Judge Roy Madsen was interviewed on October 25, 2006 by Arthur Snowden in Anchorage, Alaska. Judge Madsen was born in the village of Kanatak on Kodiak Island, Alaska. His father was a fur trader, and his mother was Sugpiaq-Alutiiq of the Sun’aq tribe. He attended Oregon State College, served in the Navy during World War II, and went to law school at Northwestern College of Law in Portland, Oregon. He was the district attorney in Clackamas County, Oregon, was a private attorney in Kodiak, Alaska, helped establish the Kodiak Area Native Association and the Kodiak Community College, served on the University of Alaska Board of Regents, the Alaska Commission for Human Rights, and served as Superior Court judge in Kodiak from 1975 until his retirement in 1990. Judge Madsen is known as the only Alaska Native to be a Superior Court judge. In this interview, Judge Madsen reviews his life and career while looking at photographs from his personal collection. He talks about living a subsistence-based lifestyle, working on a fish trap and as commercial fisherman and guide, practicing law in Oregon and Kodiak, community involvement in Kodiak, the joys and challenges of his work and traveling to the rural areas he served as a judge, rural and Native justice, and some of the significant cases he handled.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Judges of Alaska
Date of Interview: Oct 25, 2006
Narrator(s): Judge Roy Madsen
Interviewer(s): Arthur Snowden
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Introduction and early childhood
His siblings and their careers
Life in the village of Kanatak
Education in Alaska and Oregon
First job out of high school
Joining the Navy during WWII
Marriage and becoming a guide and commercial fisherman in Kodiak
Attending law school at Northwestern College of Law
Passing the bar exam
Working as a District Attorney in Oregon and in private practice
Returning to Kodiak to practice law and became the city attorney
Appearing before traveling judges in Kodiak
1964 Earthquake in Kodiak
Rebuilding Kodiak and drafting zoning and planning ordinances
Involvement in Native and community organizations
Becoming a judge in Kodiak and traveling to remote villages
Impact of having a resident judge in Kodiak
Specific cases he tried
Other commissions and committees he was on after retirement
Frustrating times on the bench
Strengths and weaknesses of Alaska's judicial system
Changes he would make to Alaska's court system
Role of Tribal Courts
Activities after his retirement
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: ...with you. We're going to take about an hour and a half maybe even two hours. And we’re just going to spend some time on a wide range of issues about your background and your judicial career so we can have a record of it.
So, let’s start with something about your personal background. Where were you born?
ROY MADSEN: I was born -- I was born in a small Native Village on the Alaska Peninsula called Kanatak, about -- just a few miles from Katmai National Monument. It was a little Native village of a few hundred people.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And basically living a subsistence life style?
ROY MADSEN: Well, my father was a fur trader and he had a general merchandise store there and at the time the oil companies were exploring for oil over there, up around Lake Lashare (sp?). And he had gone over there and got involved in supplying the oil companies and things like that so.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s a good job to have. And you had brothers and sisters?
ROY MADSEN: I did. I was the fifth in a family of eight and I had, at the time I was born, I have a picture here.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So you are the smallest one in that picture there? ROY MADSEN: Yes. That’s when I was about 5 or 6 years old.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And what kind of truck is that in the background? ROY MADSEN: That’s a Model-T Ford.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A Model-T Ford truck, do you know what that would be worth today? That’s a good looking family. And what have your sisters grown up to do?
ROY MADSEN: Well, out of eight in our family, there's only two of us left. My sister that’s next to me in this picture and myself. She’s two years older than I. She’s 85, I’m 83.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, you don’t look 83. ROY MADSEN: The others are all deceased.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And what did they do in their --? ROY MADSEN: Well, my brother was a big game guide just like my father was. He followed in that --and my other sisters were married. And this one, my oldest sister died when she had tuberculosis. In fact, our whole family did when we were kids. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow.
ROY MADSEN: And she died down in Portland or Milwaukee, Oregon. She was being treated for tuberculosis there and died in 1945. And this -- my brother was killed in a plane crash on the Alaska Peninsula when he was guiding.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Happened to far too many people, didn’t it? ROY MADSEN: Right. Yeah. And the other sisters, my other three sisters have all been deceased -- one of them with cancer and various things like that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And, tell me about that first community that you grew up in. What was it like?
ROY MADSEN: Well actually, actually, my mother was from Kodiak and she’s a descendent of the original Russian settlers there and the Sugpiaq -Alutiiq people of the Sun'aq Tribe and my father was a Danish seaman who became a fur trader and he spent about 13 years up in the Arctic and Siberia trading before he moved down to Kodiak and married my mother.
And then when I was about four years old and my family moved to Kodiak where my mother’s original home. And my mother died there of tuberculosis when I was four.
And so my father remarried a few years later and I had a step-mother that brought me up and my father went -- went into the big game guiding business in Kodiak, hunting bear and over on the Kenai Peninsula moose, caribou, mountain sheep and then in the late 30’s up in the Rainey Pass area for moose, caribou, mountain sheep and grizzlies. But he mainly hunted Kodiak bear.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Show that picture to the camera, right -- ROY MADSEN: This is a picture of my oldest brother, Al, my oldest sister and myself. I was 11 years old. This was 1934. The first time my dad took me out on a bear hunting trip. And this bear was killed by a doctor from Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Moore, this was his . . .
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It was huge. ROY MADSEN: It was an 11 foot bear. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Huge specimen. So I imagine you had a number of significant events and activities when you were a child living in Kodiak in that kind of atmosphere.
ROY MADSEN: Yes. We used to -- our hunting cabins were about 75 miles from town and we used to travel to them by open skiff.
It took about 7 and a half hours to get there and we’d put the tents up and go out and gather fire wood and then the people that we were taking out on the hunting trips would come in by steamer.
There was only one ship a month from Seattle to Kodiak in those days. And so, that took over a week because the ship would stop in Petersburg, Ketchikan, Juneau, Seward before it got to Kodiak.
And then they'd come to the cannery just a few miles from where our hunting camp was and we’d pick them up there. And the hunts lasted for about three weeks and then we’d take them back to the cannery and so they could get back to their homes.
Of course, many of them were from the eastern part of the United States and they had to travel by train across country so it was quite a lengthy trip and most of the people were quite wealthy. In fact, they had to be to be away that long.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yes, and to take that kind of time. That was a major investment. I find it amazing. And what’s that picture, Roy? ROY MADSEN: That’s a picture of myself and my two older sisters when I was about 16 so it was about 1939. Just before I graduated from high school.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Now did you, where did you attend high school? ROY MADSEN: In Kodiak. I went through grade school and high school there and I graduated in 1941 and I think one of the questions you asked us -- people who had influenced my --my life.
And one of those people was Anthony J. Dimond. Justice Dimond’s father who was our delegate to congress. And when I graduated from high school, he gave me the principal appointment to Annapolis from Alaska.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow. ROY MADSEN: Unfortunately, I discovered when I took my physical that I was color blind so they didn’t accept me.
And so I left home and I went down to Oregon. I had, my sister was down there being treated for tuberculosis and I went down there and enrolled at Oregon State College which is now Oregon State University in Corvallis.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: The Beavers. ROY MADSEN: And Judge Dimond wrote to me and offered me the appointment to West Point for 1943 and I was already in college and ROTC and I had decided that I didn’t want to be in the Army so I declined.
I told him I would stick with what I had and then when World War II broke out, I was definitely decided I didn’t want to be in the Army so I dropped out of college and enlisted in the Navy.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s amazing. When you were in high school in Kodiak, what was school like in Kodiak? Was it a one room schoolhouse or was it a majorly large school?
ROY MADSEN: No. Actually, well I started in the first grade there and all of the classes were in one building and then when I was in high school there were 32 enrolled in high school. And when I graduated in May of 1941, there were 7 in our graduating class.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow. ROY MADSEN: The -- four girls and three boys. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You must have gotten a fine education with teachers able to concentrate on a class of that size. ROY MADSEN: It was a lot of personal attention, yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Now, you said then that you went down to Oregon because you had a sister who had tuberculosis and you enrolled in Oregon State, the Beavers, and you dropped out to join the Navy?
ROY MADSEN: Yes, I did. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Tell me about your Navy years.
ROY MADSEN: Well, first of all, before I -- I just wanted to mention that one of the -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Please do. ROY MADSEN: -- that this is a fish trap. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yes it is.
ROY MADSEN: My first job away from home when I was still in high school, I was seventeen years old, I wanted to make some money and so I got a job as a trap watchman on a fish trap and I did that for a few months.
And then I really wanted to be on a cannery tender as a deckhand and so I, this was kind of an interim position until I got the position on the cannery tender.
But this is, the traps were about 30 feet up above the sea and they had a lead of 15 hundred miles from the shore that went out to the, they were about 15 hundred feet from the shore.
And they were built on pilings and a little shack there and there were two people that lived there and our job was to keep all of the seaweed and kelp out of the lead that ran from shore.
And seals and sea lions used to get inside the trap and eat the fish. So they issued us a Colt 45.70 that looked like something from the Civil War and we would shoot those things and then we’d have to tow them out to sea to get rid of them.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You can’t do that anymore. ROY MADSEN: That’s for sure.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: They are down there at the Bonneville Dam eating all of the salmon right now -- on the Columbia.
