Judge Nora Guinn Award


The Alaska Bar Association Judge Nora Guinn award honors Alaska District Court Judge Nora Guinn of Bethel, who died July 6, 2005.  The award is presented to a person who has made an extraordinary or sustained effort to assist Alaska’s Bush residents, especially its Native population, and has overcome language and cultural barriers to obtaining justice through the legal system, a goal to which Judge Guinn was firmly committed throughout her long career as a judge and community activist.


The Board of Governors solicits nominations that are due by August 1, and should include a detailed description of the nominee’s contributions to Alaska Natives and other Bush community residents.


Please submit your nomination via an electronic form below or send your nomination form to the Alaska Bar Association, attn. Danielle Bailey, Executive Director, 840 K Street, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99501-3353 or e-mail to bailey@alaskabar.org.


Deadline:  August 1


Past Award Recipients


  • 2022: No award presented
  • 2021: Cheryl McKay
  • 2020: Magistrate Heidi Ivanoff
  • 2019: Magistrate Judge Kim Sweet
  • 2018: Crystal Garrison
  • 2017: No award presented
  • 2016: Chris Cooke
  • 2015: Lisa Jaeger
  • 2014: David Voluck
  • 2013: Peter Ashman
  • 2012: Magistrate Arlene Clay (Ret. and 99 years old)
  • 2011: Michael Biderman
  • 2010: No award presented.
  • 2009: Judge Richard Erlich
  • 2008: Judge Michael I. Jeffery
  • 2007: Craig McMahon (posthumous)

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Court System.

Born and raised in the village of Akiak in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Judge Guinn was the first Alaska Native judge in the state and one of the first women judges.  Judge Guinn was a magistrate in Bethel before being appointed by Governor Hickel as a district court judge.  She often conducted court proceedings in the Yupik language to foster better understanding of legal principles, and is credited with playing a major role in extending judicial services to Southwest Alaska and other rural areas of the state.  She was elected to the Bethel City Council and served on the boards of many organizations, including Calista Corporation, the Lower Kuskokwim School District, Orutsararmuit Native Council, Bethel Social Services, and Alaska Legal Services Corporation.

Listen to a clip of Judge Nora Guinn’s first proceeding as Bethel District Judge on April 1, 1968:

For an individual Alaskan who has made an extraordinary or sustained effort to assist Alaska’s rural residents, especially its Native population, overcome language and cultural barriers to obtaining justice through the legal system.






    5. Why is this person being nominated for the Judge Nora Guinn Award? This portion of the nomination is the primary determinant for the award, and should outline in detail what service, accomplishment, characteristic or activity shows that the nominee has demonstrated a commitment to rural justice issues in the State of Alaska.


    Please attach a separate sheet:

    7. Support for your nomination from other people is also helpful. This support may be in the form of no more than three (3) letters.

    Person submitting the nomination:

    Due Date: August 13

    Photo courtesy of Judge Guinn’s family.