Alaska became the 49th state of the United States of America on January 3, 1959. It had been purchased from the Russians in 1867 by then Secretary of State William Seward. The purchase was soundly criticized and called “Seward’s Folly” because the vast territory of 664,988 square miles, which makes it the largest state, was seen to be a poor investment. That proved to be a misconception when gold was discovered in 1890, leading to a stampede of settlers and prospectors.
Alaska lies at the farthest northwest point in the continent of North America and is surrounded in the north by the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort Sea, the eastern side by British Columbia province and Yukon Territory of Canada, the southern side by the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Alaska, and the western side by the Bering Sea and the Bering Strait. The capital city of Alaska is Juneau.
The state has boroughs instead of counties. There are 19 boroughs in Alaska that are well organized with one yet to be organized. The boroughs are classified by classes, with the adoption of the home rule charter as a basis for making it to first class status.
The highest state of the court in Alaska that hears appeals coming from other lower courts is the Supreme Court of Alaska. There are four associate justices and one chief justice. Selecting the chief justice is done by voting among the five justices, and serving consecutive terms is not allowed.
Oral arguments on cases are heard on a monthly basis by the Supreme Court in Anchorage, and every quarter in Juneau and Fairbanks. There are other occasions where the Supreme Court may hear oral arguments in other communities in Alaska, but prefers to do them in courts in the judicial districts. Conferences among the Supreme Court chief justice and associate justices are held bi-weekly.