ROY MADSEN: This is, when it got rough, it would sway like the boat and sometimes it would be so rough that the pilings would pop out ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow. ROY MADSEN:
And so they issued us a cod fish dory. You can see down there. And so we could row ashore when it got too tough out there and we couldn’t handle it any more. And there was a little shack on the shore that we could stay in until the weather subsided a little bit.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s fascinating. How many fish generally came through the trap in a given day? ROY MADSEN: Oh we -- the cannery tenders would come out there about once every five days and then brail the hundreds, fifty to thirty thousand fish out of the trap at a time.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow. And what were you mostly looking at? ROY MADSEN: Mostly pinks. But it was a mixture of pinks, silvers, dog salmon and red salmon.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Okay. Yeah, well that is absolutely fascinating. And you would live out there and do all that. That’s amazing. That’s all I can say. Can I see that picture again? ROY MADSEN: Oh, sure.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I just think that is just absolutely amazing.
I mean I was on the Kuskokwim helping John Sackett once with his little fish trap but that was a wheel that would go around. ROY MADSEN: A fish wheel, right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right, so that wasn't -- So, now your -- you’ve, now you’ve gone to Oregon State for about a year and so and you’ve enlisted in the Navy. ROY MADSEN: Right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And the Second World War came upon us.
ROY MADSEN: Right. This was during World War II. Here’s a picture of me when I was in the Navy. Another picture of me.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And where did you see action? ROY MADSEN: Well, I enlisted in Portland because I was going to college down there and they sent me to Norfolk, Virginia for my boot camp, you know.
About as far away as you could get. And then from there I went to Bainbridge, Maryland for additional training, then they sent me to Rhode Island and I went through motor torpedo boat school.
And I was on a PT boat in the Pacific, New Guinea and the Philippine Islands. This is a picture of me on the boat. And this is a picture of me with the crew of PT 190.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You and John Kennedy. ROY MADSEN: John Kennedy was 109, I was 190.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And did you see action? ROY MADSEN: I did. And here is a clipping from my home town newspaper, the Kodiak Mirror, March 8, 1945.
Here is a picture of myself at my battle station which was a 20 millimeter gun at the bow of the boat. And it’s labeled Local Boy Sees Action Against Japs.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Those were different times weren’t they? ROY MADSEN: Right. I was out there for, in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands for about a year and half, I guess. And this is, kind of, a history of the boat that I was on, all the art.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: All the things you sunk? ROY MADSEN: All the things we sunk, right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Mostly freighters and re-supply ships? ROY MADSEN: We traveled around in the bays to observe troop movements from island to island and we’d intercept them and shoot them.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And I guess you got shot at too? ROY MADSEN: Many times, yeah.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And I take it you didn’t get wounded or anything. ROY MADSEN: I -- not seriously. I had a slight injury.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So you got a purple heart. ROY MADSEN: I didn’t get a purple heart because my battle station was right at the very bow of the boat and there was a 37 millimeter to my left that used to shoot right by my left ear so I lost some hearing.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I guess you did. ROY MADSEN: Right. I was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Theatre with one battle star, Philippine Liberation Medal with one medal, Philippine defense medal, Philippine independence medal, American guardian medal, European African Middle East good conduct medal and World War II victory medal.
Those are all awards I received in the military. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s amazing. That is amazing.
My uncle served in World War II, he was in the Battle of the Bulge and I used to -- he used to tell me about it. He was an Army grunt and my dad was in a critical job so he was working Pratt when the aircraft building jet, piston engines and so he didn’t go to war.
He stayed home and built engines for the planes and after the war, went over with others to help rebuild Rolls Royce in England. He didn’t go, so I learned all my stories about the war from my uncle.
ROY MADSEN: Well, that’s why I joined the Navy, because I didn’t want to be sleeping in a fox hole or having to worry about that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yes, yes, I think the people in the Air Force had it the best. They got to fly home to their base every day or at least to Navy aircraft. They got to come back to a carrier.
ROY MADSEN: From what I know -- from what I read about the campaigns in Europe there were a lot of Air Force people that didn’t make it back. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, that is true.
ROY MADSEN: That was a pretty hazardous thing. I had a choice of either being on a landing craft or PT boat and I chose something small and fast rather than slow. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You’re sure to have a bunch of things shooting at it while it’s trying to land.
ROY MADSEN: Right, well they you used to call them LSTs -- long slow targets. So that’s why I opted for something different. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I think that was a very wise choice. So you were discharged after the war?
ROY MADSEN: I was and when I got out of the service, I had gotten married and I married in Philadelphia and when the war was over I went back there and this is not the -- there weren’t very many jobs available and I felt like I had to go back to Alaska.
And I took my, then wife and I had a small, one daughter, back to Kodiak and that was really a hard transition for somebody from Philadelphia to make to -- Kodiak had a population of about fifteen hundred people which was three times as big as it was when I grew up. But it was still pretty small.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And when did you go back and finish college? ROY MADSEN: I -- I didn’t. Instead of going back to college, I went to work with my dad as a guide. I got a guide’s license and I went into that business and was a -- and a commercial fisherman.
And so I fished up in Bristol Bay at the time when they didn’t allow motors up there. They still used sail boats. So I got a job.
I had an uncle that lived up there and I wrote him and told him I wanted to come up there to fish and so he hooked me up with this gentleman who was in his 70s at the time and he was a master mariner -- had his master’s license in sail and steam and he was tough old bird, I tell you. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I'll bet he was.
ROY MADSEN: And he could sail. And so anyway, this is -- in the summer time this was underway in the sail boat. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Bristol Bay isn’t an easy fishery even with motorized craft let alone sail.
ROY MADSEN: No. We had I think, this was my partner there, we were being towed in after a closure. The boats were 32 feet long and they didn’t have any cabin on them.
So what we did at night, we’d put the mast down and put the sail over the mast and crawl underneath that and sleep under that. And we cooked our meals, with mostly opening cans and heating them up on the little primus stove or Swede stove.
And that -- we'd do that for about three days at a time and then we would sail into a big barge and then unload and we had three, three shackles of gill net -- this was drift gill netting. Three, three, three hundred fathom shackles so that nine hundred fathoms of net that would come out.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And you had a hand pull? ROY MADSEN: We had to hand pull it over these rollers here. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow.
ROY MADSEN: And we had two sets of fourteen foot oars that we had to -- would row when there wasn’t any wind. So that’s what I did in the summer time and in the winter, and in the spring and fall --
here’s picture of myself, my father and my uncle who were all guides when I was about 23 years old, I guess and I went into the guiding business with my father. And I did that in the spring and in the fall. And this is another picture.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It's obviously you were very fit. Pulling in all those nets.
ROY MADSEN: And this is a picture of my uncle and I skinning a bear. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: My gosh.
ROY MADSEN: So I did that in -- from April until right around the first of June we’d guide and then I’d take off and go up to Bristol Bay and I’d fish from June until August and then I would come home and then I’d long shore from August and September
and then we would go out on hunts, the fall hunts and hunt until about the first of November and then I went to work in a men’s clothing store in the winter time.
And I worked there from November until about April again. And just out of boredom and something to do, I started taking a correspondence course in law.
And so I kind of got interested, and got hooked in, so you see, and so I decided I wasn’t getting as much out of the correspondence classes as I would if I were actually in school.
So I gave up my guiding and my fishing and moved down to Portland and enrolled at Northwestern College of Law and this was a night school at the time, it's now part of Lewis and Clark but it’s a full day, daytime classes and that I’m sure you are familiar with.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I am very familiar with it. ROY MADSEN: Excellent reputation.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It has a marvelous reputation. In fact, Justice Alex Bryner is on their board.
ROY MADSEN: Yes, yes he is. I enrolled there in 1949. And of course I had a family, I had two children by that time so I had to work. I had a forty hour work day or week.
I worked in a warehouse unloading boxcars for a chain of grocery stores and went to school nights for four years.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You're an amazing individual. I'm dumbfounded with the amount of things you packed into a short life and the number of adventures. At least by the way I look at it, great adventures, you had.
And seeing this state in its most pristine state of being rather than the way we see it here today. It is amazing. And so, you were at law school and you were working forty hours a week.
ROY MADSEN: Right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: But you liked the law?
ROY MADSEN: I loved it, I loved it because, I think one of my big passions all of my life has been reading. And I read for pleasure and I read everything I could pick up and so I just didn’t have any problems.
Once I got acquainted with some of the terms that were foreign to me and we had a lot of reading to do. And of course, working physically for eight hours a day, when I sat down at night, I was ready to rest but my brain was still active, but my body was tired.
So I was able to sit and study, on the nights that I wasn’t in school, I could sit and study until one o’clock in the morning without problem, and sit in class without being bored where a lot of the fellows in my class had office jobs and they were sitting inside most of the day.
So I felt actually it was an advantage to be doing hard physical labor.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: What would you think was your biggest challenge in law school? ROY MADSEN: Boy, I think - I think, trusts probably.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yeah, I found taxation to be my biggest challenge, but trusts would come a close second. Anyway, you enjoyed law school and --
ROY MADSEN: Well, in my third year, I had an injury. I fell from the loading platform down between the boxcar that I was unloading and the loading platform injured my back so I had to give that up.
And I was on workman’s compensation during my recovery and so I went to a business college and I took typing and shorthand and bookkeeping for about three months.
And then I got a job as a legal secretary for an old, old attorney. And he was a crotchety old buzzard.
He made me, he'd give me cash and then I would have to walk around Portland and pay all of his bills for his utilities with cash and if I made a mistake, you know, it came out of my pocket.
