Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/07/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY


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08:47:45 AM Start
08:48:13 AM Confirmation Hearing: Public Defender – Quinlan Steiner
09:08:44 AM Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics – Dennis “skip” Cook
10:05:21 AM Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics – Lindsey Holmes
10:22:17 AM Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics – Herman G. Walker, Jr.
10:45:52 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmations: TELECONFERENCED
Public Defender - Quinlan Steiner
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics -
Dennis "Skip" Cook
Herman G. Walker
Lindsey Holmes
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 7, 2006                                                                                        
                           8:47 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
Confirmation Hearings:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Public Defender                                                                                                                 
   Quinlan Steiner                                                                                                              
     CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                          
   Dennis "Skip" Cook                                                                                                           
   Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                               
   Herman G. Walker, Jr.                                                                                                        
     CONFIRMATIONS ADVANCED                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
None to report                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Quinlan Steiner                                                                                                             
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Confirmation Candidate                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Dennis "Skip" Cook                                                                                                          
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Confirmation Candidate                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                              
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Confirmation Candidate                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Herman G. Walker, Jr.                                                                                                       
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Confirmation Candidate                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:47:45 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Gene Therriault,  Gretchen Guess, Charlie Huggins,                                                               
and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation Hearing: Public Defender - Quinlan Steiner                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Confirmation Hearing: Public Defender - Quinlan Steiner                                                                     
8:48:13 AM                                                                                                                    
Chair Ralph  Seekins welcomed Mr.  Quinlan Steiner and  asked him                                                               
to  introduce   himself  and  to  describe   his  background  and                                                               
qualifications for the position that he is seeking.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN  STEINER, governor's  appointee for  public defender,                                                               
noted  he was  raised  in Alaska,  graduated  college at  Seattle                                                               
University,  and graduated  from law  school at  Lewis and  Clark                                                               
College  in 1998.  Prior  to  law school  he  volunteered at  the                                                               
public defender agency. During law  school he worked as an intern                                                               
at  the public  defender agency  and  after law  school moved  to                                                               
fulltime.  He said  he moved  quickly into  appeals where  he has                                                               
been  working ever  since.  During that  time,  he has  conducted                                                               
trials, misdemeanor felony, and  handled a traveling calendar for                                                               
St.  Paul  Island.  As  an appellate  attorney,  he  has  handled                                                               
everything from misdemeanors  to complicated, unclassified felony                                                               
cases.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:50:34 AM                                                                                                                    
The  public   defender  agency  has  13   offices  statewide  and                                                               
approximately  80  attorneys.  They handle  appointed  cases  for                                                               
indigent  clients in  criminal  matters, child  in  need of  aide                                                               
matters, as  well as juvenile  delinquent proceedings  and mental                                                               
health  commitment proceedings.  One  challenge  that the  agency                                                               
faces  is  meeting  constitutional  obligations due  to  lack  of                                                               
resources in the budget. He offered to answer questions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:50:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  asked  Mr. Steiner  to  speak about  the                                                               
management challenges in the agency.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER  noted  the  biggest   challenge  is  management  of                                                               
information, particularly  with ensuring that they  are providing                                                               
the  level  of service  they  are  constitutionally obligated  to                                                               
provide. He changed  the management structure to ensure  he has a                                                               
close view  of what is  actually going on  in the agency.  He put                                                               
supervisors  in  charge  of  the   entire  caseload  under  them,                                                               
including the  caseload of  the attorneys who  work for  them. He                                                               
increased the  training and currently is  attempting to implement                                                               
an information database management system.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:52:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr.  Steiner the  challenges the  agency has                                                               
experienced retaining attorneys.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER said  the agency loses a lot of  lawyers in the first                                                               
five  years. After  five years,  attorneys tend  to stay  for the                                                               
long run.  A big  driver is salaries  and workload.  The salaries                                                               
are below what  the public sector pays and the  workload tends to                                                               
be significantly higher.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked for a comparison of salaries.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER  said  the  starting   salary  for  an  attorney  is                                                               
generally  $45,000.  In  comparison,   starting  salary  for  the                                                               
private sector attorney is between $55-75,000.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Mr. Steiner to describe a typical applicant.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:54:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. STEINER noted  that person would be fresh out  of law school.                                                               
The agency does  have more training to offer than  in the private                                                               
sector, as well  as experience. He is currently  trying to expand                                                               
the   training  program   to  increase   the  quality   level  of                                                               
applicants. An  entry-level lawyer could  try as many as  a dozen                                                               
misdemeanor cases the first year.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS  asked Mr.  Steiner whether  he felt  he                                                               
