After serving an initial term of two years (district court judges) or three years (superior and appellate court judges), every judge must appear on the ballot for approval or rejection by the voters.
If the judge is retained in that initial election, then he or she must appear on the ballot for approval or rejection at regular intervals.
Supreme Court justices stand every ten years, court of appeals judges stand every eight years, superior court judges stand every six years and district court judges stand every four years.
Elections in which voters decide whether a judge should serve another term are called “retention elections.”
How can voters make informed decisions on whether judges should be retained?
Alaska law requires the Alaska Judicial Council to evaluate the performance of judges and to publicize its evaluations and recommendations.
Why should we care about retention elections and judges?
You, or someone you care about, may appear before a judge at some point.
Judges preserve the rights of citizens, decide child custody and other important family matters, resolve business disputes both large and small, send people to jail, and make other decisions that affect people’s lives in fundamental ways.
The Alaska Judicial Council publishes its evaluations on its website at www.knowyouralaskajudges.com. The evaluations can also be reviewed in the Official Election Pamphlet, mailed to all Alaskan voters.