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State of Alaska

Methods of Judicial Selection: Alaska

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 5
Court of Appeals: 3
Superior Court: 40
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: --
Court of Appeals: --
Superior Court: 4
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: statewide
Superior Court: district
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Length of Term
Supreme Court: at least 3 yrs
Court of Appeals: at least 3 yrs
Superior Court: at least 3 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: retention election
Court of Appeals: retention election
Superior Court: retention election
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Court of Appeals: 8 yrs
Superior Court: 6 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Superior Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment
Court of Appeals: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment
Superior Court: first general election more than 3 yrs after appointment
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: peer vote
Court of Appeals: chief justice appoints
Superior Court: chief justice appoints
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: 3 yrs
Court of Appeals: 2 yrs
Superior Court: 1 yr
Qualifications
Supreme Court: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 8 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70
Court of Appeals: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 8 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70
Superior Court: U.S. citizen; state resident 5 yrs; licensed to practice in state; 5 yrs active legal practice; mandatory retirement at 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article 4 of the Alaska Constitution.

Note: The court of appeals hears only criminal appeals.