Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Dario Borghesan to the Alaska Supreme Court on July 1, 2020. Borghesan succeeded Justice Craig Stowers, who retired on June 1, 2020. Borghesan is Dunleavy’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.
Under Alaska law, state supreme court justices are appointed by the governor from a list of two or more nominees compiled by the Alaska Judicial Council. Newly appointed judges serve an initial term of at least three years, after which the justice must stand for retention in an uncontested yes-no election to remain on the bench. Subsequent terms last ten years. To remain on the bench, Borghesan must run for retention in 2024.
Before his appointment to the Alaska Supreme Court, Borghesan was the supervising attorney of the Alaska Department of Law’s civil appeals section. He previously served as special assistant to the attorney general (2009-2010) and assistant attorney general handling civil appeals (2010-2018). He was a law clerk to Justice Daniel Winfree on the state supreme court from 2008 to 2009.
Borghesan obtained a B.A., magna cum laude, from Amherst College in 2002. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was Order of the Coif, in 2008. From 2002 to 2004, Borghesan served in the Peace Corps in Togo, Africa.
The Alaska Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Alaska. As of July 2020, three justices were appointed by a Republican governor and one justice was appointed by an independent governor.
In 2020, there have been 16 supreme court vacancies across 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 16 vacancies, 11 are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Four vacancies occurred in a state where a Republican governor fills vacancies. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.