Justice Jennifer Henderson Ascends to Alaska Superb Courtroom

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Jennifer Stuart Henderson to be the most recent member of the Alaska Superb Courtroom on July 7. Lawyer at Regulation Mag had the chance to invite the incoming Justice Henderson some questions relating to her profession, her aspirations for her time at the bench and her outlook at the courtroom machine. 

AALM: What first drew you to a profession within the regulation?

JH: I used to be first attracted to the regulation by way of a need to lend a hand other folks. I appreciated the speculation of advocating for other folks whose voices would possibly in a different way be misplaced in a prison machine that may be moderately daunting even for skilled legal professionals. Early in my prison research, I used to be specifically attracted to aiding and representing youngsters and adolescence in a lot of prison contexts. My paintings has, after all, shifted over the years, however I proceed to be drawn by way of the speculation of serving the general public and assuring up to conceivable that every one individuals are ready to get right of entry to, and to really feel heard inside of, the courtroom machine.

AALM: What are you maximum having a look ahead to on your new position at the Alaska Superb Courtroom?

JH: I’m maximum having a look ahead to diving into the paintings – getting the chance to be told extra in regards to the number of instances and controversies that come sooner than the Alaska Superb Courtroom, researching and achieving selections with my fellow Justices about software of the regulation or rules in any given case, and conveying that decision-making to the events and to others in some way this is transparent and comprehensible. I’m very excited to get to paintings with the fantastic crew of Justices sitting at the Courtroom.

AALM: What was once your first response upon receiving the appointment?

JH: I may just no longer prevent shaking, and it took me days to procedure that this was once in point of fact taking place.

AALM: What do you await being the best distinction between serving at the Awesome Courtroom and the State Superb Courtroom? How do you intend to assimilate?

JH: The speculation of making use of the regulation to a given set of details, and explaining the Courtroom’s decision-making in a fashion that furthers working out of the regulation, would be the similar, however I do know there shall be such a lot of variations in what the day by day paintings will seem like on an appellate degree.

As an ordeal pass judgement on, I’ve develop into acquainted with an excessively busy docket encompassing all kinds of instances, and spending maximum, and every so often all, of on a daily basis within the court, listening to without delay from events to be able to decide factual problems and to come to a decision the instances coming sooner than me. Continuously, I might give an explanation for my resolution to the events on document on the finish of a listening to. And I had to make selections by myself, every so often with imperfect data and no longer a substantial amount of time. I await that paintings at the Alaska Superb Courtroom may even contain a big quantity of instances relating to all kinds of topics, however I be expecting that the paintings procedure itself shall be extra planned and centered upon figuring out and every now and then deciphering the regulation to be carried out in any given controversy, and reviewing the trial courtroom’s software of regulation.

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The method of decision-making relating to the ones issues will contain deliberation with a bunch of Justices, which shall be a large exchange for me – and a welcome one. I additionally be expecting that a lot of my paintings transferring ahead will contain focal point on communique of choices in writing, being aware no longer best of the events in a given case, but additionally of what the general public can and must perceive about our selections and what they might imply or how they might follow in a lot of contexts transferring ahead.

Boiled down, there are going to be numerous adjustments, and I believe that assimilating and making the ones transitions would require me to paintings laborious, however to have persistence with myself. It is going to even be the most important to pay attention and be informed from others round me, whilst additionally being in a position to state my ideas.

AALM: Whilst serving at the Awesome Courtroom, you discussed the problem between successfully dealing with instances whilst giving every the eye they deserve. Do you await this stability being much more of a problem on your new position?

JH: I imagine that rigidity will live on, given the quantity and number of issues that come sooner than the Superb Courtroom; alternatively, I believe that the method of appellate overview by way of a collective crew of Justices will permit higher alternative for deliberation on prison problems than I used to be ready to revel in at the Awesome Courtroom.

AALM: Are you able to let us know which judges or justices you maximum appreciate? What characteristics of theirs do you hope to emulate?

JH: There’s no one explicit Pass judgement on or Justice that I maximum appreciate, as I’ve nice admire for the more than a few strengths of such a lot of previous and present Judges and Justices. I might be amiss, regardless that, if I didn’t in particular glance to the Alaska Superb Courtroom Justice that I had the chance to clerk for once I first got here to Alaska, Justice Warren Matthews. I like such a lot of of the qualities that Justice Matthews brings to his paintings, predominant amongst them his intelligence, nice thoughtfulness, skill to talk and write obviously and meaningfully, and his love for his neighborhood and for Alaska. I do hope to emulate the ones qualities. I additionally imagine that many prior and present Judges and Justices in Alaska, and around the nation, have completed a substantial amount of paintings to develop other folks’s get right of entry to to the courtroom machine and working out of prison processes, which furthers litigants’ talents to be and to really feel heard. I’m hoping to give a contribution to that focal point transferring ahead.

AALM: What are some problems you await coming sooner than the Courtroom within the coming years?

