To be qualified as a superior court judge, the Council will determine if the applicant is:

  • A United States’ citizen
  • An Alaska resident who has lived for a minimum of five years prior to appointment
  • Approved to practice law in Alaska at the time of nomination
  • Involved in the active practice of law for at least five years

Suppose a high percentage of electors reject an aspirant’s application. In that case, such aspirants will not be eligible to occupy any position in the state’s supreme court, appeals court, superior court, or district court for four years. All newly appointed Superior Court judges are required by law to take an oath of office before taking up the post.

The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice is required by law to select a presiding superior court judge for each judicial district. The presiding judge will be chosen from the 45 Superior Court judges and will serve for one year. Apart from performing usual judicial responsibilities, the presiding judge is tasked with:

  • Delegating pending cases of a superior court judge to subordinate courts (district or magistrate courts)
  • Overseeing the conduct of court judges and their officials
  • Accelerating court proceedings and keeping the court’s affairs up to date
  • Appointing magistrates

A judge of the Alaska superior court is subject to an impeachment by the legislature if found guilty of misconduct. An active superior court judge in Alaska cannot practice law or engage in other personal professions/businesses. These engagements are considered distractions that may affect the judge’s judicial performance.

The length of time a case will take to be resolved in the Superior Court varies. Civil cases take longer than criminal cases. Offenders in a criminal case have a right to a speedy trial, which should be within 120 days from the arrest date. An alleged offender is expected to appear before the superior court within 24 hours after an arrest. The right to a speedy trial rule may be affected by the defendant’s plea to delay the court proceedings. In contrast, most civil cases brought before the superior court may take a year or 18 months before attaining judgment.

Alaska superior court records are created and maintained by the clerks of court and their deputies. As such, interested persons may find these records by contacting the applicable clerk’s office via mail, email, in-person, or facsimile.

Case records from the Anchorage Superior Court can be obtained by submitting the appropriate request form to:

825 W 4th Avenue
Anchorage AK 99501
Phone: (907) 264–0491
Fax: (907) 264 0873

Case records from Fairbanks Superior Court can be obtained by submitting the appropriate request form to:

101 Lacey Street
Fairbanks AK 99701
Fax: (907) 452 9330

Case records from Fairbanks Superior Court can be obtained by submitting the appropriate request form to:

435 South Denali Street
Palmer AK 99645
Fax: (907) 746–4151

Case records from other superior courts in Alaska may be obtained by submitting the request form to their respective locations. Note that the court clerk charges $5 for each paper copy. Subsequent copies made at the same time are $3 each. Authenticated documents and certified copies cost $15 and $10, respectively.

Case records may be located online via the court view search platform created by the Alaska court system. Requesters can use the central repository to find superior court records by inputting the case number. Details like the case type, status, and names of involved persons may be used in locating a superior court record. Below are the addresses and contact details of the Alaska Superior Courts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sitka Superior Court
304 Lake Street
Room 203
Sitka, AK 99835
Phone: (907) 747–3291

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