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Ninth Circuit Seats First All-Alaskan Appellate Panel

All-Alaskan appellate panel, left to right: Senior Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld of Fairbanks, Circuit Judge Morgan Christen of Anchorage, and Senior District Judge John W. Sedwick, of Anchorage.

All-Alaskan appellate panel, left to right: Senior Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld of Fairbanks, Circuit Judge Morgan Christen of Anchorage, and Senior District Judge John W. Sedwick, of Anchorage.

The luck of the draw produced the first All-Alaskan appellate panel in the Ninth Circuit this month. Senior Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld of Fairbanks, Circuit Judge Morgan Christen of Anchorage, and Senior District Judge John W. Sedwick, also of Anchorage, (photo left to right) sat as a panel on October 11th to hear oral arguments at the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals Building in Pasadena, California.

Appellate panels are randomly assigned. In the Ninth Circuit, the clerk of court uses a matrix composed of all active judges and those senior judges who have indicated their availability. On occasion, the Ninth Circuit calls upon district judges to sit on panels when there are insufficient circuit judges to constitute a panel. It is court policy that district judges not participate in the disposition of appeals from their own districts.

The Ninth Circuit hears appeals of cases decided by executive branch agencies and federal trial courts in nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions. All of the states are represented by at least one judge while states with large populations have multiple representatives.