Judge James Fitzgerald was interviewed on September 16, 2005 by Margaret Russell in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, he talks about working cases in his early years in Ketchikan and Juneau, relationship between local police and the US Attorney’s office, mental health cases and Morningside Hospital, local, state and federal jurisdictions, conflict over fish traps, police coverage around the state, enforcement of liquor laws, setting up the state’s court system and receiving judge training, the Court-Bar fight and state Bar Association issues, getting appointed and serving as a judge, and notable cases he handled. Judge Fitzgerald was also interviewed by Margaret Russell on June 3, 2005 (tape number Oral History 2012-02-09) and November 18, 2005 (tape number Oral History 2012-02-11) in Anchorage, Alaska.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Judges of Alaska
Date of Interview: Sep 16, 2005
Narrator(s): Judge James Fitzgerald
Interviewer(s): Margaret Russell
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Story about case in Juneau where woman was found guilty of drowning her children
Return of the woman from prison to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage, Alaska
Woman meeting the surviving daughter
Charging the husband with neglect
Colleagues worked with in Southeast Alaska: Floyd Davidson
Colleagues worked with in Southeast Alaska: Bob Ziegler
Polio epidemic in Ketchikan
Meeting Billie Holiday at a nightclub in Anchorage, Alaska
Working as city attorney in Anchorage, Alaska
Public utility districts in Anchorage and law enforcement
Early animal control regulations in Anchorage
Plans to go into private practice
Establishment of the State Supreme Court
Being the State Commissioner of Public Safety
Establishing state law enforcement in rural Alaska
Conditions for state troopers and prisoners in rural Alaska
Control over liquor laws in Alaska
His replacement as Commissioner of Public Safety
Being appointed as a judge and previous judicial experience
Establishing family court and the state probation system
Neil Mackay case and battle between the State Supreme Court and the Bar Association
Locating the state capital in Juneau and the proposed capital move
Determining representation on the Superior Court
Raising a family
Investigating his first case which was in Klawock, Alaska
Investigating the Cowboy Butler case
Differences of being on the bench in Anchorage
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MS. RUSSELL: -- 16th, 2005. Judge James Fitzgerald, a United States District Court senior judge, is with us for part 2 of his oral history.
Judge, the last time we were here, we talked about the woman in Juneau who threw her baby into the water, and you couldn't recall what happened.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: She threw two of them in.
MS. RUSSELL: Two children in. You couldn't recall at that time what happened or what you had charged them with.
And let's just go back to that for just a minute and catch up with that, and then I'll have one more question from that era.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, she was represented by Doogan and -- I -- I can't remember her -- exactly who the other attorney was.
And there was one doctor in Alaska at that time -- this was still territorial days -- who could evaluate mental capacity.
And at that time, under territorial law, the mental capacity was determined by the M'Naughten rule.
And so, anyway, Doogan and his fellow attorney had her examined, and the physician who examined her concluded that she met the requirements of the M'Naughten rule.
She knew the nature and quality of her acts and she knew that they were wrong.
So there wasn't any defense that he thought he could fashion.
So I had charged her with a -- killing both of those young girls.
One was a baby and one was about four or five years old, six maybe.
And she appeared before Judge Folta, Territorial Judge in the First District.
And he sentenced her to 20 years on each count, or 40 years, if I remember correctly, and I think I do.
And because of the lengthy sentence and nature of the crime, she was sent to Alderson, West Virginia,
which was a women's prison at that time and where I recall they sent the most serious offenders.
I heard nothing about it for a number of years.
I was appointed in 1959 by our first Governor, Governor Egan, to the Superior Court when the Superior Court was established.
And there was three of us who were appointed here in Anchorage. Ed Davis, Earl Cooper and myself.
Several years later, I had received -- I received a call from Bob Yandell.
Yandell was assistant district attorney, and he told me that he had received a case that I had prepared the charges for.
And I had known Bob Yandell since he became an assistant U.S. Attorney.
He had been a Marine -- he'd been in the Army in World War I and he'd been wounded in the battle of -- one of the serious battles, and he lost his lower leg.
And he also -- when World War II came along, he enlisted. And he managed to be enlisted in the Marines.
And they sent him around to various hospitals to talk to wounded servicemen.
And the loss of a part of his leg, the lower part of his leg, had in no way diminished his ambitions and his work effort.
He -- after he was discharged in World War I, he got married and then later on decided to go to law school, and he did graduate from law school.
And he was quite elderly when he came to Alaska.
And he had one time worked as court trustee and then he became a assistant district attorney.
And he was quite a compassionate man.
So he sent a -- part of the file that he had received over to me, and then I saw that it was this woman.
And I was completely taken aback, because the last I had known, she was serving time at Alderson, West Virginia.
And what had happened I subsequently found out, mostly through Bob Yandell, is at Alderson, West Virginia they became
concerned about her mental status, and they sent her, I think, to a mental hospital that was a mental hospital in Washington, D.C., for the federal government.
I think it was St. Elizabeth's. I may be wrong. It was quite a while ago. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Anyway, Alaska then had become a state, and the hospital, mental hospital in Washington decided that she had serious mental problems.
Well, at the time she appeared before Judge Folta, there was no mental hospital in the territory.
Mental patients, if they were found to be mental patients, were sent to Morningside, a mental hospital in Portland, Oregon.
And it had a contract I believe with the Department of the Interior to take mental patients from Alaska.
But prior to statehood, a few years, the federal government supported the building of a mental hospital in Alaska.
And Alaska Psychiatric Institute was then constructed in Anchorage.
The -- I was told by Yandell that the superintendent of St. Elizabeth had called the officer in charge of Alaska Psychiatric Institute
and reported to him that they had a -- an Alaskan patient back in St. Elizabeth's.
And since API was a mental hospital, that patient should be returned to Alaska.
Well, she was sent back out to Alaska, and she was at API.
Her oldest daughter, the one who -- when she saw her mother take the baby out of the baby carriage and throw her in off the dock in Juneau,
had also observed her mother throw in her younger sister, who was about five or six.
I don't remember the exact age.
And the oldest daughter had then ran off the dock and then later in the day went back to the apartment that they occupied in Juneau.
Her mother was there, and her mother explained it to her by saying that, if you weren't as old as you are, I would have thrown you in, too.
Well, I -- they had a juvenile program in the territory at that time, and she had been --
when her mother was charged and confined, she had been placed in the custody of foster parents by the juvenile facility -- program.
Prior to disposition on the case, I had determined to examine her,
and she was brought to the courthouse by a officer from the juvenile department and by one of her foster parents that were caring for her.
And then I questioned her, because I saw her as possibly a potential witness if the case went to trial.
She remembered everything very well.
When her mother was sent off to Alderson, West Virginia, this girl continued to live with the foster parents and ultimately she took their last name.
And when the years went by, she became a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
And she had a -- apparently some compelling figure -- compelling concerns about her possible guilt, and she came to Morningside .
Well, mother and daughter hadn't met each other for years and there'd been no communications, and she had a different last name.