JH: Given the Judicial Canons that govern my paintings, It’s not that i am ready to remark in particular at the problems and/or controversies that can come sooner than me someday. According to some familiarity with the Courtroom’s paintings over the years, regardless that, I will be able to say that I be expecting there’ll proceed to be a vast array of appeals, involving broadly various subject material, that come sooner than the Courtroom, working the gamut from appeals of divorce and custody selections, to petitions for listening to in felony instances, to appeals elevating problems with statutory development and/or State Constitutional questions, and past. As with the State’s trial courts, the Alaska Superb Courtroom sees and considers such all kinds of problems and questions. That is a part of each the problem and the delight of having to try this paintings.

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AALM: What first introduced you to Alaska?

JH: I first got here to Alaska nearly precisely 20 years in the past, in August 2001, to function a regulation clerk for Justice Matthews. As with many of us who come to Alaska and fall in love with the state, I believed it might be a one-year journey and that I might go back to California (I’m from Southern California) to reside and follow after that. Because it became out, I in point of fact got here to like the State of Alaska, and in addition met my now-husband all the way through that first 12 months right here. Following my clerkship with Justice Matthews, I did go back to Southern California for a one-year clerkship dedication there, however temporarily moved again to Alaska after that, and now am so lucky to get to do the paintings that I do and to be elevating my circle of relatives right here.

AALM: Let us know about probably the most biggest classes you realized as an assistant district lawyer.

JH: I realized such a lot of vital classes in that paintings. A few of the ones classes needed to do with prison follow and construction of abilities — the best way to construct a case, the significance of discretion in screening instances, construction the boldness to talk and argue in courtroom, the best way to broach other facets of a jury trial. I believe much more vital than the ones classes, regardless that, was once feeling out the kind of lawyer that I sought after to be and furthering that during my interplay with the courtroom, with opposing suggest, and with the folks that I labored with. I additionally realized the significance of viewpoint, and compassion, in drawing near and dealing with more than a few facets of the instances that I labored on. Additional, I had the chance to revel in paintings within the Coordinated Sources Challenge (higher referred to as the Psychological Well being Courtroom), evolved and headed at the moment by way of Pass judgement on Stephanie Rhoades, who has develop into a mentor in my paintings as a pass judgement on. This revel in helped to introduce to me the significance of the healing courtroom style.

AALM: Let us know about your paintings with Women at the Run Serving Southcentral Alaska.

JH: I used to be firstly a co-founder of Women at the Run Serving Southcentral Alaska. Women at the Run is a global group that makes use of working as a platform for operating with women in fundamental colleges and serving to them to navigate demanding situations inside of themselves, and in operating with and speaking with others and taking part inside of their better communities. One among my co-founders recruited a lot of volunteers, together with me, to begin a neighborhood bankruptcy of Women at the Run, and within the fall of 2011, we opened our first program at North Celebrity Basic.

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This system grew relatively temporarily, and my position transitioned over the years (relying on my paintings and my circle of relatives) from co-founder, to train, to 5k coordinator, to board member. I discovered my time as a trainer, attending to paintings without delay with members, to be specifically rewarding – getting to listen to the women discuss their stories, hopes, and worries, and seeing them over the process this system reach targets and assert themselves in ways in which they won’t have concept conceivable.

Given the clicking of labor and circle of relatives, I’ve no longer been ready to take part without delay in Women at the Run all the way through the previous few years, however the native nonprofit appears to be doing splendidly and achieving many scholars within the Southcentral neighborhood, and I’m hoping to go back to volunteering wih them someday.

AALM: What are some problems dealing with the judicial machine in Alaska that you just imagine want to be addressed?

JH: I imagine that our courtroom machine has been operating to handle, and can proceed operating to broaden tactics to make the courtroom machine and its processes extra available to and comprehensible for contributors of the general public, and assuring up to conceivable that litigants and the general public in most cases are ready to grasp selections made by way of our courts and the explanations for the ones selections. It is necessary as nicely for the courtroom machine, and the folks comprising it, to proceed to concentrate on problems and difficulties that have an effect on other folks and communities inside of Alaska, specifically as such problems and difficulties might impact the power of other folks to get right of entry to courtroom processes and/or to consider in the ones processes.

AALM: Let us know about your self outdoor the administrative center. What do you do to unwind?

JH: I’m married and feature two small children, and the youngsters stay my husband and I moderately busy and, I believe, well-grounded and balanced. I like to spend time with my friends and family. I additionally depend on common workout. I like to run, motorbike, and swim, and I compete in triathlons right here in Alaska (even though no longer as steadily as I as soon as did), and follow yoga continuously as nicely.

AALM: What’s one thing your colleagues could be stunned to be told about you?

JH: They could be stunned that I’m very a lot an introvert. I’ve labored with that over the years, to be extra safe in speaking with others and saying myself when suitable, however at middle, I’m an entire introvert.

AALM: Taking a look again to your profession thus far, is there anything else you’d exchange?

JH: I can’t recall to mind anything else that I might exchange. I’ve made quite a lot of errors and indisputably have had losses in instances, however I believe that the ones errors and losses have helped tell my follow transferring ahead, and feature made me a greater pass judgement on and a greater individual, and I be expecting that procedure will proceed.