Monday, November 21, 2011

Family Law in the Last Frontier

How Termination of Parental Rights Cases Fare in Alaska's Highest Court
By Lindsey Overton

Lindsey Overton, a third-year student at Albany Law School, is a Co-Executive Director of the Center for Judicial Process, a research assistant for Professor Bonventre, a teaching assistant for Professor Christine Chung's Business Organizations class, and the Managing Editor for Submissions on the Albany Government Law Review. Upon graduation, she will be working as an Appellate Court Attorney for the NYS Appellate Division, 3d Department.
This study was prepared for the State Constitutional Adjudication seminar in Spring 2011.

Alaska is a unique state. It is unique not only due to its geographic position, but also because it is the only state without a law school. The absence of a law school has not, however, contributed to a shortage of lawyers within Alaska’s borders.

Nor has the lack of a law school created a shortage of cases. The Supreme Court of Alaska often issues opinions in more than 100 cases in a year. Cases involving marital dissolution and the effects thereafter “are the most frequently litigated issues before the Alaska Supreme Court.” Due to the extremely high number of parental rights cases appearing before the court recently, this paper will explore Alaska Supreme Court opinions addressing this issue in order to determine how the court typically handles these matters.

This paper will examine the Alaska judicial system and the Alaska Supreme Court. It will then study the recent pattern of all family law cases in Alaska. In its final section, the paper will specifically analyze cases involving the termination of parental rights in order to gauge the court’s position on these issues and to determine whether any patterns actually exist within its decision-making.*
* Citations to references in this introduction are available in the paper.
Read the entire paper HERE.