And he was a secretary for the Timberline Corporation that ran Timberline Lodge. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Up on Mount Hood?
ROY MADSEN: Right. And so he would give me the minutes of the board meetings and I had to type them up and I couldn’t make any mistakes when I typed. It had to be perfect.
And then peop -- clients would come in and he'd dictate a will and they would sit in his office and visit while I typed it up and I couldn’t make any mistakes. It had to be perfect.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It doesn't sound like a lot of fun working there, Roy ROY MADSEN: It was really a tough job but it really trained me well. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yeah.
ROY MADSEN: And so I went on and I got a job for a title insurance company and they had about six women typist but only the best typist there typed up the policies and guess who got that job. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You.
ROY MADSEN: I did. I had to type all the policies because they couldn’t have mistakes in them.
But that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a title examiner and so when there was an opening for a title examiner with one of the other companies, I went to work for them as a title examiner.
And I really enjoyed that because it was, fit -- just led into what I had studied with law, looking into all those records and the mortgages and divorces and everything that are involved in the title to real estate, probates and everything.
So I think that was very good training and I did that for a couple years and then I took the bar in Oregon in 1953 and I passed.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That was a relief wasn’t it? ROY MADSEN: It was a relief, but I had never had any practical experience or any kind of training in public speaking so I was a little conscious of my inability.
And so I took a Dale Carnegie course in public speaking because I decided, well as long as I was a member of the bar, I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I tried practicing so, and I couldn’t do that unless I was able to speak publicly.
So, I took this course and that’s one of the best things I ever did in my life. It was a wonderful thing to do.
And then an ope -- there was an opening in the District Attorney’s Office in Klamath County and I applied for that and I was accepted and so I did that for five years as an assistant district attorney.
And I practiced, or I tried cases in seven different courts including the Oregon Supreme Court, appeared before that.
But the circuit courts there, I tried misdemeanors and magistrate courts and district court and felonies in the circuit court and we handled our own appeals and we also had to be active advisors to the county commissioners so it was a well rounded experience.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A marvelous experience. You did so much to improve yourself all of your life. And we're still in yours 20s. Most people would have lived their whole life by now.
ROY MADSEN: Well, I was 30 when I graduated from law school. So I was a little older than a lot of people were at that -- and I had a family. Not only that, but the year that I graduated, 1953, in June, my wife gave birth to twins so I had four children to support by that time. And --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Now how was your wife going through all of this? She -- I picture her in Kodiak. You’re never home because you’re out in the Bering Sea in the summer and you’re out guiding in the fall. And she’s in this small community trying to cope.
ROY MADSEN: Well, she used to go back to Pennsylvania. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Oh.
ROY MADSEN: When I left in April, she'd take off and go back to her family in Pennsylvania and then she would come back in October and be there for the winter. But then --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, that was a good compromise.
ROY MADSEN: It was a strain on the marriage and finally she, she was the one who insisted that she wasn’t going to live in Kodiak any more and so that's what -- one of the things that was our impetus for moving to Oregon to go to law school because she was very unhappy in Kodiak.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And did she like Portland? ROY MADSEN: She loved Portland. But when I decided to go back to Ala -- I thought that after I graduated, and I had a different profession where I was home that it would kind of change things.
But it didn’t change anything because when I graduated in 1953, it was about the time Eisenhower was elected.
And so they were changing U.S. Commissioner positions which were appointed by the U.S. District Judge here in Kodiak, in Anchorage, and so when the people in Kodiak found out that I was a member of the bar, they had asked me to apply for the commissioner’s job there.
And so I went up to Kodiak and looked it over but my wife wasn’t having any part of that.
She wasn’t coming back. So I went back to Oregon and then eventually went into the District Attorney’s Office.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So now, you’ve been in Clackamas County, you’re a district attorney, you’ve tried cases all the way from misdemeanors to appearances in front of the supreme court of the state. ROY MADSEN: Right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And that lasted for about five years? ROY MADSEN: Five years. Well, here’s a picture, the only picture I have of me when I was in the District Attorney’s Office.
One of the constables -- they had constables in those days that served process and things like that. And he had a pilot’s license and he took me out flying one day.
And this is the Clackamas County Bar Association in about 1955. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I’m sure it’s larger now.
ROY MADSEN: Oh, definitely. At that time there were probably about a hundred and twenty-five thousand people in Clackamas County and they had two circuit judges, a district attorney and two assistants and I don’t know what it is now, but --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It is considerably larger, but I’m not sure they get to do the kinds of things you did. I mean, you got to practice at all levels. ROY MADSEN: Yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: My daughter who is a district attorney, it took her four years before they allowed her, before she got her first murder case. You sort of work your way up through the rungs, and so you got a marvelous cross section of experience in that five years you were there.
ROY MADSEN: I did. I really appreciated that, too.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And what did you do when you left there? ROY MADSEN: Well, my boss, this was an elected position with the district attorney.
And when I'd only been there for about a year and he was up for reelection and almost got defeated.
And he was a very good man and you know, the lawyers were a little bit fickle and it made me a little bit uneasy because I had a family to support and incidentally when I took that job, in my graduating class the top salary was $350 a month.
That was the best. And so I got this job and that’s was I got was $350 a month but they also gave me a position as the librarian for the county library and I got $75 a month for that so I took care of the library on the side in my spare time.
And we were allowed to draw deeds and the wills and things like that so I made a little extra money doing that and probate estates for welfare people, people who were on welfare.
The social services would let assistant DAs handle their estates and so I did that and I made a little extra money there so, I did pretty well.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, you always have work ethic, that’s fairly obvious, holding all those jobs down.
ROY MADSEN: After five years my boss told me that he was going to leave the office and recommended me for the position and he said he'd talked to the governor.
He talked to both the republican and democratic parties and they were willing to accept me.
But I was looking at the history of the district attorneys in the county and most of them had served about -- at the most about eight years and then they would go off into private practice or go into the AGs office or something like that.
And I thought there wasn’t any future in it. Plus I was going to have to run for election and you had to go to the bar and ask them for donations to support you.
It was the same with the judges and that just didn’t appeal so me so I told him I wasn’t interested and I went to a bar convention in Bend one year and one of the old, older attorneys there in Oregon City was going there to receive his fifty year pin and he asked me to go with him.
And of course, he had a new car and I was driving a clunker so I was happy to accompany him. And so he asked me if -- what my plans were and I told him I was thinking about leaving and he asked me if I would go into partnership with him.
So I accepted. But unfortunately it didn’t work out. He wanted me to do all the work which was fine with me, I didn’t have any problem with that because he -- he'd come in the office in the morning and sign a few papers and then he'd go down to the Elks Club and spend the day and then come back at the end of the day to do -- check on things.
And I was supposed to be the office manager and our business built up to the point where we had to hire a second secretary and he had never stayed open on Saturdays, but I felt like I had to and so I wanted to alternate the two secretaries.
And the one that worked for him refused to come in. And so I fired her. And that didn’t go over too well with him.
And so we get in -- and then he found out that she was embezzling and wanted my advice and I told him, fire her. Well, she had been with him for seven years and he didn’t want to do that and so we finally came to a parting of the ways.
And so I just said goodbye to that because it wasn’t going to work out. And I went in part-time with one of the fellows that had graduated a year or two before me in Canby, Oregon.
He had a practice. I was living in Lake Oswego at the time. And I had about a twenty mile drive and he had plenty of business. And the people in Canby accepted me but they kind of expected me to live in the community and I wasn’t ready to move there.
And so I didn’t want to make that move and so I decided I really wanted to be on my own anyway. I didn’t want to get in another partnership and so I decided to come back to Alaska.
And so I finally just folded everything up and moved back to Kodiak. Unfortunately, I had to reestablish my residence because I had been gone for twelve years.
And so I came back in July and I couldn’t take the bar until January. And so I took a job as a clerk in a hardware store.
And I worked there and at the time George Hayes was the Attorney General and he came to Kodiak for a convention, a realtor’s convention or something, and he came into the store and he said “Roy, what are you doing here?”
He says “I need you in Anchorage. I understand that you’ve been a prosecutor” and I said “that’s right.” He said, “well, come to Anchorage” and I said, “no, I’m gonna practice in Kodiak.”
And so I just stuck it out and took the bar in January and I was admitted in March and opened up my office. And there was a lawyer -- one lawyer in Kodiak at the time and he had been there for seven years and he wanted to get out of Kodiak.
So he approached me and Warren Pepper was his law clerk. Warren had come to Alaska from New York. And so he was going to turn his practice over to Warren.
And Warren and I took the bar and Warren didn’t pass it and I did so Warren had to move on and this fellow offered to sell me his practice and I said “well how much do you want.” And he said “twenty thousand dollars.”
And I said “well, I haven’t got twenty thousand dollars.” You know, I had shipped up my office furniture and books and stuff from Oregon and Johnny Hughes had given me a set of the Alaska Statutes and so, -- and a briefcase to go with them.
So, I had known Johnny back in Kodiak when he first passed the bar, back about 1947 or so before he moved to Anchorage. So I had run into him when I came back.
And so anyway, a week or so went by and this attorney called me up and said “well, how about you want to take my practice over.” “Well how much do you want?” “Well, ten thousand.” I said “no, forget that.” “Well how about five thousand dollars.” And I said “no, I don’t think so.”
