Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Did "Judge" Paul Pozonsky Slip Through the Alaska Media Radar? - Part Four: Is Pozonsky Even Eligible for the Alaska Bar?

Hugging Linda at Occupy Anchorage
Linda Kellen Biegel asks this question at The Mudflats, as we enter day six of the strange blackout of information in Alaska's legacy media about what appears to have been either an inappropriate or illegal hire of discredited, out-of-state former judge, Paul Pozonsky, to a high-paying legal post in the Sean Parnell administration.

The story broke late Saturday, when the Anchorage Daily News published Shannyn Moore's weekly op-ed, an article titled How does a Pennsylvania ex-judge under investigation land an Alaska job?  Moore's editorial now has garnered 398 comments, and is the only published article by the Alaska media so far on this Parnell hire, for whom it appears state personnel rules were breached to accommodate.

On Monday, Jeanne Devon published an article, Parnell Hiring Scandal leads back to Dyson, Kopp, Palin, at The Mudflats.  Devon traced the "judge's" links to Alaska GOP politicians tied to the Palin and Parnell administrations.

On Wednesday, writing at The Mudflats, Linda Kellen Biegel published an article titled Is Pozonsky Eligible for AK Bar?  Here are a couple of the highlights:

A large issue of interest for me is Mr. Pozonsky’s legal status. As of August, he applied for membership to the Alaska Bar Association, which commonly takes about six months. According to Alaska Statute, a candidate for hearing officer must have been “admitted to practice law for at least two years immediately before the appointment.” While it says nothing specific about those two prior years being in the State of Alaska, one can assume that holding the hearing officer position requires an eventual membership in the Bar Association of the state in which the hearings are being held. 
So. what if it is determined that the candidate is not eligible for membership to the Alaska Bar? 
Rule #2 of the Alaska Bar Rules lists the eligibility requirements for membership to the Alaska Bar Association. Titled “Eligibility for Examination,” it gives education, age and application requirements as well as a list of items that would be considered a “cause for further inquiry”…things you might expect like: criminal convictions (other than traffic violations), academic misconduct, false statements, dishonest acts, etc…However, it was number 10 that caught my attention as being applicable to this particular case: 
(10) disciplinary action by an attorney disciplinary agency, other professional disciplinary agency or any governmental or administrative agency of any jurisdiction. 
According to the Pennsylvania papers, you might say he was subject to disciplinary action: 
Pozonsky resigned June 29 after 14 years on the bench, and a month after county President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca removed him from hearing criminal cases after she learned of the evidence destruction [in 16 drug cases from 1998 to 2011]. He earned $169,541 annually.
The Alaska Bar Rules go on to say that consideration should be given to certain issues when “assigning weight and significance to prior conduct or condition.”

These issues include:
– the recency of the conduct or condition;
– the seriousness of the conduct or condition;
– the circumstances surrounding the conduct or condition
Since the “conduct” happened in June 2012, was serious enough to have Pozonsky removed from criminal cases, and probably caused his resignation, I’d say this should be enough to give the Alaska Bar Association pause.
The issue that troubles me the most is whether there is proof that the “destruction of evidence” actually occurred or did that evidence just disappear? Since the “evidence” was illegal and expensive drugs as well as cash, that’s an important piece of information to have before giving someone another position in the field of law.

A reader emailed me, asking why I'm just posting excerpts from other Alaskan bloggers' articles on Pozonsky, rather than doing my own research.

I replied that it would be fine if I had that luxury of time, while teaching three university courses (I start giving finals today), performing in local music ensembles, fulfilling the obligations of a musical composition fellowship and being involved with a complete rebuild of the heating and plumbing core of our house under semi-emergency conditions.

What drives me to this story is the lack of attention it is getting in our Alaska media, as much as the strange story itself.

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