Magistrates strive for justice in rural, urban Alaska courts

Alaska’s legal system can seem complex and confusing from the outside looking in. The purpose of today’s show is to make one sliver of the system more clear. We are looking at the role that magistrate judges play in the Alaska Court System.

Map showing Alaska’s judicial districts and court locations, from the Alaska Court System.

Alaska has four judicial districts. The First Judicial District takes in Southeast from Yakutat south to Ketchikan, and points in between. The Second Judicial District jumps to the northern parts of the state, including Utqiagvik, Nome and Kotzebue. District Three covers the Aleutian Islands north and east through Glennallen and covering western Alaska communities such as Kodiak, Dillingham, as well as Homer and Kenai, Anchorage and Palmer. And District Four covers interior Alaska from Fort Yukon and Fairbanks west to Galena and Bethel.

Each of these districts is served by the Superior and District trial courts. Magistrates serve in all four District courts, and in the Second District, magistrates cover the District Court.

One interesting fact about magistrates: they do not have to be lawyers.

On today’s program, we’ll focus on how magistrates work to bring judicial roles to remote places across the state, as well as serving in the state’s major urban areas.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome. Please join us to learn more about the way Alaska’s Court System functions.

HOSTS: Kathleen McCoy and Senior Judge Elaine Andrews


  • Christine Johnson, former Administrator for the Alaska Court System, now retired
  • Anna Moran, former magistrate, retired Superior Court judge and magistrate training judge
  • Tracy Blais, retired non-lawyer magistrate, currently on the magistrate evaluation panel


  • List of currently serving magistrate judges in Alaska, Alaska Court System website
  • Alaska Court System Facebook page
  • Alaska Native Magistrate Judge brings tribal court skills to Petersburg bench, KFSK public radio story, Aug. 26, 2019
  • Alaska Court System Annual Report 2019 (material on magistrate judges pages 9-10 and info on changes in rural courts on pages 14-15 (PDF)


  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, March 9, 2020 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, March 9, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

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