would be at a disadvantage in  his position due to lack of recent                                                               
trial experience.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER  responded he  worked primarily  in appeals  where he                                                               
spent  all of  his time  reviewing  what trial  attorneys do  and                                                               
making judgments about  the issues and the  judicial decisions at                                                               
the trial level.  He has appointed a deputy  public defender that                                                               
has  a  tremendous  amount  of trial  experience  to  manage  the                                                               
supervisors of  each office to  compensate for his lack  of trial                                                               
experience.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:56:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said he has  heard prosecutors proclaim that they                                                               
work harder than public defenders. He asked for a response.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER  opined  that  prosecutors  have  a  tough  job  and                                                               
defenders have a  different job. Public defenders spend  a lot of                                                               
time with  their clients,  which is  a time-consuming  process as                                                               
the system is not easy for the average client to understand.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HOLLIS   FRENCH  asked  Mr.  Steiner   to  describe  his                                                               
relationship with prosecutors in Alaska  and to describe his role                                                               
in management conflict between the two agencies.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:58:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  STEINER said  he met  with [Deputy  Attorney General]  Susan                                                               
Parkes  and  [District  Attorney]  Bob  Linton  to  facilitate  a                                                               
relationship. Both  agencies work hard to  do a good job  for the                                                               
State of  Alaska and the mission  for both is important.  He said                                                               
he tries to facilitate that idea on a management level.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked what it would  take to handle the workload of                                                               
the public defender agency.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER  said  more  resources in  the  form  of  attorneys,                                                               
support staff, investigators and paralegals.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS   asked  the  amount  of   employees,  other  than                                                               
attorneys, that the agency employs.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER said 60.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:01:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  the process he went through  to be appointed                                                               
to the position.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER  informed the committee  that he sent  an application                                                               
to the  Alaska Judicial  Council (AJC), which  was followed  by a                                                               
bar poll. The results were forwarded  to the AJC, where he had an                                                               
interview. His  name was passed  to Governor Frank  Murkowski and                                                               
he   interviewed   with   the   head   of   the   Department   of                                                               
Administration. He was appointed following the interview.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GENE THERRIAULT  asked him  to clarify  the teaching  he                                                               
listed on his resume.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER  said he taught  specifically on  criminal procedure,                                                               
which encompassed the  Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth  Amendment of the                                                               
Constitution of the United States.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:03:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS announced  that the  committee  has concluded  the                                                               
interview. He  voiced support for  getting public  defender case-                                                               
management under control.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 9:03:52 AM.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics -                                                               
Dennis "Skip" Cook                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Confirmation Hearing:  Select Committee  on Legislative  Ethics -                                                           
Dennis "Skip" Cook                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:08:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RALPH  SEEKINS  asked  Mr.   Skip  Cook  to  describe  his                                                               
background and the reason he desires  to hold the position on the                                                               
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. DENNIS "SKIP" COOK said he  was born and raised in Fairbanks,                                                               
Alaska and  has lived there  all his  life except for  time spent                                                               
away at school.  He attended MIT and  Northwestern University. He                                                               
came back  to Alaska  in 1963 and  managed the  mandatory borough                                                               
election. He moved to Juneau and  worked as director of the local                                                               
affairs agency,  assisting boroughs  and municipalities.  He then                                                               
went back  to Fairbanks  to manage  the Centennial  Expedition in                                                               
1967 and then  went to law school. He moved  back to Fairbanks in                                                               
1970 and has practiced law since then.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:11:22 AM                                                                                                                    
He was  appointed to the  Select Committee on  Legislative Ethics                                                               
in 1997  or 1998 and has  served since then. There  has been much                                                               
turnover on  the Committee and so  the main reason he  aspires to                                                               
continue serving is to establish  continuity. He enjoys the work,                                                               
the statutes are complex, and  the questions that come before the                                                               
Committee are interesting.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The primary  purpose of the  Committee is one of  education. Much                                                               
of  the  work is  offering  informal  advise to  legislators  and                                                               
legislative employees as to how  the code has been interpreted to                                                               
apply. The  advisory opinions  are more  formal where  they offer                                                               
advise in  advance of a  situation and  then there are  the cases                                                               
where the Committee is called upon to adjudicate a complaint.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
He said the  Legislature was wise to establish  the Committee and                                                               
to establish it with such a diversity of people.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:13:40 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Cook offered  to continue serving on the  Select Committee on                                                               
Legislative Ethics.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS asked  Mr. Cook to  give an  overview of                                                               
how he came to be on the Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK said  he got  a call  from Chief  Justice Matthews  who                                                               
described the  Committee. He expressed  an interest and  that was                                                               
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked whether he  knew the Chief Justice prior to                                                               