He said “well, what do you want. Come over to the office and look at it.” And so he had, I had an old, you know, Royal typewriter that I had shipped up and he had an Underwood electric. And I said “how much do you want for your Underwood electric.”
“One hundred and fifty dollars” and I said “I’ll buy it.” And so I bought his typewriter and a week later I went down to my office one day and here’s a dump truck, or a flat bed truck going by with all of his files and everything taking them to the dump, that he offered me for twenty thousand.
But he told me it was the history of Kodiak, he was hauling it to the dump.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, you were going to get the practice anyway, you didn’t have to buy it. You were going to be the only attorney in Kodiak, right? ROY MADSEN: Rigth, so I was for a year or two I guess, and I was -- wait, I was -- where is it?
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That's funny because one of the questions I was going to ask is what was the legal community like when you arrived and you were the legal community. ROY MADSEN: I was, right. It’s one of these pictures here.
I can’t find it, but -- Oh, yeah. Here it is. Good. Copy of the Kodiak Mirror, June 29, 1962.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: There it is. ROY MADSEN: Hometown -- Roy H. Madsen Hometown Boy Appointed New City Attorney. Right. So that was my first job for the magnanimous sum of one hundred dollars a month, I was retained by the City of Kodiak.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Part time, though, you’ve still got your private practice. ROY MADSEN: Oh right, yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And you enjoyed that I take it? ROY MADSEN: Well, I did. I did to a certain extent.
But unfortunately there were a lot of people in town that didn’t think that was a good thing for me to be the city attorney because being the only attorney in town kind of foreclosed representing them in issues that involved the city and so it wasn’t a good thing really.
Because this was just shortly after statehood when the statehood turned over all the tidelands to the city and they were parceling them out and selling them to develop seafood processing plants and things like that.
And there were people that I had known all my life who had little parcels down there where they had -- they were really were entitled to the tidelands because they'd used them for their own purposes, including my uncle who had taken over from his, my grandparents and (indiscernible) ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So by adverse possession, if by no other reason.
ROY MADSEN: They almost got squeezed out so that it wasn’t the best choice, I guess, of careers. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: No. It sounds like it wasn’t.
ROY MADSEN: But I did that for almost thirteen years. And I was there, you know, in 1964 when the earthquake and title wave hit.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Before we get to that and I really want to get to that, who were the first judges you appeared before? You’re the city attorney now, you’re in Kodiak. The judges must be coming out there every once in a while. ROY MADSEN: Not very often. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Not very often.
ROY MADSEN: As a matter of fact, I think Judge Moody used to come over. He had been the, when I first came up I think he was still the attorney general. But, then he became a judge. And Judge Davis came over occasionally.
We had a beautiful court building -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yes, you did. ROY MADSEN: -- that had been built for the U.S. District Court and we had the commissioner, the lady that was the commissioner there, became the magistrate.
I guess they called them district magistrates at the time. It was Mable Fener.
And so, they had a nice court facility there and I tried quite a few cases involving fish and game violations. Things like that and nice jury facilities.
As a matter of fact, I guess Anchorage used to send a judge over about once every two months when I first got there and then when my practice got going, they started to send them over a little more frequently.
But whenever the judge came, and there was one occasion when Judge Moody was over there and all the jurors, the prospective jurors, had to be there. All the witnesses, the lawyers, defendants, everybody had to be in court at nine o’clock on Monday morning when he had call of the calendar.
And the courtroom was jam packed with, from wall to wall. And he walked in, well his clerk walked in, rapped the gavel and said “All rise, the Honorable Ralph Moody and the good court is now in session.”
And everybody stood up except one old fisherman, a Norwegian fisherman. He sat there with his arms crossed like that. Judge Moody looked out and said “What’s the matter with you.”
And the guy says “I rise for no man except God and the king.” And Judge Moody looked at him and said “five days for contempt.” And the man stood up and he says “You can’t speak to this royal Norwegian face like that.”
And the judge said “Five more days.” But the fellow was already in jail for drunkenness or something so I don’t think he served the time.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Now, let’s move one. Tell me about the earthquake. You were starting to get into that and I digressed because I wanted to figure out with these judges coming over what was happening.
ROY MADSEN: Well, what happened was, the day and night of the earthquake, our magistrate was rushed to the hospital and died of a heart attack and the whole town is destroyed and the city council’s having emergency sessions.
And they’re worried about -- in fact, when marshal law is declared the Navy was still there and so they had Marines that were walking around, National Guard and everything trying to keep order.
And the city fathers said “well, we have to have some law and order in this town, so we’re going to appoint you as the judge, the municipal judge.” I said “well, you don’t have any authority to do that.” “Well, we’re doing it anyway because we have to have somebody” and so they nominated -- appointed me as a judge.
Fortunately I didn’t have to take any action because the court system saw that we had a problem there, so they sent somebody over. They needed a coroner more immediately.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I think Jim Hanson came over, I believe. ROY MADSEN: Right, who? ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Jim Hanson. ROY MADSEN: I can’t remember who it was, but --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: He mentioned that -- ROY MADSEN: Maybe he did. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: -- he came over because he was flying around, not just there but he had to go to Valdez and Cordova and other places because he was a coroner.
ROY MADSEN: Right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And so he flew out to Kodiak he said. ROY MADSEN: Yeah.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So the town got destroyed by a tsunami? ROY MADSEN: Yes, yes. There were 134 buildings destroyed and fourteen people were killed. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow.
ROY MADSEN: And so -- it just so happened that they were in the process of planning for an urban renewal district at the time and so that kind of fell into place. The part that was destroyed became an urban renewal district.
And so when the reconstruction started I asked -- I did -- the small business administration was handling the disaster loans and I became a key counsel for the small business administration to administer loans and do that kind of thing, so.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: The courthouse withstood that didn’t it? ROY MADSEN: Yeah, it did. Yes. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And so now you’re working on small business loans.
ROY MADSEN: Right. Among other things, and then they started the creation of the Kodiak Island Borough and so I was appointed the Borough attorney and I had to draw -- draft all the ordinances for that and the planning and zoning ordinances and the plans for the comprehensive plan so I was going day and night between the city council meetings I had to be all of those and the borough meetings and the planning and zoning meetings and all of those things. I was going around the clock.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Was your family back with you at that time? ROY MADSEN: Yes, yes, they were there.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Doesn’t sound like you got to see much of them. ROY MADSEN: Well, two of my daughters were in college by that time.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Okay. I’ve never heard of a man who’s worked harder than you, Roy. I will say that. Do you have, do you remember any significant or tremendous or most interesting cases you handled while you were an attorney? Was there anything that stood out to you?
ROY MADSEN: You know, I was trying to -- when I was looking at that questionnaire, I was trying to, maybe I -- I couldn’t think of anything specific. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: They were all interesting then, or they're all boring. ROY MADSEN: Well, you know, here it is. I --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I’ll tell you what Roy, why don’t we take a little break here so Cameron can rest her feet and you can look for that information and we’ll start again. ROY MADSEN: All right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Is that okay, Cameron?
ROY MADSEN: We were talking about asking whether or not there were any especially memorable or significant cases during my years in Kodiak. And I think I mentioned the fact that I had been the city attorney but I was also on the charter commission so I helped draw up the charter for the city of Kodiak.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I mean those are significant events. ROY MADSEN: It was. And of course forming the borough -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Exactly. ROY MADSEN: -- which was a significant event and after the earthquake, you know, the urban renewal plan and drawing up the borough ordinances and planning and zoning and comprehensive plan
and working as the SBA key counsel during the reconstruction. And then about the same time, it was 1966, I think, that the Native Land Claims -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Settlement Act?
ROY MADSEN: Settlement was being pursued and so I got involved in the Kodiak Area Native Association as a, I was one of the founders of the Kodiak Area Native Association to help lobby for passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
And as a matter of fact I went back to Washington lobbying for that in 1971, I think it was, '70. And of course after the passage of the Act, I was involved in the forming of the Koniag which was the regional native corporation for the Kodiak area.
And I incorporated all of the village corporations on Kodiak Island, about seven of them and I was involved in the training of the directors and the people that were going to be taking over responsibilities and all of those things. So and I was in-house counsel for the --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You had a defining impact on Kodiak, then, basically. You’ve done almost everything that Kodiak is as an establishment. You formed this, you form that, you did this and that and then you started doing the tribal incorporation, so.
ROY MADSEN: About the same time, Dr. William Wood was coming over to Kodiak and I became acquainted with him through one of the men from Kodiak who had graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
And we got to talking about a community college and so I became the first president of the Kodiak Community College Advisory Board.
And so I was instrumental in that and then Governor Egan appointed me to the Board of Regents and so I was on -- I have a picture of that right here. This is -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow.
ROY MADSEN: And I was on the Board of Regents with Brian Brundin, Vide Bartlett, Edith Bullock, Frank Doogan, you probably know him. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I Knew the Doogans.
ROY MADSEN: And Robert McFarland, Hugh Fate, Shar - A.E. Robertson and this is it. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Is this a group picture? ROY MADSEN: Yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A lot of famous names in that group, there. ROY MADSEN: Yes, it was quite an enjoyable period there to be involved in that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And how did you get to know Bill Egan? ROY MADSEN: Actually, I didn’t know him personally. I met him one time when the speaker of the house was -- from Kodiak his name was DeVough. And Bill Egan was in town and he introduced me to him.
And so it was just a passing acquaintance but . . . ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Enough to get you appointed.
