Alaska Legal Overview
Alaska has a unified court system that is completely funded by the state. The Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court is the administrative head of the Alaska court system, which has four levels. The Superior and District courts are trial courts, while appeals are heard by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, which together form the appellate courts. The superior court has general jurisdiction, while the district court has limited jurisdiction over small claims, domestic violence, inquests, search warrants, and summonses. The superior court has the authority to hear all civil and criminal cases.
Top metro Alaska areas for Legal Issues:
1. Alaska has never had the death penalty since becoming the 49th U.S. state on January 3, 1959. Alaska's court systems have been tested by landmark cases and judgments involving civil liberties and privacy rights. In Ravin v. State (1975), the Alaska Supreme Court legalized possession of four ounces of marijuana for personal use, citing the privacy protections offered by the Alaska Constitution. In Morse v. Frederick (2007), the U.S. Supreme Court held that educators suppressing student speech related to promotion of illegal drug use at a school event does not constitute a First Amendment violation of free speech rights.
2. A collaboration of environmental groups announced intentions to file a federal suit seeking to overturn federal permission for Royal Dutch Shell's anticipated exploration drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska.
3. A longtime Alaska resident charged in the 1985 murders an older couple from Washington state couple declined to waive extradition proceedings.
Trending Alaska Legal Topics: The Alaska Bar Association (ABA) currently has more than 4,000 members. All lawyers licensed to practice law in Alaska have to pass the 2 ½ day bar exam and become ABA members. The ABA has a board of governors with nine elected attorneys and three appointments made by the State Governor. This same board acts as a disciplinary board to consider complaints against members and supervise investigations. Review and investigation of judges is handled by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, made up of three state court judges: three attorneys in good standing and three members of the public.