the phone call.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said yes, but not well.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  his  feelings  about  diversity  of  the                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK said  during  his  experience they  have  always had  a                                                               
diverse group.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:15:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked the number one challenge of the Committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said it  was trying to deal with a  law that has complex                                                               
language  and ambiguity.  Over the  years, the  statute has  been                                                               
difficult.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT asked Mr.  Cook whether  his involvement                                                               
with the Rotary Club was coming to a close.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  admitted he has  been on the road  a lot lately  but is                                                               
back and does not plan to travel much for a while.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:17:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr. Cook  to explain what makes  the statute                                                               
so complex.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK said  conceptual and  definitional questions  that were                                                               
undefined in statute have been  difficult to work with. Some have                                                               
since  been defined  by amendments  in legislation  and that  has                                                               
helped. At times the Committee has  had to define things and take                                                               
a position, which sets a precedent.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether a definition by the  Committee has a                                                               
force of law.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said it would have a force of precedent.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether the statute is as easy  to follow as                                                               
a flowchart.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Cook responded  that they have developed  some good flowchart                                                               
illustrations, such as how a hearing process works.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:20:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr. Cook  to describe the training  a member                                                               
would receive.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said the staff generally trains Committee members.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  him  to   describe  the  normal  complaint                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  explained first committee  members are notified  of the                                                               
complaint and that  they need to meet. They  first decide whether                                                               
there is  probable cause and a  violation of the Ethics  Code. If                                                               
so, they  proceed to the  investigative phase and give  notice to                                                               
the person whom  the complaint was lodged against.  Next would be                                                               
the discovery phase and then the hearing.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether there  would be a finding of probable                                                               
cause prior to the investigation.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  said there  could be a  limited investigation  if facts                                                               
determine whether there is probable cause.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  whether   the  Committee  is  required  to                                                               
maintain confidentiality.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said yes, mandated by statute.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Cook  to  identify all  of the  persons                                                               
required to maintain confidentiality.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK admitted  that has been unclear. The  complaint starts a                                                               
file in  the Legislative Ethics  Office and is  confidential. The                                                               
statute is  not clear  on whether the  complainant must  keep the                                                               
complaint confidential.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  whether an  informal opinion  would have  a                                                               
binding effect on the person that asked for one.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  said no. Normally  when a  person asks for  an informal                                                               
opinion they  receive informal advise and  it provides protection                                                               
since they did ask.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:27:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  noted  AS 24.60.170(l)  says  "...except  to  the                                                               
extent  that the  confidentiality  provisions are  waived by  the                                                               
subject of  the complaint,  the person  filing a  complaint shall                                                               
keep confidential the fact that  the person has filed a complaint                                                               
under  this section  as well  as  the contents  of the  complaint                                                               
filed."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said that was recently changed.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  asserted current  law says  the person  filing the                                                               
complaint must retain confidentiality.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT asked  Mr. Cook  to describe  the discussions                                                               
the Committee has had in  regards to the issue of confidentiality                                                               
by the  complainant. He further  asked whether the  Committee has                                                               
discussed  how  to  prevent  themselves  from  being  used  as  a                                                               
political tool.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:29:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  COOK admitted  that  is  a problem  in  the  sense that  the                                                               
Committee  can't sustain  being  bombarded with  complaints of  a                                                               
strictly political nature.  It is a fairly complex  process to go                                                               
through  the complaint-to-decision  procedure  but the  Committee                                                               
must recognize a person's right of free speech.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked the percentage  of complaints filed  with no                                                               
merit to proceed forward.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK responded twenty five percent.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:32:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  whether there  should be  a penalty  when a                                                               
complainant violates the ethics law.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said the penalty would be up to the Legislature.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:34:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  asked Mr. Cook to  clarify the difference                                                               
between the  percentage of  claims with no  merit and  those that                                                               
are politically motivated.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK said  many times  people bring  a complaint  where they                                                               
believe a violation occurred but it actually hasn't.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS asked whether a  legislator could ask the Committee                                                               
to investigate  an accusation for  the purpose of  clearing their                                                               
name.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said they could request an advisory committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:36:36 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  the point  where the  information becomes                                                               