And at API, they met and then after some time in talking between themselves found that they were mother and daughter.
And the mother than explained how she had done what she had done.
And it was in large part because of the fact that her husband, the cab driver, had failed to provide any support for them.
And they were in an older apartment in downtown Juneau.
She had -- on the morning that she had done what she did, had looked in the refrigerator or icebox, and there was no milk, there was no food.
The building was cold and she was desperate.
So she explained this to her -- the older daughter.
And later on when I talked to the superintendent out at API, he explained to me that the --
what was told her by her mother relieved her of any possible guilt concerns or anything else.
And she had been sent back to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks to continue school.
Well, I never wanted to ever find out anything again, so I never made any further inquiries.
MS. RUSSELL: Well, it sounds like the father was guilty of neglect as well. Whatever happened to him?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, I took him before the commissioners.
They used to call -- in territorial days they used to call -- what we now call magistrate judges, they used to call them commissioners.
And at that time I -- there were commissioners all over the territory and
none of them at that time, I believe, had ever -- had received any legal training.
And the commissioner in Juneau was -- I believe his name was Gordon Gray,
and he'd been commissioner there for a number of years and he was very highly thought of.
And he and his brother had, when their parents died, received the Juneau Hotel, an old hotel in Juneau.
And when -- the first time I ever went to Juneau, I stayed at the Juneau Hotel.
And it was one of the old-fashioned Alaska hotels. The fire escape was a coiled rope tied to the radiator.
And there were no other means of fire escape and that sort of thing.
But anyway, I stayed there, and I got to know Gordon Gray really well. And he was very conscientious.
And when this cab driver appeared before him, I examined him on whether he'd been home the night before, and he hadn't, and what kind of support he provided for his children and his wife.
And he was very evasive about that.
And he finally decided that he would plead guilty,
and I think at that time Gordon Gray gave him six months, which was the maximum a commissioner could impose.
And I never knew anything that happened after that to him either.
And the last I knew is Judge Ralph Moody had taken the petition that had been filed on behalf of this woman,
and in the course of it, Bob Yandell furnished a great deal information about what had happened and the rest of it.
And Moody, if I remember right, did find that she was mentally impaired and ordered her confined to Alaska Psychiatric Institute.
But she was not after that, to my knowledge, ever confined to any correctional institute.
And I never wanted to inquire any further, because I thought --
I really did think that result was the best possible result that could have ever happened
and I wanted to leave it that way, and I have.
MS. RUSSELL: There were a couple of people that you might have known and worked with in Southeast
that I don't think you have talked about in prior interviews, and I just wanted to give you a chance to if you wanted to before we moved on to your Anchorage experiences.
One is Floyd Davidson. Did you have any connections with him? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Who?
MS. RUSSELL: Floyd Davidson?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yes. He was an attorney in Ketchikan. They weren't many attorneys down there.
MS. RUSSELL: Was he a criminal or civil?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: He took everything. The -- he came --
I think he came to Southeast after I had been down there as assistant U.S. Attorney there for some time.
And I'm trying to think -- the attorney who became city manager in Ketchikan.
When I first went there, the city manager had been a retired -- I think he had been a commodore in the Coast Guard, and he was very influential.
But when the police department in Ketchikan came under investigation by the grand jury upon order of --
MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh. Yeah.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- Judge Folta, the city manager, who was this Coast Guard commander, I think he was,
he resigned, and a lawyer was appointed to that position.
MS. RUSSELL: And you think that was Mr. Davidson?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I kind of have a feeling that -- I can kind of see him but -- MS. RUSSELL: Well -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: I don't think it lasted very long.
MS. RUSSELL: What about Bob Ziegler? Did you have any connections with him?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I knew -- he came there later on. When I first came to Ketchikan, it was Ziegler and King, two old- timers.
And then Chuck Cloudy, he joined and it was Ziegler, King and Cloudy.
And then Bob Ziegler finished law school and he came back up.
And King was an old, old man. He retired.
And the firm became Ziegler, Ziegler and Cloudy and was that for many years. MS. RUSSELL: Many years, okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And because -- Bob Ziegler ran for the legislature and was elected in Ketchikan.
And he served in the legislature several times.
And he was -- as an attorney was very, very active in Ketchikan. MS. RUSSELL: And what --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: As was Cloudy. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Cloudy, I just talked to the other day. He's left Ketchikan now and he's down at Whidbey Island, he and his wife.
They've left Alaska now.
MS. RUSSELL: One last item in Ketchikan. Were you there when there was a polio epidemic?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, there was. I'd been in Ketchikan probably, oh, six or eight months, and a polio epidemic started.
They only had a few doctors in Ketchikan.
But the -- it was diagnosed as polio, and the -- at that time they hadn't --
finally approved the Salk program, if I remember right.
And so a number of those who resided in Ketchikan got polio and they sent these breathing machine, whatever, up there.
MS. RUSSELL: Iron lungs? I remember that. JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, iron lungs, and -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- whatever. And it was -- I remember I -- Folta would not suspend court.
And we had a tough time getting a jury or two there during that epidemic.
And it finally died away. But there was an assistant U.S. Attorney in Juneau,
and he had -- he came down to Ketchikan and he was subsequently a victim of polio.
And they sent him to this hospital in Seattle that had federal patients and whatever.
And he was paralyzed, his legs were paralyzed.
And he never recovered -- he came back.
Well, the department -- he had so many months of leave, sick leave, in the Department of Justice, and they terminated him.
When he came back he protested it; it came to the attention of the Department of Commerce, if I remember right, and they notified the Department of Justice that they had to re-employ him.
And he was re-employed. I think he and his wife separated in Juneau and he later on went back to the --
a U.S. Attorney -- the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York State.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember his name?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I could -- MS. RUSSELL: It's okay if you don't.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: All I could -- I could find out all these names by looking in a -- the book that was published that reported the opinions at that time.
On the front of it had everybody, the judges and everybody -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh. JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- in the Marshal's Office and everybody in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
And I could look at that and tell you.
MS. RUSSELL: Yeah. Now, when you had prior interviews, it seemed like your time as a district attorney --
United States district attorney in Anchorage, which was about a four-year period, was covered very well,
so I'm not going to ask you questions about that. JUDGE FITZGERALD: Okay.
MS. RUSSELL: The only thing that came up that I think you've never talked about is the time that you saw Billie Holiday? Do you remember seeing Billie -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah -- MS. RUSSELL: -- Holiday, the famous -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- I did. MS. RUSSELL: -- singer?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: There were -- the bars in Anchorage were a bit more open, the operating and so forth, in those days, because they --
the municipality was -- ran the bars and the liquor stores and the --
and so there were a number of well-known entertainers that came up here that --
in the U.S. Attorney's Office with me was a gentleman by the name of Cliff Groh. We were close friends.
And he heard that one of the bars just on the edge of town -- I don't think it was in town at that time -- Billie Holiday was coming.
