Alaska Supreme Court Judges Daniel Winfree, Joel Bolger, and Peter Maassen

These three current judges were on the Alaska Supreme Court in 2015 when it declined to hear Mr. Jack’s appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal and Ms. Allard’s opinion.  They had an opportunity to restore Mr. Jack’s constitutional rights and throw out his unlawful conviction, but instead they showed no interest in hearing his case.  

Adding to their previous insult towards Mr. Jack’s constitutional rights, these three judges signed a letter in the summer of 2020 acknowledging their biases in cases involving Alaskan Natives, and the need to make changes to improve the judicial system so that all receive equal treatment.  The letter spoke to the need to help heal the raw wounds of racism and committing the court system to seek “always to ensure equal justice under the law.”

In September of 2019, Mr. Bolger was notified of the bias and constitutional violations that led to Mr. Jack’s wrongful conviction, but has done nothing to make amends.  Since then Mr. Jack has spent hundreds of additional days locked up in a prison cell, yet the Chief Judge of the Alaska Supreme Court and his colleagues have done nothing about it.

Mr. Bolger is also the chairperson on the Alaska Judicial Council, which is primarily responsible for selecting all judges in Alaska. At a public hearing on November 16, 2020, Mr. Bolger cut short comments by public participants, including several Alaska Native women, who were urging the Council to consider the opinions of Alaska Native tribes in their decision making process. Under Mr. Bolger’s leadership, the Council ignored the public’s request to postpone their vote, and nominated individuals for an important Court of Appeal position, without knowing how the tribes felt about those candidates who will be determining their constitutional rights in the future.

If these judges think that making amends in Mr. Jack’s case doesn’t require their full and immediate attention, then perhaps they should volunteer to trade places with Mr. Jack in the interim. 

Each of these judges failed to honor their oath to uphold the Alaska Constitution and promote the administration of justice. Mr. Winfree is next up for review by the Alaska Judicial Council and a retention election in 2022.  Mr. Bolger and Mr. Maassen are next up for review by the Alaska Judicial Council and a retention election in 2026.  

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