Update: Full story here.
From David Hulen in Anchorage --
Gov. Palin just appointed Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen to the vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court.
The opening was created by the pending retirement of longtime Justice Warren Matthews.
Palin chose Christen over Palmer Superior Court judge Eric Smith, the other candidate whose name was submitted to the governor by the Alaska Judicial Council.
Christen, 47, is currently the presiding judge for the Third Judicial District, an area that encompasses all of Southcentral Alaska. She oversees the work of 23 other Superior Court judges.
Under Alaska's Constitution, she goes straight to the Supreme Court; there's no legislative confirmation. Christen will be subject to approval or rejection by voters in the next general election three years after the appointment (November 2012); after initial approval, justices face a retention vote every ten years.
This is Palin's second Supreme Court appointment. The first was Justice Daniel Winfree of Fairbanks in late 2007.
Read bios of all the current justices here.
Check back later for a full story; here's the statement put out by the governor's office:
Governor Palin Names Christen to Alaska Supreme Court
March 4, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin selected Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen to the Alaska Supreme Court. Christen is the 20th justice appointed to the Court.
“Alaska’s Supreme Court bears the awesome responsibility of ensuring that our court system administers justice in firm accordance with the principles laid down in our state Constitution,” said Governor Palin. “I have every confidence that Judge Christen has the experience, intellect, wisdom and character to be an outstanding Supreme Court justice.”
Christen, 47, was born in Chehalis, Washington. After attending colleges in England, Switzerland, and the People’s Republic of China, she received a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Washington in 1983, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, California, in 1986.
Christen worked as a law clerk to Anchorage Superior Court Justice Brian Shortell from 1986-87, then joined Preston, Gates & Ellis in 1987, becoming a partner in 1992. She was appointed as an Anchorage Superior Court justice in 2002, and has been presiding judge since 2005.
Christen currently serves on the boards of the Alaska Community Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation, and previously served on the boards of the United Way of Anchorage, and of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. A past president of Anchorage Association of Women Lawyers, she has also won the Anchorage Chamber’s Light of Hope award for helping Alaska children in 2004, and won the Anchorage Chamber’s Athena Society Award in 2006. She has been a member of the Downtown Anchorage Rotary Club since 1992.
The Alaska Supreme Court serves as the ultimate court of appeals for the state’s District and Superior Courts. The chief justice and four associate justices hear cases in Anchorage on a monthly basis and in Fairbanks and Juneau on a quarterly basis. The court also administers the state’s judicial system.
Christen will replace Justice Warren Matthews, who has served on the Supreme Court for 22 years, including six years as chief justice, from 1987-1990 and again from 1997-2000. State law bars judges from serving past 70, and Matthews will turn 70 on April 5.
“I am grateful to Justice Matthews for his long years of service to the people of Alaska on the high court,” Governor Palin said.
Under current judicial selection procedures, the Alaska Judicial Council received applications from six Alaska attorneys, winnowed the list to two names, and forwarded them to the governor.