And so after she got here, he and I decided to go out to that bar. And we went out there and we had a few drinks,
as we always did in those days, and they were sold out,
that's what they told us when we went in. And they had no place for us.
Well, it turned out that I had checked the territorial law, and the territorial law at that time provided that
any time during operating hours a U.S. Attorney or an assistant or a Marshal or a deputy appeared at the bar, they had to give you admission.
So I asked for the manager and finally the manager came out.
And I told him that he would be in trouble if we were not allowed into the bar, because of this territorial law.
So he said, well, it would take us a little -- a few minutes and he'd have a place for us.
But what he did was, he had a table brought in from someplace and a couple chairs, and we were seated right next to Billie Holiday.
And she was very, very popular with the people there, and they were buying -- they were -- on her table were a number of drinks.
And she was -- she had a few.
And came time for her -- the entertainment to start and she was -- she went up to the front where the microphone was.
And I'll always remember when she started, she couldn't hardly carry a tune.
And she was hanging onto the microphone -- stand of the microphone, and in a few minutes, however, all came back and her voice was beautiful.
And she was able to sing, and she sang there for quite a while.
And I always remember because -- she started out so ragged and then became -- her voice became so beautiful.
And later on, she returned back to New York State. She traveled quite a bit.
But she returned back to New York State. I think she had some problems there.
But anyway, I've never forgot. I can see her today.
MS. RUSSELL: You were very lucky.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And -- and there was a guy -- and he had a small band, and he was at that club one time, and we went out to see him.
And he had played at the club, and the next thing we knew, we met him, and he told us he only had a couple more days there
and he was due to travel to Europe, he was going to perform in Paris.
And I guess that's what he did. But they had some outstanding entertainers at that place in those days -- MS. RUSSELL: Well -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- that came to Alaska.
MS. RUSSELL: From 1956 to '59, you were the city attorney.
Were you a prosecutor or did you do civil work for the city?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Both.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. What was the city like? How big was it?
What was the economic base for it and what do you recall about the city in those days when you first -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: In those days -- MS. RUSSELL: -- .came here?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, when I first came to Anchorage, I was in the U.S. Attorney's Office -- MS. RUSSELL: Oh, I'm sorry. JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- for about two years.
And at that time the city did not have a permanent city attorney.
And the city attorney was represented by a law firm of Hellenthal and Cottis.
Later on, they decided -- the city council decided -- and the city manager was George Shannon, and he strongly supported it,
that they would have a permanent city attorney. And the first city attorney was John Rader.
And John later on became the first Attorney General after -- when Alaska became a state.
But he was city attorney and he still resides here in Anchorage.
And he was a very, very able city attorney.
And then, subsequently, he joined a law firm.
There was a guy by the name of Gordon Hartlieb, and then Cliff Groh would have been in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He left the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the law firm became Hartlieb, Groh and Rader.
And he -- they were a very effective law firm for a long time.
And Groh is dead now and so is Hartlieb. But Hartlieb was the guy who started First Federal Savings and Loan.
And he became very active with the bank now that's Wells Fargo, but at that time it was National Bank.
MS. RUSSELL: There was a borough here at the time, Greater Anchorage Area Borough.
Did they have their own law department, and how did that work between the city and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough?
Was there any conflicts there or did you have any involvement in that?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, they had public -- you didn't call them boroughs at that time, were public utility districts, and they had like -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Mountain View was a public utility district. Spenard was a public utility district.
East Chester was a -- had a public utility district and they had them all.
And the ones outside of the city, so like East Chester Flats, had no effective law enforcement whatsoever.
They could call upon the territorial police, but mostly the territorial police did highway patrols in those days.
They were -- there weren't hardly any available.
And like East Chester Flats was -- it ran all night.
And on the -- night after night, and everything went on down there.
I mean, I say everything, but it -- there was a lot of law violations going on, and it was notorious.
And -- but the -- later on, the Marshal had a new officer come in by the name of Williams. And I think his name -- and his chief deputy was Chenowith.
And Chenowith had been a law enforcement officer and he was very, very conscientious.
MS. RUSSELL: They were employed by the City of Anchorage? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Huh?
MS. RUSSELL: They were employed by the municipality?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No, they were employed -- deputy marshals.
We had a new Marshal and he started employing new deputies. And --
MS. RUSSELL: So what was the government authority for the Marshal? I mean --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: They had -- they'd get -- they would get most of -- whatever the law --
Well, the FBI did some. They had an office here.
MS. RUSSELL: Oh, these -- this was a U.S. marshal you're talking about? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yes. MS. RUSSELL: I'm sorry, okay. Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And up until the territory, they -- in these utility districts and everything outside of Anchorage, the U.S. Marshal had responsibility.
And you had a -- the U.S. Marshal here, for instance, had a marshal -- deputy marshal in Kodiak,
and he had -- the whole, entire Aleutian Chain was subject to -- I mean --
It was very difficult for them, and Chenowith has written a book, and he sent me a copy.
It's been published. And I want to get the Trooper Museum here to get a number of copies of Chenowith's book.
And he's retired and he lives in New Hampshire.
MS. RUSSELL: Do the -- how many -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: He was a tremendous officer.
MS. RUSSELL: How many lawyers did you have for the municipality and how many -- how -- what was your territory in that day --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well -- MS. RUSSELL: -- that you --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- when I became city attorney, I was the -- MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- law office. Then they authorized an assistant.
And I hired a guy by the name of Williams. And the two of us were the city attorney's office for as long as I remained in it.
And when I resigned, they hired a new city attorney.
MS. RUSSELL: One more thing I wanted to ask you about before we left the city attorney's office, unless there's something else you wanted to add --
I understand that there was someone named Shannon who was the city manager at that time?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: There was, and he was very effective --
MS. RUSSELL: He didn't like -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- very effective.
MS. RUSSELL: He didn't like dogs, though, right? I under -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Huh?
MS. RUSSELL: I understand he didn't like the wild dogs that were running in town. Did --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No. MS. RUSSELL: Yeah.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: He'd got an Animal Control -- he got some people in the Animal Control, and they --
the loose dogs -- they had several dog packs -- teams in town, and I remember a team that had to move out and they moved just the other side of Muldoon, and there was a child that was killed by a team.
There was a lot of bad dogs around. We lived for a while in Nunaka Valley and there were wild -- we called them wild dogs.
And I remember the -- on the school grounds or -- out in Mountain View, one --
Mountain View School, one side of the road the street was city and the other side was in the utility district.
And I remember the guy who ran the program for catching the dogs came in to see me one time,
and he said that the principal and a couple of the male teachers out at Mountain View had called him up,
and he'd gone out and parked his truck on the city side, and they chased the dogs off of the school ground and he caught them.
And he wondered if that was a -- some sort of violation. I told him no.
Just as long -- he could cooperate if he wanted. And he did.
But there were -- and there was a lot of bad dogs around in those days.
And some kids were bitten by dogs. And I remember the military post out here, they had a dog regulation.
When I was in the U.S. Attorney's Office, a dog had bit a kid out on the Post in the face.