ROY MADSEN: When he called me up, we were having the, I guess it was a celebration of centennial of some kind. He called me up one day and wanted to appoint me to the centennial commission and he said “I’m sending in the appointment and all of the materials so you can start working on it.” And I said “thank you Governor” and then I was on my way.
I came over to Anchorage for something and I was paged in the airport and it was the governor and he said “Roy, I’ve got a more important job for you. I’m appointing you to the Board of Regents.” And I said “wonderful.” And just like that. So.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I'd only met Governor Egan a couple of times myself. ROY MADSEN: He was a wonderful person. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: But he had a great memory for names. ROY MADSEN: Absolutely, yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: He would meet you once and he would address you by name. I never could do that. ROY MADSEN: Me neither. I guess I never would have made a politician.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Did you notice, this is an aside in a way, but it was around this time now. Bill Egan's there and you’ve got the Native Land Claims Settlement Act money and Alaska’s just gotten its nine hundred million dollars for the oil rights to the North Slope.
Did you notice the economies improving with this nine hundred million infusion of money that came into the state. ROY MADSEN: Well, as a matter of fact, you know, this was a period of time when the king crab was really in its heyday. It was a big industry in Kodiak there were --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It was, I came over in 73. ROY MADSEN: -- 50 - 60 billion pounds of king crab was being harvested and things like that. And we had something like twenty-one processing plants there in Kodiak. And it was really a, probably the impact from that money was -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Rather than the state’s money? ROY MADSEN: Right, yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Because I remember that a lot of rural communities started getting some money after that nine hundred million dollars came in, some of the rural legislators were able to get some money, finally, to do some things in rural Alaska. And I thought some of the money would have probably flowed out to Kodiak, too. That’s why I asked the question.
ROY MADSEN: Well, I they they did build the present court building with some of that money, but --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I’m sure -- I'm sure that we did get some of that money to get a courthouse. When did you first decide to pursue a career as a judge? Or did you decide or did it just happen like all these other things.
ROY MADSEN: No, I actually -- I had visions. You know, I was impressed with the judges that I practiced before in Oregon. One of them, Judge Holman, became, went from the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court of Oregon.
And one of my law professors went up to the Supreme Court in Oregon and I was impressed with the people.
And one of my law professors was a judge, a circuit judge at the time, Judge Crawford. And so I aspired to --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Someday be on the bench. ROY MADSEN: -- follow their footsteps and, you know, I almost felt that the people that had the most influence in my life was my father who was an immigrant who left home when he was fourteen years old and didn’t even really have an education but he built a very excellent business.
And of course, Judge Dimond who gave me the opportunity to go not only to Annapolis but to West Point and I felt like I had to prove something to somebody. That I was worthy of their belief in me.
And so I decided that the best way to do that would be to advance my career to a position on the bench and I admired the judges that I practiced before so I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And you were what, appointed by Jay Hammond in 1975? ROY MADSEN: Yes. Yes, I was. I was, I've got a picture -- here’s picture of Justice Boochever -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Swearing you in.
ROY MADSEN: -- swearing me in. And somewhere in here I have a picture of Governor Hammond when he appointed me. I hope I can find it. There, here it is. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I loved Jay Hammond. He was a wonderful governor for the courts, I’ll tell you that.
ROY MADSEN: He really was. And he was another person like Bill Egan who never forgot a face. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yeah. ROY MADSEN: I'd run into him and he’d just look at me and just wrap his arms around me and give me a big hug.
And he always acted like he was so happy to see me and I think one of the things that we had in common was the fact that he was a guide at one time. There’s my, he was familiar with my father and my brother and the fact that I had been a guide and so --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: He and I became very close personal friends and he was just a great human being and you are right. He wasn’t an arrogant governor. You know, he was -- ROY MADSEN: Absolutely not. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: He could meet a guy in a barroom.
ROY MADSEN: He’d probably tell all of his appointees the same thing, but when he'd run into me he would say, “Roy, you’re the best appointment I ever made in my position as governor.”
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I had the misfortune of him telling me who the worst appointments he ever made were. So, he rarely had a decision that he didn’t like. Because he did appoint a lot of the members of the judiciary, he was in there for eight years. ROY MADSEN: That’s right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So, what particular challenges did you face in your early years on the bench? What stands out in your mind about your early years on the bench?
ROY MADSEN: Well, I guess I don’t know whether you remember or not when you came to Kodiak for my swearing in. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I did remember.
ROY MADSEN: And I had, I had applied for the position when it was first created and the then governor, whoever he was. I can’t even remember his name. He took over when Hickel went to the Department of Interior. Miller?
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Miller? ROY MADSEN: Miller, appointed Ed Burke and Ed Burke was only in Kodiak for about three months and then he moved to Anchorage and that created a problem and then when he started coming back, he would only come back for on a Friday and then leave again.
And so when I was appointed, I said Kodiak needs a judge. They should have one here and I was told that I was not only going to be the judge in Kodiak, but I was also going to have to cover everything west of Kodiak.
And I thought that was a pretty big stretch. But it turned out to be one of the most interesting things that happened to me and the most enjoyable of my time on the bench, going out there to those remote places.
I did probably as much or more traveling than any judge. I felt like a circuit riding judge because I not only covered my own area, I covered Kodiak and Dillingham, and Naknek and Sand Point and Cold Bay and Unalaska and St. Paul, but I also would be called to Kotzebue.
I'd be called to Bethel. I'd go to Fairbanks. I'd sit in Palmer or I'd sit in Homer or in Kenai. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You did get around Roy.
ROY MADSEN: It was, and Anchorage. I can’t forget Anchorage. I sat here quite often. But I think that was what really made my career on the bench enjoyable was to get out there not because you’re talking about problems, but I have, I have to feel like. I have to tell you how it worked out for me. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I don’t consider them problems. I --
ROY MADSEN: No, it wasn’t a problem. But when I would go out to those places. In fact the first time I went to Cold Bay, they told me they hadn’t had a judge out there for seven years and I was not only sit as a superior court judge, but a district judge and I was also a magistrate training judge and so I had to make the circuits and see how things were doing.
And so I'd stay there for two or three days and the people actually for the first time felt like they were actually part of the system.
Before that they had always, and when I'd go to Unalaska, the people down there said well, you know the judges from Anchorage, they, all they worry about is getting out of here and they come in, they want to get out and that’s the same experience I had in Kodiak. When the judges were there, they had to get back out as fast as they could.
Well, I'd stay and I would talk to the people and I got acquainted and as a matter of fact in Dillingham, one of the people there that I met, I had known when I was in high school.
He had lived in Kodiak at the time, his family. And so this created a bond and I got acquainted with other people through him and one of the bad boys in the Bristol Bay area was from Kodiak and I knew him.
He had been a client of mine when I had been in practice and the people were scared of him but he'd come before me and it was like a human being.
And so, you know, one of the first ladies that I met in Dillingham, her father used to have the mail run from Dillingham to Kanatak where I was born, by dog team and she had gone with him.
And so these are the kinds of connections that I made with people out there and it kind of -- they began to look at me as their judge and it really made me feel -- feel that way.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well also, what also it spurred on is that communities like Dillingham, Nels Anderson was always saying we want a judge, you know, Roy Madsen comes out and he helps us and now that we see what its like and we want a judge. And it started people pushing to get judges out in rural Alaska.
ROY MADSEN: Nels and I -- Nels was with me in Washington, D.C. when we lobbied for passage of the Native Lands claims. These are the kinds of connections that I made. And it was, I think it was a wonderful experience.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, it was wonderful for the court, that somebody with your temperament and your abilities was able to go there. And when you first started going there, most of those magistrates were working off their kitchen tables. We hadn’t even been able to get them into offices yet. ROY MADSEN: Exactly. Right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And they didn’t have even the most fundamental knowledge of some of the legal principals that they had to incorporate into their jobs and so somebody that they could relate to that would teach them like you, did tremendous things for the magistrate training system. I’ll tell you that.
ROY MADSEN: What I, when I went to Dillingham, they would announce on the radio that I was going to be there and I'd say, well, I’m going to be in town. If anybody has any problems that they want to discuss that deals with the judicial system, please let me know.
I’ll save time for you to talk to you. And so the people would come in and we’d chat and one amusing incident was a gentleman came in there one day and he says, I asked him what the problem was and he said, "well, its that magistrate."
And I said, "what’s the matter with him?" And he says, "well, he make me -- he made me take the pledge."
Have you ever heard of the pledge? This goes back to the early missionary days of the Russian Orthodox where if somebody had a drinking problem, the priest, they'd have to go before the priest and put their hand on the bible and swear that they weren’t going to drink and it would be for a week or a month or a year or three years.
And this fellow, the magistrate had done this and this fellow took the pledge. He took the pledge for a year and I said "well, has it worked?" And he said, "yes." I said, "well, what are you complaining about. If it worked, it kept you off the booze for a year, you should be thanking him, not criticizing him."
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, that Russian Orthodox spirit, you know. You swear something on the bible and he probably want to have a drink every day but he thought he would be struck down if he did. ROY MADSEN: That’s right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That is marvelous. I too enjoyed traveling around rural Alaska, you know. I did Selowik and Kiana and I loved Kotzebue. Bethel wasn’t one of my favorite places to go. ROY MADSEN: It was hard. It was hard.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: All these other places, Cold Bay and Dillingham, they seemed to have a soul, but Bethel didn’t seem to have a soul. It just was, it's always been hard in Bethel. There’s always been a lot of problems in Bethel. It is not a happy place. ROY MADSEN: No. No.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So, I probably shouldn’t have said that.
