House passes bill to publish timeliness of judge's decision

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state House passed a bill Sunday to include information on the timeliness of a state court judge's decisions in the state Voter's Guide when a judge comes up for a retention vote.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, passed by a vote of 24-13.

Under state statutes, judges are not paid if matters referred to them for opinions or decisions are uncompleted for a period of more than six months. Under the bill passed by the House, such information would be published with a judge's biographical information provided to voters.

Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, voted against the measure calling it called it a gratuitous slap against judges.

''There are often legitimate reasons that slow the production of an opinion,'' Berkowitz said.

Rep. Eldon Mulder defended the bill, saying it provided valuable information that would, otherwise, be unavailable. Since judges stand for retention votes but are unopposed, the information does not come out in a campaign, Mulder said.

''We have opponents,'' Mulder said. ''There is no one running against a judge.''

The bill could come up for a reconsideration vote before going back to the Senate for concurrence on changes made in the House.

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