And the -- a JAG officer came in to see me,
and I agreed to charge the owners of the dog and did charge the owners, so the dog -- and they -- that dog was finally executed.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you recall at one time ever intervening on behalf of any dogs that were in Shannon's sight?
Your wife Karin had a recollection about something like that. JUDGE FITZGERALD: Who?
MS. RUSSELL: I said your wife Karin remembered something about some dogs that Shannon was after that you intervened on their behalf, but --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No. MS. RUSSELL: You don't recall that?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Excuse me. We lived in -- our first winter we lived up here, we lived in Nunaka Valley.
And Nunaka Valley was not in the city.
And they had wild dog packs out there. And they were really kind of dangerous.
And I'll tell you this, but I'm not sure I want it published. But what happened was,
I drove in from Nunaka Valley in wintertime every morning.
And I would bait the back of my rear seat of my car, and sometimes in the morning I would find a dog or two in the back seat,
and I'd slam the door and I'd drive in town. And City Hall is, you know, down there on Fourth Avenue,
what used to be City Hall.
And I remember I'd stop right across the street from City Hall. It was easy to park. Let the dogs out, right in front of Shannon's office.
I was an assistant U.S. attorney at the time. I don't think he ever realized that.
But he was really determined to control the dogs. And he'd get -- excuse me --
MS. RUSSELL: Want a break, ok?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I'm going to drink some water. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
MS. RUSSELL: How is this?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: If you could just maybe --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Do you want me to face you?
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: No, that's okay. If you could just scoot back a little bit.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I can (indiscernible).
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: There we go. MS. RUSSELL: There. Okay. UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: That's good. MS. RUSSELL: All right. JUDGE FITZGERALD: All right.
MS. RUSSELL: Judge, the -- as I mentioned to you earlier, Claus Naske's interview, the Ninth Circuit oral historian, covered your year --
months, I guess, from April to September of 1959 as Special Counsel to Governor Egan,
and so I am going to pass over that area and refer our listeners to the Claus Naske interview for that period of your career.
You delayed plans to enter private practice in Fairbanks about that time, is that correct, in order to --
was it in order to take -- you had some plans to practice up north, didn't you -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well -- MS. RUSSELL: -- at some point.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: -- I had an offer -- when I was first in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Juneau -- in Ketchikan and Juneau --
Ed Merdes was assistant U.S. attorney in Juneau, and we got to be good friends.
And I had to go up in Juneau and help out once in a while.
And so he left Juneau and he opened a law office in Fairbanks.
And he became a partner with an old- timer by the name of McNealy.
And then there was a attorney that came up to Alaska when I was assistant U.S. attorney, and his name was Henry Camarot.
And so Camarot was in Juneau quite a while, and then he also went to Fairbanks.
And they had a firm up there. It was McNealy, Merdes, and Camarot.
And they were expanding, so they offered me a position.
It was going to become McNealy, Merdes, Camarot and Fitzgerald.
And they even put my name on the door in Fairbanks.
But I had the reservation, and I said that I would file when they decided on --
and the Governor decided on establishing a Superior Court, I would file for the position of Superior Court.
And I had no commitment from the Governor or anybody else, but I would apply.
So what happened is, he -- when -- on the injunction that was taken concerning this fish trap case
from Judge Kelly's decision in Juneau, Brennan issued an injunction and prohibited the state from precluding the use of fish -- Native fish traps.
And he continued issuing permits. So Egan then was listening to probably John Rader,
and he decided to establish the State Supreme Court, and he established the State Supreme Court.
The Chief Judge was Nesbett -- it was Nesbett, Dimond, and the -- I mean Hodge.
Then they heard the fish trap case on appeal, and I think it was remanded originally from the Supreme Court to the State Supreme Court.
And Nesbett wrote the opinion, and he sustained the prohibition, the ordinance that barred the use of fish traps in Alaska.
And he wrote it and it was published.
That -- the case then went back to the United States Supreme Court and that's when Frankfurter wrote the decision.
And he decided that the fish trap ordinance was valid and it barred the use of all fish traps in Alaskan waters.
And so that case was titled Kake and Angoon versus Egan.
And the -- and they did not decide Metlakatla, because Metlakatla had been determined to be a reservation.
But it was said to be established by Congress, and therefore only Congress could pass regulations or
statutes that would in fact -- would effect Metlakatla.
And it continued to be the reservation in Alaska.
The others -- and cases that were ultimately decided, and the one the --
finally in the Venetie case by Judge Thomas, for a unanimous court, he held that these co-ops that had been established under the state in --
the Native regional and village co-ops -- were subject to state regulation, and that Venetie could not declare itself to be independent.
And that was a major, major decision in Alaska.
MS. RUSSELL: It deprived them of the sovereignty of -- have an Indian tribe, is that correct? It deprived them of the sovereignty that an Indian tribe would have in Indian Country, is that --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, right. MS. RUSSELL: -- basically what happened?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: What was dealing with -- terms used like "Indian Country" and all the rest,
but it was held that in that case, Venetie, that corporations were subject to state regulation.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you ever go into private practice, by the way? JUDGE FITZGERALD: No.
MS. RUSSELL: You never did. The next area I'd like to cover is when you were Commissioner of Public Safety. Now, if I understand, you went from Special Counsel to Governor Egan for four months in 1959,
and then in September of '59 you were appointed the Commissioner of Public Safety by Governor Egan, and you were just there until -- for about six months, until --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right. MS. RUSSELL: Yeah, the beginning of the next year.
You knew at that time that it would be pretty temporary, did you, when you went into it?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, he called me in and wanted me to take it.
Well, he -- most of the state agencies had been established, but the Department of Public Safety had not been established, and he really wanted to establish it.
And he called me in and told me he wanted to appoint me Commissioner.
And I told him that I would not -- I was going to continue in the law.
And I would become Commissioner and put in the changes that had to be put in.
And I did that, but when the Superior Court was then established, I put in an application --
there were a lot of applications in, and I didn't know until -- in fact, the morning that they were announced,
I didn't know that I'd been appointed. And the Juneau Empire called me up, and that's the first I knew, is from the Juneau Empire.
I hadn't been told.
MS. RUSSELL: When you talked about the -- establishing the Commission of Public Safety,
what did you have to do to organize it, and how did you -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well --
MS. RUSSELL: Was it mostly a rural issue for you or --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah. In territorial days, when the Highway Patrol -- they had the territorial police, and then the Highway Patrol on --
but they were pretty much restricted to the highway outside of the towns.
And they wrote up highway tickets and so forth, and they were not exercising general criminal jurisdiction.
That would be -- still being continued by the Marshal's Office.
MS. RUSSELL: This was after we were a state, correct?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well --
MS. RUSSELL: Shortly.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Congress had authorized -- well, the state was organizing, but what happened is that the President had signed the order creating the State of Alaska.
Congress had authorized it, but Eisenhower was President and Eisenhower had to authorize it.
And when he did, the state then could assume the powers of a state.