So, tell me more about your years on the bench. So, you’re doing all this traveling around and you’ve finally have a resident, we finally have a resident judge in Kodiak, that Kodiak had wanted for a long time. They must have been happier. Of course they were unhappy that you were on the road a lot, but at least they had their own judge.
How did that, in a sense, play in Kodiak, did they find peace finally that they had a judge that would stay there and wouldn't leave?
ROY MADSEN: Absolutely. I think it worked because we, you know, when I went on the bench, we also had our first district attorney. Before that Ward Elby used to come from Kenai about once a month or something like that to try cases.
And, or somebody would be coming over from Anchorage. But Bill Mackey was appointed and then he had an assistant and then we had the Alaska Legal Services who were defending people and eventually we got public defenders and so we had a full judicial system.
And it worked fine. It was surprisingly, actually I kept quite busy. I had, I don’t know whether you recall any of the numbers or anything, but I used to keep a log and I think I tried something like three dozen cases a year, 36, something like that.
Which wasn’t a heavy case load, but I guess something like seven hundred cases a year or something were filed in Kodiak when I was on the bench. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s a good number.
ROY MADSEN: It was a good number. Not only that, but, maybe you don’t remember, but when I was first appointed, they also, the court system dumped on me all the administrative appeals for limited entry. I had eighty or a hundred of those things.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I do seem to remember that now that you tell me. You have a better memory than I, I have to admit that. When you remind me of these things, I do remember. I remember when I came to your swearing in, we went to a cannery, alwo and I got a great crab plate.
ROY MADSEN: Well, this is how I eventually got a law clerk. I wasn’t entitled to one when I first went on the bench but I was dumped with all of these administrative appeals and with the other, my travel schedule and my regular case load, you know, I just couldn’t keep up with them.
But I had, my original law clerk was Brigitte McBride who was the magistrate and then eventually I got another one, Vern Halter who ran in the Iditarod for many years. He went from Kodiak out to Unalaska, I think, as a magistrate and then on.
And anyway, that was a big boost. And of course when I had waded through the eighty or a hundred limited entry appeals, then I started to get administrative appeals from other types of administrative agencies so I constantly had those things going all the time.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You were a godsend. You know, as you know, no judge likes administrative appeals to start with and as you also know, a lot of judges didn’t like to go out and travel in rural Alaska.
And you took on all assignments without complaint and you did them well and you served, you served the court system admirably. But you know that.
ROY MADSEN: Well, I enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really did, every aspect of being on the bench was enjoyable except some of the -- I had a triple homicide in Bethel one year and I had --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I was going to ask about some of your cases. ROY MADSEN: I had a triple homicide in Dillingham one year and double homicide in Kodiak and things like that.
But those were downers. But -- and the MacKay case. Of course, that here, you know, with all of the other things, I don’t know why I was chosen when they had nine sitting judges in Anchorage. And they appoint me to something like that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, it was, that was an interesting case, you must admit. ROY MADSEN: It was interesting, but I think I made some life-long enemies as a result of that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, I don't -- I don’t know that. I do know most of the judges in Anchorage said they had conflicts with this or that or the other thing. And you were just too accommodating, Roy. But I watched the McKay case closely, I thought it was. Obviously from a distance, watching that.
ROY MADSEN: It was very difficult because everything pointed to his guilt in the death of his wife. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right, but can’t prove it. ROY MADSEN: You couldn’t prove it.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right. ROY MADSEN: And so I had to assume that he was legitimately entitled to custody of his son until it was proven otherwise.
And it just, you know, the really unfortunate thing was that Bob Pfeil who was fighting for custody but never felt any anger or animosity towards me. He was always a gentleman and it was a sad thing to see him also be put away like his sister was.
And again, they were never ever to prove anything but the suspicions were there that is was --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, but her car blew up. You know. ROY MADSEN: Right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I think, well sidn’t he say he was in Hawaii at the time or something. I don’t really remember. It goes way back. The law was pretty clear. You can’t prove these things and you can’t prove he’s not a fit father and he probably loved his son. So, it was a difficult case, there’s no doubt about that.
ROY MADSEN: I don’t know if you remember or not, but when I would come over for hearings on that case, I was always asked to be, if I wanted a -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A police escort? ROY MADSEN: A police escort or nobody to know where I was supposed to be staying or something like that. I never felt like I was in danger,but obviously it was --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Now, there were a couple of times over the years that Ralph Moody who was given a police escort and once I was. There’s crazy people out there. ROY MADSEN: There really are.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You know. But, what other cases do you remember? That certainly is a barn burner, that case.
ROY MADSEN: Well, I had one of probably, one of the most significant cases that I handled was State of Alaska vs. American Eagle which was a case that went, it dealt with regulations regulating catch beyond the three mile limit.
And there was testimony that crab migrated back and forth and the State felt that they had to have some control over that. And this one vessel had been fishing and found to be fishing in a closed area and it was seized and posted a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar bond.
And when the case came to trial, the problem that this was legitimate for the state to regulate. And it went to the supreme court and the decision was upheld and then it went to the United States Supreme Court and they refused to accept it.
And I think this was, I think, probably one of the most significant cases and I was involved in. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Certainly to the state it was. For being able to control fisheries
ROY MADSEN: Another case involved the First Amendment freedom of speech case that I handled. It was Mickens vs. City of Kodiak, which was a topless dancer and I had ruled that the city had a legitimate power to deal with it because it was in a bar where they were trying to regulate the sale of alcohol and this was intended, you know, as an inducement to buy more drinks.
And of course, in the heyday, when the crab fishermen went rolling in the dough, and they were just tossing it. It could create a problem and I felt that they had a right to try and regulate that.
The supreme court saw otherwise and decided that this young lady was expressing her opinion, she wasn’t really dancing.
But in going through all of my paperwork here, I ran across a Bar Rag where apparently the supreme court had another case involving a topless dancer when Justice Compton was on the bench, but this one had to do with, I think she had been released from her position and she sued the bar.
And so it was an employment issue, not one of freedom of speech, but the supreme court in that case had to acknowledge that she was dancing to induce people to buy drinks. So I felt a little vindicated when I read that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I did -- I did note that judges are not supposed to really care. Like Ralph said, I’m ruling. Take it upstairs if you don’t like it. And he would move on to the next case.
But everybody does care. You invest yourself into the case and I often had judges, when I visited them, tell me about the terrible supreme court decisions that had been issued. People certainly do have a stake in their work, there's no doubt about that.
ROY MADSEN: I guess one of the other cases that I had too, that I thought was of some significance was a case involving a fisherman who was making -- here it is, here.
Hutcherson vs. State of Alaska where he was injured beyond the three mile limit and he made application for medical assistance under the fisherman’s fund and it was denied him and I ruled on that.
And I found that the law was unconstitutional because all the fishermen -- commercial fishermen contributed to this fund and I think eventually the law was amended to include fishermen whether they were within or without the three mile limit. It didn’t go to the supreme court. They just recognized it.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That you were right and they amended the law.
ROY MADSEN: And another case I had, I dismissed fifteen -- cases against fifteen crab fishermen from Washington state on the grounds that one of the regulations was unconstitutionally vague.
That they had, the state regulations open and close crab seasons, it said could be interpreted as extending across the sea to foreign shores and so I don’t think that -- they didn't take that up on appeal either.
Well, I guess they did. They said the state supreme court eventually supported the state position on the matter.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yeah, I would think that one would have gone up. ROY MADSEN: But, those are the ones I can recall.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, they -- they sound interesting. Your career was -- has been interesting. Your whole life has been interesting. I feel like I’ve done nothing. I mean, I sit here talking to you and you’ve done so much.
Now let’s get specific here and tell me what court-related special events you were involved in, committees or conferences. I know we were sending you out to rural Alaska all the time.
ROY MADSEN: Actually, I was only involved in one -- it was a committee to study guidelines for fish and game cases. I was on that with Judge Hornaday from Homer and the judge from Fairbanks and a couple of magistrates and we traveled to Homer and Dillingham, Kodiak and Fairbanks and Kenai. Places like that.
Had hearings to decide. I think there was some question of whether or not there was disparity in sentencing in fish and game cases and things like that.
And the court wanted to be sure that it was being -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Had guidelines. ROY MADSEN: -- addressed and was fair and that was about the only thing I was involved in when I was on the bench.
After I left the bench I was on the Supreme Court Committee on Fairness and Access for about, a little less than two years, I guess. And that was very interesting. That probably covered another of your question.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It may or may not be. You can feel free to address that whenever you want. Well obviously, you’ve been involved in your community. You set up the native regional corporation, you did all these things for the borough. Were there any other community or extra curricular activities that you -- that you participated in?
ROY MADSEN: Many, after I left the bench. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: What were they? I’m afraid to ask, almost.
ROY MADSEN: Well, let see, about six years ago, Governor Knowles appointed me to the Alaska Commission on -- for Human Rights. And so I served on that for about two years I guess. And that was a very interesting experience. Are you familiar with that commission at all? ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Uh-hum.
ROY MADSEN: People filed complaints on discrimination or other grounds and the staff makes a determination whether or not -- and then the person has a right to appeal.
And so if they appeal and the appeal is successful, it goes to the commission and they make a -- they have a hearing. It is like a trial.