non-confidential.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK  said  the  subject  could  waive  confidentiality  and                                                               
dismissals  are also  public. Other  than that,  the point  is at                                                               
"probable cause."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  the  length  of  time  it  takes  for  a                                                               
complaint to reach the public process.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK responded many things  affect that, including whether or                                                               
not the committee has a  quorum. Campaign periods affect when the                                                               
Committee  can accept  complaints. It  is sometimes  difficult to                                                               
get  members together  and  it is  a complex  matter  to get  the                                                               
process started.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:40:05 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   HUGGINS  asked   whether   he  thought   a  period   of                                                               
confidentiality was unreasonable.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  said no,  but if  the statute were  read that  a person                                                               
couldn't  say  a word  to  anyone  without having  the  complaint                                                               
thrown out, it would be hard  to imagine that any person wouldn't                                                               
mention the issue to another.  He speculated that confidentiality                                                               
could be carried too far.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether he would be more  comfortable if the                                                               
statute said, "...knowingly  and intentionally publicly disclosed                                                               
or caused to be publicly disclosed..."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK  said  it  would  be  hard  to  imagine  a  person  not                                                               
mentioning the issue to anyone.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:43:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said  his intent was that  public disclosure should                                                               
not be allowed.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK  said the Committee was  very troubled by the  case that                                                               
was  cited on  television because  it  was very  public and  very                                                               
political.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:45:41 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HOLLIS   FRENCH  reminded  the  members   of  the  First                                                               
Amendment  and its  powerful history  with  unanimous US  Supreme                                                               
Court  rulings with  respect  to the  degree  of protection  that                                                               
public  officials  can expect  once  they  take office.  He  also                                                               
voiced support for Mr. Cook.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS noted  the administrative ethics code  is easier to                                                               
follow than the legislative ethics code.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK agreed.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:48:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  the basis  and reason  the Committee  would                                                               
spend additional  money to  hire an attorney  to provide  a legal                                                               
opinion.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK advised  members the  Committee  has previously  sought                                                               
advice from legislative  affairs and then determined  there was a                                                               
conflict  for  adjudicated  proceedings.   The  primary  duty  of                                                               
legislative staff  attorneys is to advise  the legislators, which                                                               
would  create a  conflict with  the Committee's  duties (if  they                                                               
were advised by  the same attorney) and so  outside counsel would                                                               
be sought.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS  asked Mr.  Cook how  Committee members  have dealt                                                               
with  conflicts   of  interest  and  asked   whether  there  were                                                               
guidelines to follow.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOK reported  he could  not remember  a time  while on  the                                                               
Committee  that he  had to  recuse  himself because  he knew  the                                                               
subject  of  complaint.  There have  been  times  when  Committee                                                               
members  have had  to  recuse themselves  of a  case  due to  the                                                               
subject matter.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:53:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked him whether he  has ever been on the opposite                                                               
legal side from people that he knew.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said yes.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked the two  things that would make the process                                                               
more effective  and heighten the  confidence level of  the people                                                               
of Alaska.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK suggested a major re-write  of the statute so that it is                                                               
more understandable. Another thing would be  to find a way to let                                                               
people know  that the Committee  is there for  public educational                                                               
use.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:56:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Cook  whether there  was a  penalty for                                                               
making a Bar complaint public.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said he did not know.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  whether  the  Alaska  Supreme  Court  gets                                                               
involved in the Bar rules.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOK said he thinks so.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 10:02:04 AM.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics -                                                                 
Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                              
Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics -                                                              
Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
10:05:21 AM                                                                                                                 
CHAIR   RALPH   SEEKINS   announced  the   next   candidate   for                                                               
confirmation.  He  asked  Ms.  Lindsay Holmes  to  give  a  brief                                                               
description  of her  background  and the  reason  she desires  to                                                               
serve on the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. LINDSEY HOLMES introduced herself  and testified that she was                                                               
born and raised  in Anchorage and i a lifelong  Alaskan. She went                                                               
to law  school at the University  of Chicago and then  accepted a                                                               
clerkship at the Alaska Supreme  Court. Following that she worked                                                               
in  private law  practice  for a  few years  in  real estate  and                                                               
energy  law. She  is currently  working in  a project  management                                                               
firm and is not practicing law.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HOLMES said  her  interest  in the  Committee  goes back  to                                                               
parental influence.  Her mother was  one of the  original members                                                               
of the  Public Office  Commission. She was  raised with  a strong                                                               