Prior to that time there were federal agencies that continued to exercise jurisdiction in Alaska, and it was a conflict.
Primarily, the conflict over the fish traps and which the Secretary of Interior continued to issue permits for Native fish traps in Alaska.
That was really conflicting with state law.
I -- at the time the Constitution was voted on, there were three ordinances, and those ordinances were voted on separately.
And one was the ordinance barring the fish traps.
Another was an ordinance which established a state school system throughout the state and villages everywhere.
And I'm not sure what the third one was.
But all three of them passed.
And there were conflicts with the federal government.
There were agencies back in Washington that were very cooperative with the state,
and there were agencies that blocked any assumption of power that would affect their powers by the state.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you have run-in with the federal marshals and so forth when you trying to establish --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No.
MS. RUSSELL: -- state jurisdiction in the rural areas?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: They -- the Marshal's Office had really done their level best, but they just -- there were not enough marshals in Alaska to provide policing out in the villages and so forth.
They just couldn't do it.
And like we had that one marshal in Kodiak whose jurisdiction extended all the way down the Aleutian Chain.
MS. RUSSELL: One marshal. JUDGE FITZGERALD: One deputy.
MS. RUSSELL: So did the state then begin to provide state troopers for those areas?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, they -- the state troopers were given jurisdiction,
and they assumed it, and in addition, a few -- there was the -- a small expansion in the state troopers.
It was before the days of big oil and all of the rest of that.
The state just didn't have the money.
And so I remember talking to Egan about trying to employ more troopers because we needed more.
And that was the first time then that VSPOs were talked about, village special police officers.
And they came under the jurisdiction of the state troopers.
MS. RUSSELL: Was that program established during your tenure?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: We talked about it. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: But there was -- the problem was -- big problem was the money problem.
And, you know, they had -- we had troopers in a few towns,
and I wanted to move the troopers, for instance, that were in -- some of them into town to a highway junction where they could be -- patrol a much broader area, like --
I talked to Judge Egan about -- or I -- Bill Egan about.
They had a trooper in Valdez, and I wanted to move him to --
up to Glennallen where he could -, because in Valdez, he's just -- it was a narrow or small area that he actually could enforce the laws in.
MS. RUSSELL: What about areas that had no road system? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Hmm?
MS. RUSSELL: What about the areas that had no road system? Bethel and Nome and -- what kind of trooper coverage did they have at that time?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, they -- we got a trooper in Nome, and then he went out to the Pribilofs.
And it was broad -- we had troopers that went to like -- a trooper at Barrow and whatever.
And they did a region. And I'd show up, find a trooper at Dillingham, and they would do a region.
But we needed more officers.
And when statehood came along and -- that helped some.
But what really helped was the revenues that began to come in when the oil patch was developed.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you go out to some of the remote posts?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Went all over.
MS. RUSSELL: What were they like at the time, in Kodiak, for example, or some of those outlying areas?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, I remember going out to one place, and they had this old house and it was over permafrost,
and water had melted in the basement, it was waist deep.
And, God, it was so bad.
I finally -- they had a -- the -- had the State Division of Highways and they had some extra housing,
and we managed to get them to allow us to have a house in a -- but some of them were really bad.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember what town that was that had the flooded basement?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh, where it was? It was up the highway toward Glennallen.
MS. RUSSELL: Oh, okay. So it was on the road system.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: It was on the road system, but, my God -- and the -- there was no place -- I remember talking to them.
I'd be -- I went to all the trooper -- I mean outposts they had, personally, I went to each one of them.
And I said -- there was no jail there, up there.
And I said, "Where the hell do you keep -- hold your prisoners when you arrest a guy, until you can transfer him?"
MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh. Where was this that you're talking about now?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Glennallen. MS. RUSSELL: Oh, okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And he said, "Well, I -- sit him in the front room, and I stay up with him all night."
I said, "How about your wife and kids?" And he said, "I put them in the bedroom. They stay there."
And, God, he finally -- I got a -- they -- Fish and Wildlife had some -- like trailers.
And I got them to let us have one, and we put a cell in it.
And we'd hire a guy in the village to -- in the town to be the night watchman or whatever.
But I remember -- I'll tell you this, but I don't want some of this stuff repeated.
I heard that the -- down in Kenai, that the trooper --
what happened, we used to have a deputy marshal, and the jail cell was on his back porch, and the bars were wood.
He made it. And his wife -- the kitchen is right next to the cell and she did the cooking and whatever.
And, well, we lost the cell, of course, and the Marshal's Office and all that when the State Troopers were established.
And then I heard that the local judge down there had authorized a trooper one night --
he was trying to make a connection up here with Anchorage and the driver -- guy -- have a trooper to leave Anchorage and come partway down to Kenai or Soldotna.
And they couldn't arrange it that night.
And so the trooper went to the local judge and the local judge gave him a warrant, and he put the guy down in a dry well.
And I heard about it, I couldn't believe it.
And when I went down there the next time, I asked this judge, I said, "You didn't authorize them to hold a prisoner down in a -- this dry well, did you?"
He said, "Where the hell else could we put him?" So they did.
MS. RUSSELL: That was in Kenai. What time of year was that, do you recall?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, it was --
MS. RUSSELL: What season?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: It was after -- after they -- well, it was after statehood and -- they had a Superior Court.
MS. RUSSELL: I mean what season of the year? Was it cold?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh, no, it was in -- if I remember right, it was in the late spring.
The trooper was never very apologetic about it. He told me, "Where the hell could I put him?"
He wasn't going to take him and put him in his house, like the guy did up the road.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you get involved in the court system too when you were the Commissioner at all?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No.
MS. RUSSELL: What was the liquor industry like in those days? Did -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: What was the what?
MS. RUSSELL: The liquor industry. Did you have involvement with that and the bars and the --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Some of it. What happened was they had -- they had the Liquor Control Board I think operated out of Juneau.
And it authorized -- I think they had one officer up here.
They didn't want any supervision by the state police whatsoever.
So they kind of -- they got -- they were able to hire three or four guys around the state,
and -- but the liquor board was going to run the liquor program, and they didn't want the State Troopers involved at all.
And for a while, they weren't.
MS. RUSSELL: So the liquor industry had its -- I mean the liquor board has it -- had its own enforcement officers?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, they had several of them. They had one here in Anchorage, I remember.
MS. RUSSELL: Were the bars about like they are now or were they wilder or --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh -- MS. RUSSELL: -- you indicated some areas of -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: The -- MS. RUSSELL: -- town were rough.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: In -- originally, when they had the public utility districts a lot of the bars outside of town, they operated 24 hours a day,
like down East Chester Flats and whatever.
Well, there was differences between the -- what the council wanted when they began to take over and what the liquor board would go for.
And the liquor board said, "We'll determine," and they did.
MS. RUSSELL: The bar hours.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh-huh.
MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh. So who replaced you then as Commissioner when you left?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: How many what?
