- Associated Press - Friday, May 9, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A commission that oversees the conduct of state judges is recommending a 45-day suspension without pay for a Palmer judge.

The Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended to the Alaska Supreme Court the suspension of William Estelle for signing affidavits claiming payments for cases that had not been decided in a timely manner, the Anchorage Daily News reported (https://is.gd/S5kVIh).

Judges are required to decide or complete cases within six months, and twice monthly sign affidavits affirming that no cases before him “has been uncompleted or undecided by me for a period of more than six months.”

“It’s a fairly serious legal document,” said Marla Greenstein, the commission’s executive director.

However, the commission says Estelle took more than six months to complete three cases between 2011 and 2013. In two of those cases, he prematurely collected payment.

Estelle reported the incorrect payments to the commission. The filed its complaint against Estelle in August 2013 and held a formal disciplinary hearing in mid-April.

Staff members for the Alaska Supreme Court are now making a transcript of that hearing. After it’s completed, Estelle has 30 days to file a response to the recommendation.

The commission said Estelle was remorseful for his actions and has since taken steps to improve his paperwork habits, such as requiring weekly reports of his cases to be sent by email and involving his judicial assistant more closely in case management.

Estelle has “excellent character and an excellent reputation in certain respects,” the commission wrote in its recommendation.

“He is precise and thorough in his work and has a good legal mind, but he does not have a good reputation as an administrator,” the filing said.

It’s not the first time he has been admonished for untimely filing of paperwork. In 2004, a year after he was appointed to the Palmer District Court judgeship, he was fined for failing to file his Alaska Public Offices Commission report in a timely manner.


Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.adn.com

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