Current Issue

  • Volume 32,
  • Number 2 -
  • December 2015

Note From the Editor
Iuniki L. Ikahihifo-Bender


"A System Appallingly out of Balance": Morgan v. State and the Rights of Defendants and Victims in Sexual Assault Prosecutions
Daniel E. Doty

In a series of three cases that culminate with Morgan v. State, Alaska’s courts established a unique protection for defendants in sexual assault cases. This protection, which allows such defendants to attack their victims in court with previous reports of sexual assault that did not result in prosecution, is not afforded to defendants in other cases and is based on a dubious “general principle” that the credibility of sexual assault victims has “special relevance.” The protection is problematic in several ways: it is grounded in erroneous stereotypes about the victims of sex crimes; it is detrimental to victims and the pursuit of truth; it is inconsistent with traditional rules of evidence; and it is unnecessary to protect the rights of defendants. For these reasons, this protection for defendants in sexual assault cases should be abrogated by legislative action as proposed herein.

From Accession to Exemption: A Brief History of the Development of Alaska Property Exemption Laws
Eric H. Miller

This Article examines the historical development of Alaska’s debtor protections from their beginnings in the period of initial federal administration to the present. The current Alaska statutes protecting certain property of debtors from their creditors descended from policies first enacted by Congress. Although federal authority began in 1867 with the area’s acquisition from Russia, Congress did not provide for governmental administration in Alaska until 1884, which act also provided Alaska its first debtor protection statutes. Extension of the federal Homestead Act to Alaska in 1898 brought the first protections for settlers’ homesteads from their creditors. By 1912 and the creation of the territorial government, Congress had set the basic structure of debtor protection in Alaska. Unlike those states which insisted historically on placing certain debtor protections within their constitutions, public policy in Alaska has deemed statutory structures adequate to protect a debtor’s interests.

Ravin Revisited: Alaska's Historic Common Law Marijuana Rule at the Dawn of Legalization
Jason Brandeis

For the past forty years, Alaska has had one of the most unique marijuana laws in the United States. Under the Ravin Doctrine, adults in Alaska could use and possess a small amount of marijuana in their homes for any personal purpose. That common law rule, grounded in the Alaska Constitution’s explicit right of privacy, was effectively codified in November 2014 when Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2: “An act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana.” Measure 2 ushered in a new era of marijuana regulation, adding Alaska to the short list of states that permit the retail sale and use of recreational marijuana. This Article begins a discussion of this next phase of marijuana regulation in Alaska. The Article starts with a brief history of Alaska marijuana law prior to Measure 2, then summarizes the adoption and implementation of the ballot measure, including listing the marijuana-related activities now permitted, reviewing the ongoing process of developing a statewide regulatory framework, and describing the federal government’s response to state-level marijuana legalization. The Article concludes with an analysis of the relationship between Measure 2 and the Ravin Doctrine, identifying new issues raised by the process of ballot initiative-led statutory legalization and finding that although Measure 2 did not clear up all of the previous grey areas surrounding marijuana regulation in Alaska, it was a significant step towards reconciling the Ravin Doctrine with Alaska’s criminal marijuana laws.


Alaska: North to the Future of Federal Marijuana Regulation
Angela Macdonald

The personal freedom Alaskans not only expect, but rely upon, exposes a significant need for federal cooperation in the reformation of marijuana laws, including the removal or reclassification of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This Comment summarizes this issue in light of Alaska’s recent recreational marijuana legalization. In doing so, elements unique to Alaska and their likely influence on the state’s upcoming marijuana legislation; the history and evolution of Alaska marijuana laws; and the scholarly literature on Alaska marijuana law regarding the tensions between federal and state marijuana regulation are discussed. This Comment proposes that marijuana be removed from the Controlled Substance Act and that the federal government take a page out of Alaska’s book in setting up a new marijuana regulatory system by shifting oversight of marijuana regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Such a solution could provide for consistency among the continuing emergence of state recreational marijuana laws while still allowing each state to properly police itself on the basis of its unique needs.


Breaking Bad Law: Meth Lab Investigations Highlight Alaska's Current Approach to Privacy
Victoria Sheets

The right to privacy explicitly provided by the Alaska Constitution has long been broadly interpreted—even protecting Alaskan citizens’ right to personal home use and possession of marijuana. Though this right to privacy has been interpreted many times over the last few decades, Alaska currently lacks a coherent approach to application of its privacy laws. As the prevalence of methamphetamine production increases in homes across Alaska, the Alaskan courts’ approach to privacy must be reevaluated in light of its delicate interaction with search and seizure policies surrounding methamphetamine labs.

Alaska and Vergara v. California: Evaluating the Constitutionality of Teacher Tenure in Alaska
M. Rebecca Cooper

In the summer of 2013, California’s teacher tenure statutes were found to violate the equal protection clause of the state’s Constitution. The statutes called for tenure to be granted after two years of teaching, contained significant due process protections in case of dismissal, and required that new hires be laid off before teachers with tenure. The group that brought the lawsuit, Students Matter, is considering filing lawsuits in other states. This Note examines Alaska’s tenure statutes to assess the state’s vulnerability to a copycat lawsuit. While most of Alaska’s tenure statutes seem safe from challenge, the state should evaluate its tenure system to determine if it is leading to the best outcome for students.