MS. RUSSELL: Who replaced you, do you recall as Commissioner?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, Underwood, who was a former FBI agent. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And he had taken a job, he was -- when he left the FBI he became employed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks
and he was handling the -- all the problems that they had on campus.
And then -- but he was an FBI agent. And I talked to him, and he was willing to take the job, and Egan appointed him.
And he was a very, very good Commissioner.
MS. RUSSELL: And whatever happened to Chenowith? He was a marshal, right?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, Chenowith -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I wanted to hire him, and I needed another position. And --
MS. RUSSELL: And this was in Public Safety for the state?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah. And so what happened is there -- in the legislature there were several lawyers.
And they wanted to keep him out, and they went to Egan and objected when I asked Egan for the money to hire Chenowith.
And he couldn't be hired. There was no funds.
So he -- and the Marshal, of course, had lost all their jurisdiction, just about all of it.
And Chenowith then, when -- he joined the Treasury Department and he became a very important investigator in the IRS.
MS. RUSSELL: In Anchorage?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No, he was in Washington and -- MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: He had some very, very big cases.
MS. RUSSELL: You were -- mentioned earlier you were appointed to the Superior Court in 1959?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right.
MS. RUSSELL: And I believe you were there about 13 years, until 1972.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I think I was actually there to '73, but --
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. And you spoke in the Claus Naske interview that I referred to before about the trip to New Jersey for training that all the judges took. JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right.
MS. RUSSELL: It sounds like none of the initial Supreme Court judges -- I think there were eight, is that correct -- had judicial experience?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Eight Superior Court -- let me think. I don't think any of us -- I'm going through the --
MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I don't think any of us had judicial experience.
MS. RUSSELL: Did most lawyers in those days have trial experience? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Hmm?
MS. RUSSELL: Did most lawyers in those days have trial experience --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh, yeah.
MS. RUSSELL: -- no matter what area they were in?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh, sure. Because when I came to Anchorage, there was probably 20-some attorneys.
And that's Anchorage, the population was probably about 32,000.
And when statehood came, a lot of young guys began to come to Alaska and we had a very young Bar.
The Bar in Anchorage just exploded.
MS. RUSSELL: After the state -- after statehood?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh-huh.
MS. RUSSELL: I understand that you got involved in establishing the Family Courts while you were --
you were presiding judge for the last several years, weren't you?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right.
MS. RUSSELL: And did you get involved at that time in proposing a Family Court -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh-huh.
MS. RUSSELL: -- similar to what we have now?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, I did.
MS. RUSSELL: And what about the probation system? Were you involved in that?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Not very much, actually. That had started before statehood.
And when the state took over the Corrections, the Corrections had the probation officers.
Then -- but the feds always had -- federal courts have always supervised Probation.
But originally in the state, the Corrections Department pretty much controlled the Probation.
We had a -- I can remember when I was in Superior Court, we had several of them.
They -- it was -- the state didn't have -- the state had to rely on the federal jails and what -- city jail.
Later on, the state did build correction facilities.
MS. RUSSELL: But was that during your tenure or afterward? JUDGE FITZGERALD: What's that?
MS. RUSSELL: Was that after 1979, after you left the bench, by the -- before the state had its own correctional facilities?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No, they were starting. MS. RUSSELL: Were starting.
Now, I had also understood that you got involved somewhat, at least, in the appellate review of criminal sentences and the --
you know, requiring findings before the judge handed down a sentence.
Was there any controversy about that?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, I think there was a lot of opposition among the trial judges when the federal -- when Congress adopted the federal guidelines.
Because the federal guidelines -- it's a book.
And that really took away a lot of judicial independence.
And I remember I felt like quite a few of the -- there were a lot of district judges that were opposed to the guidelines.
And I felt, well, we'll give it a chance.
The federal guidelines now have been -- in a recent decision by the Supreme Court has --
has been moderated by state judges and federal judges have a -- more discretion now than they did when the guidelines were first established.
MS. RUSSELL: Has the state ever had anything equivalent to that, or did they when you were a Superior Court judge?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I don't really -- I think the first I had any experience with was the federal guidelines.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. I'd like to ask a little bit about some of the significant cases or maybe the more memorable cases that you worked on as a -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh-huh.
MS. RUSSELL: -- as a Superior Court judge. Did you get involved in the Mackay case?
I vaguely know a little bit about that. But the Neil Mackay case?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I was somewhat involved, because what happened is Nesbett --
because of conflicts with the Bar Association over Mackay, Nesbett decided to take over the -- a lot of the authority of the Bar.
MS. RUSSELL: Nesbett was on the Supreme Court, right?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: He was the Chief Justice. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And what he did was he -- his administrative assistant was Tom Stewart, who became a later state judge and
was very active in the Constitution and all the rest of it.
He sent Tom Stewart to take over the control of the Bar through its -- the funds and whatever.
He sent Tom -- Tom was -- went to the First National Bank over here.
And what happened is the -- they -- he went late in the afternoon,
and the bank in Anchorage, they didn't want to transfer the funds that late in the day or whatever. And so he came -- he -- they told him to come back in the morning.
MS. RUSSELL: He was going to transfer funds from the State Bar to --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Control of the federal -- MS. RUSSELL: To --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Control of the Supreme Court. MS. RUSSELL: Supreme Court. Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And so when Stewart came back the next day and he brought with -- this -- the state had a -- an established service section to handle the transportation of prisoners and all the rest of it.
And the guy who was the head of the service section at the state courthouse, Tom brought him down.
Well, the guy who was the bank's attorney was Roger Cremo.
And so the people in the bank told Tom Stewart that they'd been told he should call Cremo.
So he called Cremo, and Cremo asked Tom if the service officer who was -- in the state police --
but was in the service section handling prisoners and whatever -- was armed.
And Stewart said he was. He said that of course he's armed, all the State Troopers are armed.
And he said, "Well, have him unbutton his coat and show us."
Tom went along with it. Cremo then turned the funds over having fun.
Well, the Anchorage Daily Times had been notified about this.
And the next day, the Times came out, of course, in the afternoon.
It said that the court had ripped off the Bar.
And there was a lot of publicity and very embarrassing to the Supreme Court, and -- but that's what happened.
MS. RUSSELL: You were in the Superior Court at that time, right?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I was in the Superior Court.
MS. RUSSELL: And did you say -- were you the judge on the Neil Mackay case or not? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Huh?
MS. RUSSELL: Were you the judge for the Mackay trial?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I had some parts of it, but I -- you know, I didn't try it.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. Were you involved at all in the decision for the Capitol to be established in Juneau?
I'm not sure when that decision was made.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: That was made by the Supreme Court.
MS. RUSSELL: When you were not on the -- in the Supreme Court? JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh, nuh.
MS. RUSSELL: Were you familiar with the dynamics of that decision?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah, I was.
MS. RUSSELL: What happened there?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, the Bar, of course, in Juneau -- you know, all the attorneys in Southeast were opposed to relocation of the State Capitol up in -- outside of Wasilla wherever it was.
And so they supported and pushed for a referendum.
