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All-Alaskan Appellate Panel Marks History for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

By Neil Torquiano, Digital Producer, ntorquiano@ktuu.com
Published On: Oct 13 2013 12:45:11 PM AKDT
All-Alaskan Appellate Panel

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

From Left to Right: Judges Andrew Kleinfeld, Morgan Christen and John Sedwick.

A random computer selection has placed all Alaskan judges on an appellate panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It's the first time that's ever happened, and it made judicial history when the panel convened on Friday.

Judges Morgan Christen, Andrew Kleinfeld and John Sedwick are the lucky judges picked to preside over three cases in Pasadena, California. The three cases on the docket were immigration, certification of nursing homes and one that deals with consumer fraud.

“Really, it's a really broad jurisdictional challenge,” said Judge Morgan Christen. “It's not just the volume of cases, but we have a lot of cases, so that is difficult.”

Judge Christen says she's known the other two judges for years and that it's good to continue working with them on the bench now that they're senior judges and not required to have a full-time case load.

In January 2012, Judge Christen became the first woman to represent Alaska on the Ninth Circuit bench after a nomination by President Obama.

“Well the Ninth Circuit's big challenge is that it has an enormous caseload,” said Hon. Christen. “The judges are stretched pretty thin. By far, we have the largest caseload by judge in the country.”

The Ninth Circuit reviews appeals of federal cases with jurisdiction over nine west coast states, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The court sits regularly in Seattle, Portland and Southern California where most cases are generated. A couple of times a year, the court will also sit in Anchorage and Honolulu.

Editor’s Note: KTUU’s Austin Baird contributed to this story.