Juneau attorney named new head of state's criminal law agency

Posted: Thursday, May 02, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau attorney has been named the new head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Law, Attorney General Bruce Botelho announced Wednesday.

Pat Gullufsen, 55, replaces Cynthia Cooper, the former deputy attorney general in charge of the criminal division. Cooper resigned last month following two controversial cases and criticism of her office by a state judge and a federal judge.

Gullufsen served as Juneau's district attorney for five years and as an assistant district attorney in Fairbanks for four years. He spent seven years in private practice in Juneau as a partner in the law firm of Gullufsen & Nave. Since 1992, Gullufsen has served as an assistant attorney general, specializing in labor and employment litigation.

Gullufsen is a lifelong Alaskan who was raised in Juneau. As head of the criminal division, he will earn $91,600 per year.

Gov. Tony Knowles approved the appointment this week.

Cooper announced her resignation April 8 following a scathing rebuke from Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link.

The judge said Cooper and her assistants singled out Wally Tetlow, an assistant public defender involved in an injury traffic accident. Link said Cooper's office treated Tetlow more harshly than other defendants would have received after a car crash.

The felony prosecution of Tetlow was ''spiteful and malicious,'' Link said in his ruling. He threw out two felony assault charges against Tetlow.

Tetlow had agreed to plead guilty to reckless driving and another misdemeanor after crashing his car into a light pole, slightly injuring a passenger, early on Aug. 29, 2001.

Prosecutors, however, rejected the deal and took the case to a grand jury. Tetlow was then charged with two counts of felony assault.

After Cooper's departure, Tetlow went back to the original deal, pleading no contest to reckless driving and misdemeanor assault. He was given the choice of five days in jail or 40 hours of community service on each count. He chose community service.

Cooper also came under fire in federal court over her handling of sex offender registration cases.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland ruled in January that Alaska's sex registration law is unconstitutional for pre-1994 sex offenders. He ordered a halt to prosecution of such offenders.

In March, Holland threatened to cite Cooper and the attorney general's office for disobeying his order, but stopped short of that since attorneys took no significant court action in those cases. The state is appealing Holland's ruling.

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