And the referendum opposed the transfer of the Bar -- I mean of the State Capitol to -- out of Juneau.
MS. RUSSELL: Well, the Constitution doesn't say where the Capitol is going to be, correct?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right.
MS. RUSSELL: So how did it end up in Juneau?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, it had been in Juneau.
The state -- the territorial capitol had been established at Sitka in the early days, first -- when the first judges were appointed.
First judge was appointed out of San Francisco.
And that's where he was seated, and there wasn't much of a state -- there wasn't much of a territorial government.
The federal government pretty much ran everything.
And later on, when the gold miners, Joe Juneau and -- what's the other guy's name --
began to mine in the Juneau area, there was a lot of pressure to support the mining and all the rest of it,
so the Capitol was then transferred to Juneau, and it remained in Juneau,
and but the -- there was a lot of movement up in this district.
And with this -- Nesbett was supporting that, pretty much, the movement of the court and all of that stuff, but Dimond opposed it.
And -- but anyway, the referendum refused and the Capitol never moved.
And there's still a lot of animosity down in Southeast Alaska about any efforts to move the Capitol or to transfer authority up here.
MS. RUSSELL: You mentioned Justice Nesbett. Were you involved at all on the -- right after statehood when the first Supreme Court was appointed? Did you get mixed up in that at all?
I believe there was a meeting in Nome with Cliff Groh deciding --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Oh, what happened, you're talking about the Nome Bar Association.
What happened is that they -- there was an effort on the part of our leaders at that time,
some of them, to control who would go on the Superior Court, who would go in the court system.
MS. RUSSELL: The -- oh, the Superior Court, not --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, the judges -- MS. RUSSELL: -- primarily -- uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Appointment of the judges. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And what happened is that they had -- what the effort was going to be was to have -- there's -- in each division there was a Bar Association.
There was a Bar Association in Juneau and Ketchikan; that was the first division.
There was one here, there was one in Fairbanks.
And they were -- they had a governing body.
Each Bar did, and so the deal was the governing body would control who would become the judges.
Well, the guy who was -- one of the members of the Board of Governors -- there was a meeting in Juneau -- was Cliff Groh.
And Cliff came down back here, and he told the people who were the officers of the Third District Bar --
and Ed Davis was an officer and several others --
and what it wanted to do would be they would take away the power from the individual members of the Bar and the board of officer --
the local board in charge would then decide who they were going to be.
Well, when it was made known here, Ed Davis, who was very important,
he decided to convene a meeting of the Anchorage Bar and he did so, and we met at the Loussac Library.
And the -- we had been told -- he'd been told that the guy who would be -- the one who would choose the judges
was a guy by the name of John Connelly. And John Connelly was a partner of Harold Stringer.
And so Stringer had been an important leader at Nome.
And so after -- when the Bar repudiated that -- Davis appointed two attorneys to go to Stringer
and tell him that if he -- if Connelly didn't withdraw, there would be a --
there would be an effort to convene a Bar convention in Ketchikan and to
overrule everything that happened up in Nome.
Well, the two that were told to go tell this to Stringer was Nesbett and myself.
So we went over, and Stringer realized that the -- almost all the members of the Bar were down in the Loussac Library downstairs -- that it was a lost cause in this district.
So he said that he would ask Connelly to withdraw from this high position that was to be established and -- choosing judges -- and -- but he didn't want him to be vilified.
So that was told to the Bar and Connelly then withdrew.
And the Bar then selected three people that were going to be the -- sort of -- the ones that would put the nominees, vote on the nominees and whatever.
And that was Ray Nesbett, a guy by the name of -- down in So -- in Seward,
Jack -- I think his name was Jack Werner -- and the third one -- trying to think of who that was.
And they would then select the names that would be voted on.
MS. RUSSELL: And this was for which court, now? The --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: This is in this district.
MS. RUSSELL: In this district, okay. Uh-huh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Yeah. And so what happened is efforts were made to get Fairbanks and Juneau and Ketchikan to go along the same way.
But what happened, the -- it was all the newly lawyers here, and they absolutely -- they took the three --
Ray Plummer, Jack Werner, and I forget the third guy -- they were the ones that reviewed the people who had filed,
and they made recommendations and the recommendations were all voted on here.
MS. RUSSELL: And then they went to the Governor?
UDGE FITZGERALD: They went to the Governor -- MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Well, Fairbanks said they would, but they subsequently changed it.
And Juneau and Ketchikan were together, and a guy by the name of Stump, who was a partner of the guy that they had designated, would be selecting the judges to be voted on in southeast.
Bailey -- they were brothers -- the Bar down there repudiate -- the only one that did was Anchorage.
So the Anchorage, they recommended probably -- I forgot how many; more than three, but --
and anyway, then the Governor selected them.
MS. RUSSELL: Well, the Judicial Commission that exists now had not been established yet at that time to --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: No. MS. RUSSELL: -- make those recommendations, right?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Right. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Not at all.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. We're going to be wrapping up here pretty quick for this session, Judge. In the --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I'm ready to go.
MS. RUSSELL: I bet you are. In the interim, I just wanted to ask you a little bit about what it was like to raise a family here.
How many children did you have and --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Four.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you get out into the outdoors a lot and -- JUDGE FITZGERALD: Uh-huh.
MS. RUSSELL: What kinds of things you like to do with your family.
Were they all real young when you moved to Anchorage, or were they --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: We had one child when we moved to Anchorage, the older boy, Dennis.
Oh, no, we had two. We had Dennis and then we were in Juneau when Karin had our oldest girl, Denise, and we came up here with the two.
Dennis was three or four years older -- two or three years older than Denise.
And then Deborah and Kevin were born here.
And they all went to the same -- Inlet View School.
And they started out at West, but Kevin transferred West -- to a prep school in -- it was a prestigious school in the east.
MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Denise also went to a prep school. And Dennis and Deborah, why they graduated from West.
And we then had a deal that if they -- they can go to a --
they can choose the colleges they wanted to go to, but if they chose a school in the west and graduated, getting liberal arts or whatever from there,
and wanted to get a higher degree, they could -- they then ought to go east.
And if they went east to the college and got their degree and they wanted to get a law degree or a higher degree, they would then go to a western university.
So what happened is Deborah went to Pomona, and then she went to law school at Northwestern -- Northeastern in Boston.
Kevin went to Harvard undergraduate and went to law school at Willamette in Oregon.
And they all switched back and forth.
And we wanted them to get a big, broad view of the United States and whatever.
And we felt Alaska was a little too close.
But they -- that's what they did, and -- MS. RUSSELL: Did any come back?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: They all came back to live here except Dennis, and he -- when he --
he went to graduate school at Willamette, and then he got married down there to a woman from Oregon, and
he settled in Oregon and now lives in California.
And then Karin -- with the daughter-in-law we have in California, she should be in -- getting pretty close to New York right now.
MS. RUSSELL: You had a very busy career when your children were young.
Did you have time to take them out skiing or doing anything fun?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: We had the ski cabin out at Alyeska and I did a lot of skiing.
