Alaska Delegation Introduces Bill to Name Anchorage Federal Courthouse

The late Judge James M. Fitzgerald to be honored and remembered

In an effort to recognize his decades of service to Alaska and the country, the Alaska Congressional Delegation has introduced legislation to name the federal courthouse in Anchorage after the late Judge James M. Fitzgerald. Judge Fitzgerald served Alaska from 1959 to 2006 on the first Alaska Superior Court bench, on the Alaska Supreme Court, and on the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.

“Judge Fitzgerald was one of the finest jurists ever to serve the people of Alaska and the United States,” Begich said. “Not only was he a master in the courtroom, he was widely respected by his colleagues and known to be remarkably humble, thoughtful and kind. I am honored to introduce legislation that will help Alaskans remember his legacy forever.”

“Naming the Anchorage Courthouse in memory of James Fitzgerald is but a small token of Alaska’s appreciation for an individual who was present at the birth of our state and dedicated the next 50 years of his life to its service,” said Murkowski. “Fitz held virtually every position of significance in Alaska’s legal community during his extraordinary career - Assistant US Attorney, Anchorage Municipal Attorney, Counsel to Governor Egan, Commissioner of Public Safety, Superior Court Judge, Alaska Supreme Court Judge, US District Court Judge. A World War II veteran who left college and varsity football twice to defend his country his lifelong commitment to service and sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.”

“Judge Fitzgerald was an honorable man and represents the best of Alaska in its earliest years as a state,” said Rep. Young. “From his service to his country as a Marine in World War II to the time he served on the state’s highest court, Judge Fitzgerald always put his country and state first. I look forward to working with our Senators to see this bill passed.”

“The Fitzgerald family is deeply grateful to the people of Alaska and Alaska's Congressional delegation for bestowing this great honor on the late Judge Fitzgerald.  The name, the James M. Fitzgerald Federal Courthouse, will serve as a living reminder of Judge Fitzgerald's enduring commitment to the rule of law and justice for all,” said Debra Fitzgerald, Judge Fitzgerald’s daughter.

The decision to introduce legislation naming the courthouse after Judge Fitzgerald comes after the delegation received a recommendation from the Alaska Federal Courthouse Naming Committee. The committee, convened by Senator Begich, met to study and consider providing recommendations concerning the naming of federal courthouse facilities across Alaska. Ultimately, the committee decided only to suggest the naming of the federal courthouse in Anchorage.

The committee, made up of attorney Lloyd Miller, Judge John D. Roberts, Juneau Mayor and attorney Bruce Botelho, and Liz Medicine Crow of the First Alaskans Institute, received comments from two historians, one legal historian, two resolutions from organizations, and 85 comments from individuals.

“The Committee received an overwhelming number of recommendations that the Anchorage federal courthouse facility be named in honor of the late U.S. District Court Judge James M. Fitzgerald, including 13 letters from current or former federal or state trial and appellate judges,” reported the committee.

One of Judge Fitzgerald’s fellow judges remarked that, despite his extraordinary accomplishments, he was “humble, kindly, thoughtful, generous, indeed brilliant and devoted to public service. He offered so much – a man of true integrity. He is the finest judge and public servant that Alaska may ever see.”

In addition to serving as a judge, Fitzgerald was a decorated World War II Marine veteran, a prosecutor, Alaska’s first Commissioner of Public Safety, and the initiator of what would later become the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Village Public Safety Officer Program.