sense of  belonging in  the community and  being involved  in the                                                               
community and  government. She further  noted her belief  that it                                                               
is for the good of the public to  have a clear set of rules and a                                                               
solid committee to help people interpret those rules.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:07:58 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS asked  her to  describe the  process for                                                               
getting appointed to the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES  said she received a  call at home from  Chief Justice                                                               
Bryner a  month ago. He  told her  about the Committee  and asked                                                               
whether  she would  serve. She  agreed to  be appointed  and then                                                               
submitted a resume and disclosure forms.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked Ms. Holmes how she knew the Chief Justice.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HOLMES said  she knew  him professionally  and also  went to                                                               
school with his children.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked her opinion  of how an average person would                                                               
be appointed to the Committee.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES  explained that the  Committee offers a link  on their                                                               
website  with   detailed  instructions  on  how   to  apply.  The                                                               
Committee also solicits applications and letters of interest.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:10:45 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  HUGGINS expressed  an interest  in the  Committee having                                                               
diversity and equal opportunity.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  noted she gives links  and information to                                                               
her constituents via her website. She  asserted it was one of the                                                               
many  roles as  a legislator  to  inform constituents  of a  wide                                                               
variety of  boards and  community involvement  opportunities. She                                                               
also noted  for the record  that Ms.  Holmes' mother and  her own                                                               
mother were friends.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GENE THERRIAULT  asked  Ms. Holmes  to  speak about  her                                                               
involvement with the Nature Conservancy.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES  said she has been  a member of the  board of trustees                                                               
for two  years with the local  Alaska chapter. She said  it is an                                                               
interesting   group  with   diverse  interests.   They  look   at                                                               
biodiversity  and  the  best  way   to  balance  development  and                                                               
conservation.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked Ms. Holmes  to elaborate on  the stocks                                                               
and bonds she listed in her disclosure statement.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES advised the committee  that her great-grandmother left                                                               
her several stocks and bonds.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  noted both British  Petroleum and  Exxon were                                                               
in  the portfolio.  He  asked  her how  the  Select Committee  on                                                               
Legislative  Ethics would  evaluate  a legislator  with the  same                                                               
portfolio voting for a bill that was related to oil production.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES said she could not  say at this point. It would depend                                                               
on the rules and the amount owned.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:16:16 AM                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  whether  she thought  there  should  be  a                                                               
penalty for  anyone who knowingly and  intentionally violates the                                                               
ethics code.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES reported yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  whether  she thought  there  should  be  a                                                               
penalty for  anyone who knowingly and  intentionally violates the                                                               
ethics  code  even if  that  person  is  the  one who  filed  the                                                               
complaint.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES admitted she was new  to the issue and was hesitant to                                                               
make a judgment without having heard the entire complaint.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether dismissing the complaint  would be a                                                               
meaningful penalty.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES  said she thinks so  given the way the  law is written                                                               
currently and the  points brought up by Mr. Dennis  Cook. At this                                                               
point   it   is  unclear   as   to   what  the   term   "breaking                                                               
confidentiality" means.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether she  would feel more comfortably with                                                               
the  law  if it  were  written,  "...knowingly and  intentionally                                                               
publicly disclosing or causing to be publicly disclosed..."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES said yes.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:19:53 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  THERRIAULT asked  whether she  was currently  practicing                                                               
law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES  said no. However, she  is still a licensed  member of                                                               
the Alaska Bar.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked the reason  she was no longer practicing                                                               
law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLMES said she was  offered an opportunity with Rise Alaska,                                                               
which is  a project management  and consulting company  that runs                                                               
contracts.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:21:39 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS announced the conclusion of the interview.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation Hearing: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics -                                                                 
Herman G. Walker, Jr.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                              
Confirmation Hearing:  Select Committee  on Legislative  Ethics -                                                           
Herman G. Walker, Jr.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:22:17 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR   RALPH   SEEKINS   announced  the   next   candidate   for                                                               
confirmation. He  asked Mr.  Herman Walker, Jr.  to give  a brief                                                               
description of his background and  the reason he desires to serve                                                               
on the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HERMAN   WALKER,  JR.  testified   he  graduated   from  the                                                               
University  of  Wyoming and  had  heard  wonderful stories  about                                                               
Alaska from  his roommate. He  moved here  with his wife  in 1992                                                               
and  started  working as  an  intern  for  the Office  of  Public                                                               
Advocacy.  Following  that  job  he went  into  private  practice                                                               
working as  an associate with  Rex Butler doing  criminal defense                                                               
trial work.  Following that job  he went  to work for  the Public                                                               
