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Alaska Supreme Court

Leans Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

5 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

Non Partisan

Location(s): 
Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau
Caseload: 

400

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LISTEN NOWThe Freedom Files Podcast Episode 46: Project Arizona Part 3Listen Here
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Summary Judgement Revoked in Property Takings Case

Fri, 09/12/2014

Briggs v. City of Palmer: Briggs, owner of property near the Palmer Municipal Airport brought an inverse condemnation claim against the City of Palmer. Briggs argues that the airport operations seriously diminish the value of his property, and thus seeks just compensation. The superior court issued summary judgement in favor of Palmer, due to lack of expert testimony from Briggs demonstrating damages to property value. Briggs appealed this ruling and the State Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Decision

Supreme Court reversed the superior court decision to grant summary judgement; Alaska law allows for property owners to testify about their property’s value before and after taking.

Read the full decision here
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Flawed Emotional Evidence Leads to Remanding

Fri, 06/20/2014

Pouzanova v. Morton: In 2008 Pouzanova drove through a stop sign and ran into Morton’s car resulting in Morton suffering from back and neck pain. Morton sued Pouzanova for compensation for lost wages, medical fees, treatment, and other non-economic and punitive damages. In court, testimony about Morton’s home life was used including information about domestic violence which led to the possibility of Morton’s husband being added to the case as a third party defendant. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds of the validity of the testimony involved.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Alaska agreed with the lower courts that the case needed to be remanded. The claims that some of Morton’s injuries and unhappiness were a result of her home life versus the injuries caused by Pouzanova need to be re-examined and some of the evidence excluded.

Read the full decision here
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Equal Protection Under Law to Receive Benefits Upheld

Fri, 04/25/2014

Alaska v. Schmidt: In Anchorage a citizen who is a senior or a disabled veteran is given exemption from a portion of their property tax, however, this benefit can be cancelled if a resident resides on the property that is not a spouse. Upon the cancellation of their exemptions, three homosexual couples filed suit against the municipality on the grounds that their right to equal protection and equal opportunities was violated.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Alaska ruled in favor of the couples stating that since Alaskan law does not recognize same-sex marriage, the property tax exemption is never attainable by same-sex couple; therefore the law treats these individuals unfairly. As a result, the Court annulled the exemption program’s rule of cancellation due to resident status. Through this decision the court upheld equal protection under the law and equal opportunity.

Read the full decision here
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Business Required to Pay Income Tax on Foreign Profits

Fri, 10/25/2013

Tesoro Corporation v. Alaska Department of Revenue: Tesoro filed suit against the amount of income tax that the Department of Revenue demanded on the basis that the state was factoring in earnings that Tesoro brought in from their out-of-state and out-of-country branches. Tesoro based its suit in the Revenue’s violation of Due Process and Interstate Commerce Clauses of the Constitution.

Decision

The Supreme Court of Alaska upheld the decision of the lower courts, ruling against Tesoro on the basis that Tesoro is a unitary business and thus has to pay income tax on ALL its earnings. As a result, the Court dismissed Tesoro’s challenge to the tax amount and the unconstitutionality of the demands from the Department of Revenue.

Read the full decision here