A judge under fire wrote this past summer why he wants to retain his job

Published: Sep. 24, 2018 at 3:09 PM AKDT
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A Facebook campaign to stop an Anchorage Superior Court Judge from retaining his seat continues to grow, now up to almost 3,000 people.

This past Wednesday, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey sentenced 34-year-old former air-traffic controller Justin Scott Schneider to no immediate time behind bars after approving a plea deal that dismissed a kidnapping charge and involved a conviction only on second-degree assault.

Schneider was charged with offering a woman a ride and then tackling her, choking her until she became unconscious, then masturbating on her. Previous reports say the women felt like she was going to die.

This past June the Alaska Judicial Council recommended that Judge Corey retain his position and Corey said the job has been the most challenging and most rewarding of his career.

In his letter to the council the judge wrote: "For more than three years I have dedicated myself to becoming the best judicial officer possible. Every day, I strive to perpetuate the integrity and credibility of our judiciary. I am grateful that my placement in this position has been well received by most of who I come into contact. My goal is to be the type of judge before whom I once preferred to appear. I recognize that I will never reach perfection. However, such is my goal."

Before a recommendation, the Alaska Judicial Council asks numerous people, including lawyers, law enforcement, clerks and juries, about their experiences with the judge who's up for retention.

The judge's recommendation is based on the judge's legal ability, temperament, integrity, diligence and fairness.

"If the council decides, based on all the information, that the judge has met that, then the council makes a 'yes' recommendation," Susanne DiPietro, the executive director for the Alaska Judicial Council said, "and that is what the council did."

Judges are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with five being an excellent rating. Most of Judge Corey's numbers are 4s or 5s.

Still, the Department of Law heard from a number of people that the sentence imposed was too lenient. Criminal Division Director John Skidmore independently reviewed the case and concluded the sentence was consistent with, and reasonable, under current sentencing laws in Alaska.

"Though it is understandable that some feel his sentence was not sufficiently harsh," Skidmore said in a news release, "all prosecutors are ethically required to follow the law, no matter how disturbing the facts may be."

Skidmore's office wrote in that same news release that "contact with bodily fluid such as semen is not categorized as a sex crime under Alaska law."

This week during an update to the Public Safety Action Plan, Gov. Bill Walker says he will release legislation that makes causing unwanted contact with semen a sex offense. The penalty for a first-time offense carries jail time of 2 to 12 years and requires registration as a sex offender.

Channel 2 requested to speak with Judge Corey Monday morning but was told that because of the rules of judicial ethics, the judge is not giving interviews about his recent decision and he is also not speaking about his retention election at this time.