Defender Agency. He  currently owns The Body Shop  located at the                                                               
 th                                                                                                                             
5   Avenue mall. He  is also working with  his wife in  their own                                                               
firm.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:24:09 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  asked Mr. Walker to describe  the type of                                                               
law he currently practices.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALKER explained  he is  a trial  attorney and  is currently                                                               
doing personal  injury work,  tort litigation,  criminal defense,                                                               
and business litigation.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HOLLIS FRENCH  advised  for  the record  that  he was  a                                                               
prosecuting attorney during  the same time that Mr.  Walker was a                                                               
public defender.  They have settled  many cases out of  court and                                                               
they also see each other socially on occasion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  the  amount  of time  he  has  been on  the                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER said since 2001.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Mr. Walker  whether the statute was  easy to                                                               
follow.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER said no. It is quite complex.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:26:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  him whether he was comfortable  with the way                                                               
the statute reads in regards to confidentiality.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALKER  related  the  statute  was written  with  a  lot  of                                                               
ambiguity as far  as disclosing. He would be  more comfortable if                                                               
the definition of "public disclosure" were more clearly defined.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked whether  he would  feel more  comfortable if                                                               
the  statute   read  "...knowingly  and   intentionally  publicly                                                               
disclosed or caused to be publicly disclosed..."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALKER  responded  the  definition  of  "public  disclosure"                                                               
should be put in the statutes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:28:49 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  referred to  an interview  in the  Anchorage Daily                                                               
News  in January  2005,  which  had to  do  with the  Legislature                                                               
reappointing  members  of  the Select  Committee  on  Legislative                                                               
Ethics. In the  article the columnist speculated  that Mr. Walker                                                               
could be  voted down  in retribution for  a certain  opinion. The                                                               
columnist  quoted  Mr. Walker  responded  to  the speculation  by                                                               
saying,  "It  does not  surprise  me."  He  asked Mr.  Walker  to                                                               
explain his comment.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER  said the comment was  based on his experience  with a                                                               
Committee member  who came  out against  the Legislature  and was                                                               
then removed.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr.  Walker whether  his  comment might  be                                                               
disruptive to his work on the Committee.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER  said no.  His follow-up  to the  comment was  that he                                                               
would encourage anybody to accept a job with the Committee.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:32:50 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS speculated that Mr. Walker was biased.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER maintained he is not biased.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  said there  was concern  that Mr.  Walker believed                                                               
that  the Legislature  would remove  someone through  retribution                                                               
for voting one way or another on an issue.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER disagreed.  He said his quote in the  newspaper was in                                                               
response  to observing  what  happened  to another  long-standing                                                               
Committee  member. The  action of  the Legislature  (removing the                                                               
one member) took every member of the Committee by surprise.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:35:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he personally  called Chief Justice  Fabe and                                                               
explained  the  reason the  Legislature  voted  not to  reconfirm                                                               
Shirley McCoy.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER said  his work on the Committee proves  that he has no                                                               
bias or agenda.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS stated for the record  he believes Mr. Walker to be                                                               
very fair.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  echoed  that  sentiment   and  said  it  is  his                                                               
observation  that  Mr.  Walker,  who  has  recently  chaired  the                                                               
Committee, is strictly unbiased.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:37:17 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS  asked  Mr. Walker  to  explain what  he                                                               
meant by the newspaper quote, "It does not surprise me."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER  reiterated his earlier testimony.  Further, he stated                                                               
that he is neither republican nor democratic.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:40:01 AM                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  SEEKINS advised  Mr. Walker  that part  of the  reason the                                                               
Legislature voted  not to reconfirm  Ms. McCoy was due  to public                                                               
comments she made about members of the Legislature to the press.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER said his personal  history proves that he becomes more                                                               
tactful with age.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Mr. Walker  his interpretation of the mission                                                               
of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALKER   said  the  statute  details   everything  they  do,                                                               
including  advisory  opinions   and  investigations  into  ethics                                                               
complaints.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:43:16 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR FRENCH moved to forward  the names of Dennis "Skip" Cook,                                                               
Lindsey  Holmes,  and  Herman  G.   Walker,  Jr.  to  the  Senate                                                               
President   for  consideration   during  a   joint  session   for                                                               
confirmations. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS   advised  the  candidates  that   the  motion  of                                                               
forwarding their names  to the Senate President  does not reflect                                                               
how each member would vote on the confirmation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:44:02 AM                                                                                                                 
SENATOR THERRIAULT  noted his  wife is involved  in the  same law                                                               
firm as Dennis "Skip" Cook.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 10:45:52 AM.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                

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