3 area lawyers vying for judge's position

Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Three of eight attorneys who have applied for the position of Kenai Superior Court judge practice law on the Kenai Peninsula.

Applications for the position, which was left vacant by the death of Judge Jonathan H. Link on March 25, are being evaluated by the Alaska Judicial Council.

Among the applicants are Kenai District Attorney Dwayne W. McConnell, and Phil N. Nash and Charles Allen Winegarden, both currently in private practice in Kenai.

Applicant evaluations include background investigations, a survey of members of the Alaska Bar Association and personal interviews, according to a statement by Larry Cohn, executive director of the judicial council.

Survey results are expected to be made public June 25, candidate interviews will be conducted in late July, and a public hearing will be held in Kenai at that time.

The council will submit names of two or more nominees to the governor, who will have 45 days to make an appointment from the judicial council's list.

Kenai candidate Winegarden, 64, has been an Alaska resident for 39 years and has practiced law for more than 17 years. A graduate of Willamette University Law School in Salem, Ore., his practice includes corporate, construction, criminal, marital, personal injury and property damage law.

Winegarden said he applied for the judgeship based on the need in the court system for more functioning judges.

"There's a big caseload here," he said.

"I have done a lot of (Office of Public Advocacy) work and have a wide range of experience. I know the people here," he said.

Nash, 61, specializes in appellate, marital, probate, small business and real estate law. An Alaska resident for 28 years, he has practiced law for 24 years. He is a 1973 graduate of the University of Wyoming Law School.

"I have not done too much criminal law," Nash said. "I was a county attorney in Wyoming for one year. It would take a little while to get that under my belt. I don't feel it's an obstacle. I have a good feeling for this community."

McConnell, 54, has been the Kenai district attorney for more than five years. A 1975 graduate of the University of Missouri in Kansas City, he has been an Alaska resident for 23 years and practiced law for 25 years.

He declined to comment on his application while a decision is pending.

The other applicants for the Kenai judge position include Valdez District Court Judge Joel H. Bolger, Anchorage District Court Judge Sigurd E. Murphy and Charles T. Huguelet, an assistant Alaska attorney general.

Paul E. Olson, a hearing examiner with the Alaska Regulatory Commission, and Richard D. Kibby, an Anchorage private practice attorney, also have applied.

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