But most of the cases don’t and so it turned out -- I think I was the only law trained commissioner on the group and so, guess what.
Every month or so I would get a box of, a fifteen or twenty pound box of appeals. It was like administrative appeals all over again.
And I'd have to read those things and decide whether or not they justified a hearing or whether the staff decision could be appealed. And so I would -- I spent hours and hours and hours working on those things, and --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You know that, most people wouldn’t have given the time they deserved and you did. And I think that speaks volumes to the kind of person you are, spending that kind of time and making those determinations. Because each one was important to the petitioner.
ROY MADSEN: Absolutely. And I think the attorney general recognized that and he appreciated my efforts along those lines. And that’s why I received so many of them. Because I was conscientious about dealing with them and I could handle them and get them back to him.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Let’s go back to the time you were on the bench. What did you find most satisfying with your judicial service? Was it the travel and the people or?
ROY MADSEN: The travel and the people, yes. I think so. I think, things -- where is it?
Things like this. This is a picture of an adoption I did and the people there. I came down off the bench to congratulate them and just earlier this month, I went in to vote in a municipal election and one of the people there.
One of the election personnel came up to me and said, remember I appeared before you. He and his wife were handling ballots and he said when we were adopting our son.
And he said you came down off the bench and shook our hands and congratulated us and he said I have never forgotten that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Wow, that is special. Very special. The impact we have on people’s lives, a simple gesture.
ROY MADSEN: Little things like that. And you don’t realize how much it means to the person.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I’m afraid to ask this next question although I’ll ask it anyway. What were the most frustrating parts of being on the bench?
ROY MADSEN: Well, believe it or not, it was probably the preemptory challenges. It bothered me because it took me away from my place and of course I always felt they were unjustified.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right. Well, they were ploys to gain time. Most of the time they had nothing to do with the judge. It was just a ploy.
ROY MADSEN: It did -- it did in one instance. I was trying a rape case and it wasn’t going well for the state. And the district attorney wanted a continuance.
And it had been going on for quite a long time and I asked him why and he said well, we’re going to call an expert witness. And I said where from. He said Arizona.
And I said why didn’t you call him sooner so that he could be here. Well, this just came up because of the evidence. I said, well, it doesn’t sound justified to me.
And so I didn’t think he had his heart into the case anyway and so finally he came to me and he said I’m doing this because the AG has asked me to do this and we’re really not intending to call this witness.
And I denied the request and after that, I got preempted by the state constantly. The DA was shipped out of Kodiak in exile. I thought this was really because he had been honest with me. It bothered him. And it was totally wrong but I thought, you know, after that --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, I wish, and maybe you did, but I wish if you didn’t, you would have brought that to my attention. Because it happened to other judges in other communities and I would go to the AG and I just tell him we can’t run a court system when I have to fly judges out there all the time.
You’ve got a problem, I want to know what it is and how it can be remedied. And generally we could straighten those things out over time. But that didn’t just happen to you, Roy.
It -- I was -- they were knocking judges off in Nome and in Bethel and I continually had to send people out and it wasn’t just the AG, it was the public defender in some cases because he thought they were sentencing too -- too strictly.
And I would have to go talk to the chief public defender and try to get it straightened out, so although --
ROY MADSEN: Yeah, I had the same problem with the public defender for a long time, until he moved on. And then it stopped. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right. ROY MADSEN: And I didn’t have that problem any more. So it would be personality conflict that created that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: But it did come up a lot and I would go talk -- I got along with the AGs pretty well. I knew them all well and I would go say you know, we’ve done a lot for you guys, helped you out here and there. I’ve helped you with your budget. You can’t keep doing this and he would call up the district DA and tell him to stop the practice.
So I mean, we were able to stop it. Not in all cases. Sometimes they would just say no, I’m not going to do it. But I didn’t like preemptory challenges either. I thought it really interfered with the operation of the court system. If you want to challenge for cause, challenge for cause.
ROY MADSEN: Absolutely, yes. They didn’t even have to do that. I knew when I had reason to recuse myself and I did.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, I’m glad when I asked you what the most frustrating thing was you didn’t say it was the administrative office anyway, Roy. So, I’m happy about that.
ROY MADSEN: Well, the other thing that bothered me, too was the bar polls. I always felt that, you know, that the opinions of the attorneys should be weighted by the number of times that they appear before a judge. It just shouldn’t be part of --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: They're a popularity contest. ROY MADSEN: Right. It shouldn’t be like that. That bothered me, too.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, those things can bother you. I mean, we all get our feelings hurt and when there is no real reason for it other than popularity contests or this or that. Some people that are rating you probably never appeared before you. ROY MADSEN: That’s right. That’s really bothersome.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It would be, it would be. Were there any particularly significant initiatives court system wise that you attempted to pursue?
ROY MADSEN: I did. When I went on the bench, after I had been on the bench for a short time in Kodiak, I drew up an order for an omnibus hearing.
Along, in accordance with the rules for criminal procedure and I did the same thing for misdemeanor cases and before that, you just had an omnibus hearing because it said that you had one.
This way, I'd have the attorneys there. I'd sign the order and they had to abide by it or a good reason not to, for a excusal or a delay. And this helped to eliminate delays or excuses and put them, it put the burden on the parties to comply with the rules of the speedy trial issue.
So it worked and I think they probably still use it there in Kodiak. I don’t know whether they ever adopted something like that here in Anchorage or not. But this was on my initiative. I did it there.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You know, generally those kinds of things do have a way of working into these other jurisdictions like into Anchorage and speeding things up other than -- I saw judges in Fairbanks come up with great ideas and you in Kodiak and elsewhere and we'd get them adopted in Anchorage.
Sometimes we got the answer that just because they do it that way in Anchorage, doesn’t mean we’re going to do it that way in Fairbanks. They had that running ego battle between Fairbanks and Anchorage.
ROY MADSEN: I think that Kodiak always had a reputation of being very efficiently run administratively. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It certainly did. ROY MADSEN: I can claim some of the credit for that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: What were the main strengths of the Alaska judicial system that you observed when you were on the bench?
ROY MADSEN: Well, I think the strengths are in the unified court system, definitely. That and of course the method of judicial selection. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Merit selection. ROY MADSEN: Merit selection, yes, those are the strengths.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I certainly couldn’t agree with you more on that. I -- they're still running for election in Oregon. Not, you know -- ROY MADSEN: That bothered me and it still bothers me.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well we had one case where the circuit court seat -- the governor appointed a woman to fill in temporarily and now she was going to run for the main seat and a challenger waited until the last day and then filed against her and challenged her residency because she knew she had left the state and hadn’t been there for three years.
So by doing this, the challenger was the only one on the ballot and fourteen out of the seventeen judges on the bench there have now backed a write-in candidate.
ROY MADSEN: Is that right? ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I won't win, but it is just a protest about the way, you know, the underhanded thing this person did. They knew she didn’t have the qualifications, they should have told her well in advance rather than wait until the last day and file your own name and then challenge her.
ROY MADSEN: Right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: So, that’s the kind of stuff you see in elections. And you don’t see here. The non-partisanship of judges here is wonderful. There has been just about no corruption in the Alaska court system.
It sets an example for the entire country and it is people like you that made the court system that great example. I was able to get money from the legislature because, really, although they got mad at judges, they knew they worked hard and they cared and they did a good job and they weren’t political.
ROY MADSEN: You did a fantastic job along those lines and I appreciate that. In my retirement, certainly made my retirement a lot easier.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Mine also. What do you think the main weaknesses of the Alaska court system is?
ROY MADSEN: Weaknesses? I think I’ve touched on those, the preemptory challenge and the bar polls.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Okay. And I think those are good points to take and I, you know, I think they’ve dealt with them in the past, but they haven’t dealt with them well. The supreme court, those issues have been brought to them.
And it's very difficult to balance rights in these areas. But they know putting on their administrative hat, how hard it is in single judge locations. It’s not that bad to have a preemptory challenge in Anchorage because --
ROY MADSEN: Well, I always felt that they didn’t have as good a handle on that, the understanding of single judge positions as they could have and I think that I always felt that they didn’t get that much sympathy from my colleagues in the Anchorage bar or the place where there are numerous judges.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right. ROY MADSEN: They didn’t recognize the problems that you run into. And I think it would have been a good thing to have like a rural judges symposiums and gatherings so that you could talk common problems and try and address them and maybe come to some solutions.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Or have a session at the annual judicial conference where the rural judges can get together. ROY MADSEN: Yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I'll mention that to Director Cole. I think that’s a great idea. And I recognized the problems single judges had because I was the one who had to go find another judge to go out there and try these cases when they were across districts.
Because -- I couldn’t really order them, though the supreme court gave me authority to send judges out, other judges out if they agreed. Now, seldom when I called them up and said can you do this would they say no.
And if they did say no, I went and asked the chief justice to sign an order if we absolutely had to have it. But judges were pretty good about helping out. I thought. In this system, that the men and women in this court system, I thought were fairly collegiate.
ROY MADSEN: Well, maybe I didn’t have as great an appreciation for the judges in Anchorage and Fairbanks as I could have because of the kinds of case loads that they had compared to those in the single judge locations. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that they don’t have any sympathy for the outlying areas.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It's possible. If you could change one thing in the justice system, not just the court system, the justice system of this state, what would it be?
