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Begich Praises Choice of Justice Morgan Christen for 9th Circuit


Senator Recommends Christen to President as Court's First Alaska Woman

Praising her compassion and sound judgment as a judge, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today welcomed President Obama's nomination of Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen for a vacancy on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Begich recommended Justice Christen for the opening on the 9th Circuit created by last year's retirement of Judge Andrew Kleinfeld of Fairbanks.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she will be the first Alaska woman to serve on the 9th Circuit.

"I have known Morgan for years as one of Alaska's sharpest lawyers and most compassionate judges," Begich said. "Starting as an intern in the Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor's Office through her service on Alaska's highest court, Justice Christen has built a well-deserved reputation for fairness, thoroughness and sound professional judgment."

"I am grateful for her work with me as Anchorage's mayor to combat crime and youth violence in our state's largest city," the senator said. "The President and the country will benefit from her work on the important 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which handles so many cases vital to Alaska."

Christen earned her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1986 and was admitted to the Alaska Bar where she worked on complex civil litigation at Preston, Gates & Ellis. In 2001, then Gov. Tony Knowles named her to the Alaska Superior Court and she became presiding judge in 2005. In March 2009, she was named to the Supreme Court by then Gov. Sarah Palin.

Christen has been recognized for her extensive public service by the Chamber of Commerce's Athena Society and she was named Alaska Philanthropist of the Year in 2004 with her husband Jim Torgerson.

Justice Christen's nomination for the 9th Circuit now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration and then to the full Senate for confirmation.

White House presss release follows...

President Obama Nominates Justice Morgan Christen for the United States Court of Appeals
WASHINGTON- Today, President Obama nominated Justice Morgan Christen for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

"I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States Court of Appeals," said President Obama.  "I am confident Justice Morgan Christen will serve the American people with integrity and distinction."

Justice Morgan Christen:  Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Justice Morgan Christen was born and raised in the state of Washington.  She attended the University of Washington, where she received her B.A. in 1983.  While an undergraduate student, Justice Christen studied in England, Switzerland, and China.  She later attended Golden Gate University School of Law and obtained her J.D. in 1986.

Justice Christen moved to Alaska in 1986, when she began a clerkship for the Honorable Brian Shortell of the Alaska Superior Court.  In 1987, she joined the law firm of Preston Thorgrimson Ellis & Holman (now K&L Gates LLP) in their Anchorage office.  While at the law firm, Justice Christen handled a variety of civil matters, including representation of the State of Alaska in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  In 1992, she was elected to the firm's partnership.

In 2001, Justice Christen was appointed to the Alaska Superior Court, the state trial court with jurisdiction over, among other things, civil cases, family law and probate matters, and felony criminal offenses.  Beginning in 2005, she served as the presiding judge of Alaska's Third Judicial District, the judicial district with the largest caseload in the state.  As presiding judge, Justice Christen supervised approximately 40 judicial officers in 13 court locations.  In 2009, Justice Christen was elevated to serve as one of five Justices on Alaska's Supreme Court, the highest court in the state. 

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