American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 49, Issue 3 (2013)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


Under the leadership of Chief Justice Dana Fabe, the Alaska judiciary has posted a new fairness pledge in courthouses throughout the state. Fabe announced the pledge in her January State of the Judiciary address to the Alaska Legislature. She began by discussing the public’s expectation of fairness in court, and she continued by contrasting a typical courthouse with a typical hospital:

[I]f you go into a hospital lobby, you will often notice a sign containing a clear statement of your rights as a patient: that you are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and to have your questions answered. Alaskans who come to court should have the same assurances. So today, I announce a pledge to each litigant, defendant, victim, witness, juror, or other person who is involved in a court proceeding: The judge and court staff will listen to you, treat you with respect, and respond to your questions. We will post this pledge in every courthouse in the state.

It may seem simple and obvious, but it is our belief that this pledge of fairness, consistently offered and openly displayed, will go a long way to remind everyone in our courthouses that ensuring fairness is an active process, for which there are no short cuts. Courtrooms must be places that foster understanding and respect for our laws, for the people affected by them, and for the judges who endeavor to uphold them. They must be places that help bring a sense of clarity, community connection, and confidence that justice will be served. It is within this spirit that we reaffirm to the people of Alaska that listening, respecting, and explaining are the hallmarks of what justice requires.