Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he will fill a vacancy in the Palmer Superior Court soon, and that he will choose from the list of nominees provided by the Alaska Judicial Council.

According to a Wednesday news release from the governor's office, Dunleavy made his decision following a "productive and fruitful" meeting on Tuesday with Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger.

On Tuesday the governor said he planned to meet with Bolger, almost a week after declining to fill the vacancy until he learned more information about applicants that the Alaska Judicial Council chose not to nominate. According to Alaska law, the governor should have filled the position by now, but he said he first wanted clarification about the process.

In January, the Alaska Judicial Council narrowed a field of 11 applicants to three nominees: John Cagle, Christina Rankin and Kristin Stohler. The three judges were selected to fill two open spots on the Palmer Superior Court. One nominee, John Cagle, was appointed by Dunleavy. Cagle will likely fill the position recently vacated by Judge Gregory Heath who retired at the end of last year.

Following Tuesday's meeting with the chief justice, Dunleavy says he will choose the new Palmer Superior Court judge from the council's nominees to take the place of Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White, who will retire next month.

Executive director for the Alaska Judicial Council Susanne DiPietro said in an earlier interview it’s rare for a governor to reject the council’s nominees, but it has happened before under Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.

The Alaska Judicial Council is a nonpartisan citizen committee made up of three attorneys and three community members, with the supreme court chief justice serving as the chair.
Earlier this month, the governor announced his selections to fill vacant judge positions in Alaska Superior and District Courts in Utqiagvik, Kodiak and Anchorage.

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