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December 20, 2014

Is Pozonsky Eligible for AK Bar?

Paul Pozonsky

This past weekend, Shannyn Moore broke an important story in the Opnion Section of the Anchorage Daily News. She revealed that Governor Sean Parnell hired a new hearing officer for the Workers’ Compensation Board…Paul Pozonsky, a former judge from Pennsylvania.

…a “former judge” who was stripped of his ability to hear criminal cases in Pennsylvania this past June and immediately resigned.

Jeanne Devon followed-up with a fascinating back-story showing the family connections that give the Pozonsky’s influence over some of the most powerful individuals in Alaska, past and present.

Both articles raise many questions as to the circumstances surrounding Mr. Pozonsky’s appointment.

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.

I have never seen that in my 36 years in the legal profession,” said O’Dell Seneca, who declined to say why she removed Pozonsky from criminal court, where he presided over a drug-treatment court among other cases. “The procedure is that the District Attorney’s Office or Attorney General’s Office files a petition with the court asking to destroy the evidence.”

According to criminal complaints, the evidence in some of the cases included crack and powder cocaine, heroin, marijuana and at least $2,000 in cash.

That sounds like serious disciplinary action to me.

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. I contacted the main Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, The Criminal Prosecution Division, The Judicial Conduct Board, The Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel as well as other legal professionals. No one either had information for me or could legally give me any information.

However, I did discover that the articles written about Pozonsky’s new Alaska adventures are being read down there with great interest.

I hope the Alaska Bar Association has better luck.

(If you want to share your concerns about Mr. Paul Pozonsky’s possible admission, contact the Alaska Bar Association )

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Comments
9 Responses to “Is Pozonsky Eligible for AK Bar?”
  1. Celia Harrison says:

    They do allow attorneys who have had disciplinary issues in other states to become licensed attorneys in Alaska. I found this out by checking backgrounds of some PDs. All of the boards of licensing however make some very interesting choices at times and there is some shady business. They allow some with particular religious and political leanings with issues while denying others with the same issues, they demonize some who have issues while completely ignoring that others do. I suspect Paul Pozonsky was given a job to get some experience in Alaska to be placed in a high level position. Why did they think no one would notice? There has been some similar evidence destruction with the APD even against a court order and I have had law enforcement destroy evidence when asked to preserve it. So, Pozonsky would fit in well here. No one takes the destruction of evidence out of the normal channels unless there is a reason to hide something.

  2. tigerwine says:

    Oh, Alaska. To quote Ronald Reagan “There you go again”.

  3. ugavic says:

    Have to parrot Rocky Missouri and add let’s hope all this light shining on such a mess will make the fungi curl up and go away.

    This is just nuts to see happen again and again. For all the conservative population in the state you would think they would be upset when a crook is getting something they don’t deserve, but maybe once you drape it in the flag of Jesus it is then OK.

  4. Slant the News says:

    Ask Senator Hollis French…he is a retired DA of Anchorage…call his office…send him emails…he will respond!

    • Cochi says:

      My Fav. quote:For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whneveer you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. ~The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  5. mike from iowa says:

    If this tool is hired already then what would be the purpose of joining the Bar? Seems like dumbass dubya’s administration all over. Fill the position and then find ways to circumvent any opposition. No offense to the good folks of Alaska,but there diesn’t seem to be a groundswell of opposition to Herr Parnell’s skullduggery.

    • AKblue says:

      Mike, many of us are worn to the bone from outrage after outrage. The mayor, the gov, the assembly, the Repub party leader, our US Senator who signed the Grover pledge, among other things, the exhalfgov, the Baptist and fundamentalists who talk Christian and ignore ethics and decency. It goes on and on and on…..

  6. Wow…! Great job, Shannyn, Jeanne and Linda….!!! Thank you…

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  1. […] This story broke my column for the Anchorage Daily News last Sunday and was followed up by posts from Jeanne Devon and Linda Kellen Biegel. […]



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