Thirteen apply for new Homer Superior Court judgeship

Thirteen people have applied for a new Homer Superior Court position created by the passage of Senate Bill 41, which established superior court judgeships for the Homer and Valdez courts, the last two in Alaska that had lacked a superior court judge.

A superior court judge can hear all cases, including felony criminal cases. A district court judge can only preside for misdemeanor criminal cases or for initial arraignment of felony cases. Homer is in the Third Judicial District for Southcentral Alaska, and in the past superior court judges from Kenai commuted to Homer for felony cases.

Homer’s most recent district court judge, Judge Margaret Murphy, retired at the end of June. Magistriate Judge Suzanne Cole of Anchorage has been assigned to the Homer Court to fill in until a new superior court judge is appointed.

A Kenai superior judge will continue to commute to Homer about one week a month to handle Superior Court cases.

The small increase in funding to convert Homer from a District Court to a Superior Court judgeship is in the capital budget. That budget has not yet been passed and is under consideration in the special session going on now of the Alaska Legislature.

According to a press release from the Alaska Judicial Council, the people applying for the Homer Superior Court judge position are:

■ Craig S. Condle, a magistrate judge in Palmer;

■ Martin C. Fallon, a magistrate judge in Kenai,

■ Andrew V. Grannick, an assistant attorney general in Anchorage,

■ Jürgen Jensen, a lawyer in private practice in Homer,

■ Kelly J. Lawson, an assistant attorney general in Anchorage and former prosecutor in Kenai,

■ Russell G. Leavitt, a supervisory general attorney with the U.S. Air Force in Anchorage,

■ David L. Roghair, a magistrate judge in Utgqiagvik,

■ Bride Seifert, an assistant district attorney in Bethel and Kotzebue,

■ Gary Soberay, a practicing attorney for 28 years not currently employed,

■ Colin A. Strickland, a practicing attorney in Anchorage,

■ William W. Taylor, an assistant public advocate in Kenai,

■ Nicholas Richard Torres, an assistant district attorney in Kenai, and

■ Lance Christian Wells, an attorney in Anchorage.

The Alaska Judicial Council seeks public comment on the applicants. To comment, write Susanne DiPietro, Executive Director, Alaska Judicial Council, 510 L. St., Suite 450, Anchorage AK 99501-1295.

The seven-member Alaska Judicial Council will evaluate the applicants by conducting background investigations, surveying Alaska Bar members and conducting personal interviews. Interviews and public hearings will be held in November. From the list the council will select two or more nominees and send their names to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for appointment. The governor has 45 days to make an appointment from the nominees.

Other judgeships also in the process of being selected include the Valdez Superior Court, the Kenai District Court and the Palmer District Court.

Reach Michael Armstong at