Alaska Gov. Dunleavy appoints two new judges to Anchorage Superior Court

A sign outside an Anchorage courthouse
The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed a public advocate and a private-practice attorney to two vacant seats on the Anchorage Superior Court, his office announced Friday.

Laura Hartz, a 2005 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, and Christina Rankin, a 2002 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, were appointed by the governor after a six-month application and vetting process.

The two new judges will fill seats opened by the impending retirements of Erin Marston and Eric Aarseth.

The governor’s office did not respond to a question asking why the two were selected from a list of six nominees, but both were among the highest-rated applicants in a survey of attorneys licensed to practice in Alaska.

Hartz received a rating of 4.6 out of 5 possible points, the highest ranking of 12 surveyed applicants, while Rankin received a rating of 4.3 out of 5, tying for third. 

Kari McCrea, an Anchorage District Court Judge, received the second-highest rating and was not selected.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Kate Demarest was also among the unselected nominees; she is a nominee for an Alaska Supreme Court vacancy that will be filled later this month and remains a candidate for that higher office.

According to her official biography, Hartz has been in Alaska since 2006, when she joined the Alaska Department of Law, working in its child protection division. After spending two years on the East Coast, she returned to Alaska, working 10 years as a trial lawyer for the Department of Law. 

She joined the Office of Public Advocacy in 2020, working on child-in-need-of-aid cases, juvenile delinquency cases and volunteered with Alaska Legal Services, answering landlord-tenant questions.

Rankin’s biography states that she moved with her husband to Bethel in 2002 “for what was intended to be a one-year adventure as a Superior Court Clerk.”

She stayed in the state, moving to Anchorage and joining the firm Guess & Rudd, where she specializes in civil litigation.

Rankin said she volunteers with the March of Dimes and AK Child & Family.

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