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Born in 1920 in Portland, Oregon, James Fitzgerald worked as a fireman and served in the US Marine Corps before going to law school at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He graduated in 1951 and moved to Alaska shortly thereafter. He was Assistant U.S. Attorney in Ketchikan and U.S. Attorney in Anchorage, Special Legal Counsel to Governor Egan, city attorney in Anchorage, and State Commissioner of Public Safety. He was one of the first eight judges appointed to Alaska’s Superior Court in 1959 and served through 1972, was a State Supreme Court Justice from 1973-1975, and was on the U.S. District Court of Alaska from 1975 until his retirement in 2006.
In addition to the inteview with James Fitzgerald in the Judges of Alaska Project Jukebox by Margaret Russell, he also was interviewed on May 5, 1982 by Pamela Cravez and in July and September 1982 by Claus Naske where he discusses other parts of his life and career. These interviews (Naske interviews: ORAL HISTORY 82-68-09/12 and ORAL HISTORY 82-70-03/04) are available at the Joint Archives of the Alaska Court System and the Alaska Bar Association, Alaska State Court Law Library, Boney Courthouse, Anchorage, Alaska (907) 264-0585/(888) 282-2082 and at the Oral History Collection, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, (907) 474-6773. For more about Judge Fitzgerald.