The Alaska Supreme Court is the highest state court in Alaska. The Supreme Court is comprised of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. All Justices are appointed by the Governor of Alaska. The State has a merit selection system for judges and justices. The five justices select one of their members to be the Chief Justice by majority vote. The Chief Justice holds that office for three years and may not serve consecutive terms.
The Alaska Supreme Court administers the State’s judicial system and hears appeals from lower State Courts. The Supreme Court hears cases on a monthly basis in Anchorage, approximately quarterly in Fairbanks and Juneau, and as needed in other Alaskan communities. The decisions of the Alaska Supreme Court are binding on all other Alaska state courts, and the only other court that may reverse or modify those decisions is the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Alaska Supreme Court has final appellate jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters in the State. The Supreme Court may also exercise its discretion to hear matters in which relief is not otherwise available. This includes bar admission, attorney discipline matters and questions of state law certified from federal courts.
Under Article IV, Section 15 of the Alaska Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to make and promulgate rules for the administration of all courts in the State and for practice and procedure in civil and criminal cases. The Supreme Court has also adopted rules for the practice of law in Alaska and procedural rules for children’s matters, probate, and appeals. However, the Alaska Legislature may change the Court’s procedural rules by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.