ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Alaska voters decided on Tuesday not to retain Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey, whose term will now end in February.
A campaign against Corey emerged in late September after the controversial sentencing of 34-year-old Justin Scott Schneider to no jail time after he choked a woman until she was unconscious and masturbated on her, with many calling the sentence far too lenient.
Prosecutors say the issue is with state law which currently doesn't consider the act a sex crime.
Department of Law 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 wrote in a September statement. "All prosecutors are ethically required to follow the law, no matter how disturbing the facts may be."
As a result of the case, Gov. Bill Walker proposed legislation that, if passed, would make unwanted contact with semen a sex offense. The penalty for a first-time offense would carry a sentence of between 2 to 12 years in prison and require anyone convicted to register as a sex offender.
Susanne DiPietro, the executive director of the Alaska Judicial Council, says she doesn't want this vote to affect future decisions made by judges, and she hopes voters will consider who they would want as the head of a courtroom.
"If they were in court, they would want a judge who was paying attention to you and your case," Dipietro said. "You would not want a judge who was looking over his or her shoulder wondering if they were going to keep their job if they made a certain decision."
DiPietro says the process to fill the empty bench will get underway within the next few months.
Corey's ouster is only the second time in Alaska's history that a judge was not retained by voters. The first time was in the early 1960s.