I got on the ski patrol, but I didn't have the time to spend with them.
And, God, I was -- or the year I -- we -- I was two years in Southeast Alaska, supposed to be in Ketchikan.
Well, I spent half my time trailing out of Ketchikan.
I had to go investigate cases because they -- we had these commissioners and they would sign a complaint,
like the commissioner in Wrangell signed a murder complaint and I had to go investigate it.
And I did investigate it, and I had to go to places like Craig and Klawock, all over. Sitka.
And I remember my first trip. My boss was Pat Gilmore. He'd been raised in Ketchikan.
And he told me that -- Folta would come in the springtime and have a civil caseload.
He'd come in the fall and convene a grand jury and we'd try all the criminal cases in the fall.
But he said that before the grand jury convened, if there were cases that had not been investigated, I would have --
I should take a deputy marshal and go investigate them, and decide who the witnesses were and the rest of it, and decide all the charge -- what the charges would be.
So the first time I went was out to Craig, and there was a couple cases in Craig and a couple cases in Klawock.
Klawock was an Indian community, and there had been some sexual abuses of young Indian girls out there.
And so we left. This old deputy marshal, Fred Ryan -- he'd been a deputy for years -- we left Ketchikan, went in a Grumman Goose over to Craig.
The Goose was run by Ellis Airlines. They just taxied up to the shore and let us out.
We got out and walked around town, and for the first time I knew there wasn't any hotel or motel or anything.
And I said to him, it's in the fall, I said, "Where are we going to stay, Fred?"
And he said, "Well, I know the storekeeper here; his name is Jim Lucher (ph).
And he's got an upstairs bedroom.
I'll go see if we can't use his upstairs bedroom."
So he went to see him, and I walked around. And it started getting dusk.
And I went down near the store and the old marshal was there.
And he said, "Oh, we can use the upstairs bedroom."
So I climbed the stairs. And, well, the barge came in once a month.
Lucher (ph) had a general store and it had all kinds of supplies, cases of canned food, chainsaws, everything.
And the upstairs was just -- all this stuff was stored up there.
And out in the center of it was a big old four-poster bed.
And that was it. And I had to sleep with the marshal that night, and he snored.
I didn't get any -- hardly any sleep at all.
And, well, we went over to Klawock the next day.
And I had this young Indian girl who came in with her mother, and it involved several important people in the town there.
They had a Native community, you know, and the clan, and all the rest of it.
And so I asked her, the girl, when she was there with her mother,
if there was anybody to corroborate or verify what she --
and she named a couple other girls; the marshal went out and got them.
And, my God. It was the afternoon. I remember saying to Fred, "Fred, we could lock up a lot of able-bodied guys out here.
What do we do?" And he says, "Go back to Ketchikan, where you belong."
And the law in Klawock was this woman, and he took me down and introduced me to her.
Because we were going to subpoena some of these girls and we needed someone to bring them over from Klawock to Ketchikan,
stay with them during the grand jury, stay with them during the trial, and make sure they came back.
So anyway, this woman, she was huge.
She -- and I remember going in and she showed me her badge.
She'd been given a badge by the city council or -- it's not a council, it was the clan.
It was like an old star western sheriff. And she had it inside of a frame but there was no glass in front of it.
She just -- when she went to wear it, she'd pin it on.
And, God, I remember seeing all these -- everything in the front room was kind of tacky.
But she had this old wringer type washing machine and it was just buried in clothes.
And I said -- I asked her what happened, did her machine break down.
She said, "Oh, no, the power's been off for quite a while." She said, "But the people have been working in the cannery and will have the money -- they'll pay their assessments and whatever and will have the money to buy oil and run the generator."
And that's -- but for a number of months it had been out of order, no power at all.
MS. RUSSELL: Boy.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: And anyway, she brought the young women over to Ketchikan and she took them back. She was wonderful.
She'd been there for -- been there, raised there, all the rest of it.
MS. RUSSELL: Yeah. Well, you saw a lot of Alaska in the rural areas when -- during your Ketchikan years, didn't you, in particular? JUDGE FITZGERALD: (Indiscernible).
MS. RUSSELL: You had a lot of adventures and early Alaska exposure. Did you miss --
JUDGE FITZGERALD: I remember going up to investigate this murder case, and the guy that I'd interviewed before was a guy but the name of Stanley F. Davis.
And he had a boat up there, SFT. And he -- what had happened,
this guy, Cowboy Butler, had killed a Native -- important Native guy in town,
but he lied about it and there was no testimony.
Davis was the only witness that would have known him. They had an inquest and the people at the inquest lied.
And it all happened at what they call a party house.
And Davis had been in bed with this woman at the party house and Butler had come in and told him to get out of the bed, he might --
he wanted Davis to take him over to Banks Island in his boat, fishing boat.
And Davis didn't want to.
And Davis -- and when I interviewed him, he decided to tell the truth; he lied at the inquest.
But he had been a lifer in Idaho and had been paroled.
He came to Alaska. He was a safecracker.
Never had been involved in a crime of violence or whatever.
And he decided he'd confide in somebody in Wrangell, and he did.
And the guy told him to tell the truth; he lied at the inquest.
And he then went to the magistrate there, the commissioner, and told him the truth, and the commissioner passed it on to me.
And so I was up there, and this woman -- I interviewed both Davis and the woman,
and Davis told me what had happened, that going over to Banks Island, Butler told him that this Native guy would never be seen again.
He put a -- he tied some weights to him and threw him in the bay.
But a body did come up. But they had no evidence.
And -- but then Davis, when he told the magistrate, the magistrate told me.
And I went up and interviewed Davis and Davis told me what had happened, the guy had made these admissions.
And there was a doctor by the name of Bangaman (ph) who was -- when the body was recovered, he'd taken the breastbone out
and he'd taken the head -- part of the skull out, and he put them in some formaldehyde.
He had a big jar.
So anyway, I interviewed the woman, but she -- her first name was Molly. And she said Davis is lying.
I -- were -- both of them subpoenaed for the grand jury in Ketchikan, and they were subpoenaed.
Davis came down and I decided to confront him.
I had Davis brought in by a deputy marshal, and Molly was sitting at my desk. And I said, "One of you is lying."
I said, "Davis has told me his story, that he lied and all, and, Molly, you've just denied every bit of it."
And she turned around and she looked at Davis and she said, "God damn you, Stanley, that was our secret."
And what had happened is Cowboy Butler had shot -- had gotten in an argument at the party house with this guy, Native guy, and he got --
they got outside, and Butler shot him outside, then threw his body in the bay, with weights.
MS. RUSSELL: Wow. Well, you had a lot of colorful experiences in Ketchikan.
Did you miss that after you came to Anchorage and sat on the Superior Court Bench?
JUDGE FITZGERALD: Not on the Superior Court. MS. RUSSELL: No.
JUDGE FITZGERALD: On the Supreme Court, I kind of did.
MS. RUSSELL: You just liked that trial experience, huh? Ok, well we’ll break.