Winfree selected to be first Alaska-born chief justice of state Supreme Court

Supreme Court justice Daniel Winfree questions the state’s broad authority to regulate shareholder speech during Wednesday’s oral arguments in a case that tests the limit of free speech in Alaska Native corporation board elections. (Screenshots courtesy of KTOO/Gavel Alaska)
Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree questions a lawyer during oral arguments in 2020. Winfree was unanimously selected as the court’s chief justice on Wednesday. (Screenshots courtesy of KTOO 360TV)

Daniel Winfree was selected unanimously on Wednesday as the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court.

Under the Alaska Constitution, justices select the chief justice by a majority vote. The chief justice presides over Supreme Court arguments and conferences and is the administrative head of the judicial branch of the state government.

Winfree is from Fairbanks and will be the first chief justice who was born in Alaska. He worked as a truck driver and in pipeline construction camps for the trans-Alaska pipeline. He also worked as a lawyer in private practice for 25 years before being appointed to the court by Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008.

Winfree’s term starts on July 1, succeeding Chief Justice Joel Bolger. Winfree must retire by February 2023, when he reaches Alaska’s mandatory retirement age for judges of 70. This will prevent him from serving a full three-year term as chief justice.

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