ROY MADSEN: Access to the courts from the rural areas. There’s got to be a better way. It just isn’t a fair playing field as far as when you get out into real, I’m talking about real rural areas.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, it is difficult. There’s no doubt about that. It is difficult to get the public defender and DA to go out there.
ROY MADSEN: Right. I don’t know how many cases I had out in the St. Paul area that fell through because the parties just weren’t willing to go out there and try the case.
That’s a long way to go and it's a commitment to get out there. You know, you don’t know how long you’re going to be stuck because of weather and something like that. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right or whether you were even going to get in.
ROY MADSEN: Another problem. Since I’ve been off the bench, I was communicating with an attorney here in Anchorage who was handling a case involving the requirement of minors seeking abortions.
And one of the things that we were talking about was the fact that in the rural areas the minor could get consent, if a judge would sign it, but when you are out there in the bush and there is only one telephone in the community and the person has to call a judge in Anchorage, everybody in town knows and it's things like that.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And people don’t think about that. ROY MADSEN: They don’t think about. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: No, you're right. In all the years I was here, that issue never crossed my mind. But you are right. There are many towns I’ve been in had one phone.
ROY MADSEN: That’s right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A very public place and people always around. And to have any type of private conversation was, and especially one that had such high stakes as an abortion or something like that that was so personal. ROY MADSEN: Right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: What do you think should be the role of tribal courts?
ROY MADSEN: You know, I’ve thought a lot about that and under our unified court system that we have here, I just don’t see how it can work.
But I was thinking that in the juvenile justice system, they have youth courts and I was thinking possibly we could have something like optional courts where the people in the smaller communities and the tribes could adjudicate things if they didn’t involve criminal penalties.
It would have to be something where there was no jail time involved. It may be like community service or something like that or working.
But it would be, I think you'd have to call it an optional court because you are not a -- it would be outside the court system. People would have to establish it themselves and appoint the people that are going to serve on those things. And it just wouldn’t fit inside the unified court system.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It certainly wouldn’t under the law unless the DA said I’m not gonna file a case, I’m going to handle this informally. And then they could do that.
ROY MADSEN: Right. And then, right. Then it would take some kind of legislation to create something like that, but I think it's something that could be done.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, we do have comity in adoption now, with the tribal courts. They are, certainly deference is given to tribal courts in the adoption area. ROY MADSEN: Yes.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And I think what you're suggesting is probably a very good way to foster what we’ll call local dispute resolution. Something of that type on the civil and quasi-criminal side. ROY MADSEN: Right.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A lot of that rests in the hands of the DA because they file a case. Now it’s in the system and the constitutions pretty clear. But, I agree with you. They could informally handle it outside that. I think that’s a very good suggestion.
ROY MADSEN: People would be glad to be relieved of pursuing things in the rural areas, if it was removed.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, you know, things have gotten better in a sense in the justice -- at least in my view, we have at least established a rim of courts from Kotzebue to Barrow to Nome to Bethel, to Dillingham, and you know.
But so many of the small areas in between, and I don’t know the way you feel about this, but I remember in the old days that most of the magistrates we appointed were native people that were very well respected in their communities
and it seems to me that over the years they’ve gone to appointing more law trained people and I don’t think that’s as effective as appointing local people.
ROY MADSEN: It just creates problems when you have somebody who has that kind of background and training. They are always looking to the legal approach and what would be passed for legal standards and that made me think back to territorial days, you know.
And some times you think back on those days and we have so much more now. But there were ways of dealing with problems and I don’t know whether you ever heard of the situation where if you had an undesirable in town, they gave them a green ticket.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A one way ticket out of there. ROY MADSEN: Right. Too bad that they can’t deal with a problem like that. And I think some of the villages tried that. Like they banned people and they used to do that in the remote areas. They'd drive them out of town. But the legal system won’t let them do it.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: It gets rid of the problem for you, but the problem is going to end up on somebody else’s doorstep.
ROY MADSEN: That’s right. But they used to even buy the ticket for them and say get out of here. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I remember that. But I also remember going out once, Sadie Naeakok or Nora Guinn or some of these people dealing with problems informally, you know, and beautifully and I remember when I first came out of the 77 magistrate locations, 58 people were working off their kitchen tables.
We’ve probably got them all into offices over the years. But the fact is, I don’t know if it was all bad working off your kitchen table. The people knew you and so on and so forth. I think it added a little when we could get them some office space. But they performed very admirably.
ROY MADSEN: There was a period of time, I think it was in Barrow, where they handcuffed the guy to a fireplace.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Right, right, they did do that. And then I got some money to build a courthouse in Barrow and Frank Ferguson really wanted it.
And so I got the money and I had an agreement with Governor Hammond’s office that nothing that was ours was going to be vetoed until they talked to us.
Well, they didn’t realize it was ours and it was because of this incident you’re talking about. He vetoed it because he was mad at Frank and I went ballistic and I just said we won’t be trying any more cases in Barrow and you can tell the people in Barrow why people are going to be flown into Fairbanks for cases.
And so his office came up with money to rent new space. But and it was, we spent millions over the years to rent space when we could have built a building for five million bucks back then. Because he was mad at Frank Ferguson and somebody forgot to check it out, Barrow really got short changed. These things happen in life.
ROY MADSEN: Yeah. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Roy, thank you very very much. It was a delightful two hours.
ROY MADSEN: I enjoyed it. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, so did I. I learned a lot and I’ve never heard of anybody who’s worked as hard as you in my life.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Roy, I really forgot to ask you and almost have been afraid to since you did so much while and before you worked for the judiciary. What have you been doing since you retired?
ROY MADSEN: Well, in addition to having served on the Human Rights Commission, I’ve also been involved in an organization, I helped create a multi-cultural committee in Kodiak and I have been involved in the, I don’t know if you ever saw the exhibit, the looking both ways,
that had dealt with examining the Alutiiq heritage and it traveled throughout the state and down in the Lower 48.
And I was involved in an organization of native educators of the Alutiiq region. And there is a national science foundation grant that was granted to investigate creating curriculums for, putting in the native ways of learning and their knowledge into different classes.
And so I’ve help create a curriculum for some of the local schools to do that. And just generally things like that. I’ve been quite active in giving talks and to elders conferences, one called "the wisdom keepers" and different groups like that. This is a picture of me at one of those symposiums.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: A lot of the native culture has been passed on down word of mouth. ROY MADSEN: Yes, exactly.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And some people have been trying to get it in written form or recorded so it wouldn’t be lost. Have you been involved in any of those types of efforts?
ROY MADSEN: Yes. I have been in, most of the things that I’ve been involved in have been. There is one ceremony every spring called Awakening Bear that deals with the passage of winter and I’ve been the master of ceremonies of that and different things like that. And my background in my guiding business of course has helped a lot. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Yes.
ROY MADSEN: I think one of the things that I have here is a picture of me with another old time guide. This is probably tells the story about my activities here. Its called -- the publication here called The Kodiak Daily Mirror, 1984.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Hunting Clothes to Judicial Robe. ROY MADSEN: Right. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Marvelous.
ROY MADSEN: And lets see here, this is the only picture I have here of myself. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: In full dress garb. ROY MADSEN: Right. And this is a picture of myself with my children.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Well, Roy, you’re gonna leave those with us aren’t you so we can get some of that stuff copied off. This is invaluable material.
ROY MADSEN: This is a picture at my retirement. I had a wonderful retirement dinner in Kodiak. Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody from the court system was there. But I had maybe 300 people from the community show up and this Anna Moran. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: What was the date of that retirement?
ROY MADSEN: September of, I think it was September or October of 1990. And -- ARTHUR SNOWDEN: I can’t imagine that no one from the court system was there to be honest with you. I’m trying to think back why I wasn’t there, for example. With everything you’ve done for us the presiding judge of the third district. I formally apologize.
ROY MADSEN: Let’s see. This is a picture. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s a great picture. ROY MADSEN: And another picture of me in my --
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Nice fish. Person who can fillet a good fish is a great person.
ROY MADSEN: This is a picture of myself and my dear wife that you probably know, Linda. And this is a family photograph here. Brothers, sisters and nieces, nephews, grandchildren.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Have you identified any of that on the back? ROY MADSEN: No, just the Madsen family. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Okay, well that’s a start.
ROY MADSEN: Married, I’ve done quite a few ceremonies. This is another picture of my son and two of my daughters at my retirement banquet.
These are four of my daughters and a granddaughter.
And this is a picture of myself and my oldest son. A picture of myself and my youngest son who is now deceased.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You’ve got some fine memories. Good picture.
ROY MADSEN: I’m still pretty active. I do a lot of fishing. I have a boat that I bought. As a matter of fact, about two months ago I was out. I go out trolling and usually by myself because when I decide I want to go fishing, I’m out there at the last moment.
And I went out and I caught a forty pound king salmon and it just about did me in. I have two bad hips and I don’t have the upper body strength that I used to. And it took everything that I had to get that fish into the boat.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: That’s one of the things I miss the most about not living here anymore, the fishing. I loved to go out and be alone and do the fishing. Is there any concluding thoughts you have Roy, that -- to sum up your experience with the system?
ROY MADSEN: Oh, here’s one. A picture of Lori Wade when she was a magistrate there when I swore her in as a magistrate, I guess that's it.
ARTHUR SNOWDEN: You’re a good man. ROY MADSEN: Thank you. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: And we thank you for everything that you’ve done for this institution. ROY MADSEN: Thank you. ARTHUR SNOWDEN: Thank you, Cameron.