Two attorneys vie to become next Supreme Court justice

Two finalists have been selected for the current vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court. Now it’s up to Governor Sean Parnell to make an appointment.

Either Andy Harrington or Peter J. Maasen will be the next justice.

The Alaska Judicial Council last week interviewed applicants for the vacancy created by Justice Morgan Christen’s recent appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A total of fourteen Alaska attorneys initially applied for the job. All were investigated and evaluated by the Council over the last six months.

Harrington is currently an assistant attorney general in Fairbanks, but he’s perhaps best known as a former staff attorney for Alaska Legal Services. In his biography, he says he worked as a clerk for former Chief Justice Jay Rabinowitz. Harrington has practiced law for the last thirty years in Alaska, but has never served on the bench.

Maasen also has practiced law for thirty years, largely as a private attorney in Anchorage. He lists a wide range of clients from individuals and businesses to non-profits and classes of consumers and public pensioners. He also has never served as a judge.

Governor Parnell will have 45 days to make a selection.

The successful applicant will be one of five justices that serve as the Alaska’s highest court for all state civil and criminal cases. He’ll make $192,372 dollars a year and he’ll come up for his first retention vote in three years. After that, it’ll be every ten years.

The Alaska Judicial Council almost immediately starts the process again to fill another vacancy on the high court with the January retirement of Justice Walter Carpeneti.