Dunleavy accepts resignation of public defender — immediately



Gov. Michael Dunleavy accepted the resignation of Public Defender Quinlan Steiner on Friday, and named Beth Goldstein as acting Public Defender. She started in that role on Monday morning.

Steiner had resigned on April 2, but made his resignation effective to the date when a new public defender was named, as in, “effective upon the appointment of a new Public Defender nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council under AS 18.85.030.”

The Judicial Council announced its intention to take action to fill the vacancy created by the resignation, and the governor understood that as an acknowledgment the seat was vacant, giving him the authority to appoint an interim.

AS 18.85.050 states “If the position of public defender becomes vacant for any reason, the governor may appoint an acting public defender to serve until the regular appointment procedures under AS 18.85.030 are complied with. The governor and the judicial council shall act under AS 18.85.030 as soon as possible after the vacancy occurs. A person appointed under that section to fill a vacancy begins a new four-year term.”

“For any reason” in this case is the governor accepting the resignation of the public defender, but moving up the date, based on the Judicial Council’s decision to nominate a replacement.

Steiner was challenging the governor’s authority as of Friday and told the mainstream media he was not sure whether he would come into work on Monday.

Evidently, he stayed home. Goldstein is now the official interim Public Defender; it says so on her LinkedIn page.

Goldstein has her JD from the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law, and an undergraduate degree in genetic engineering from Cedar Crest College.

She has served as an assistant public advocate in the Appeals and Statewide Criminal Defense Unit.She also clerked with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, served as a patent attorney with Proctor and Gamble Company, and served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2007, Goldstein authored a paper for the Duke Law Review entitled: Sexual Relationship, Did We Have One?  The paper reviewed the definition of “sexual relationship” within the context of Alaska’s domestic violence laws.



  1. Good! Our spending on the public defender’s office is insane! Don’t replace – just backfill.
    We spend 5X what other comparable states do on indigent legal services.
    PLUS – we fund the separate Office of Public Advocacy providing often duplicative services.
    Source: http://gideonat50.org/in-your-state/alaska/

    Cost Per Capita: $42.17
    State Funding Level: 100% State Funding
    State Independence: Non-Independent Commission
    Primary Delivery Model: Staffed Public Defender
    Workload Limits: None

    North Dakota:
    Cost Per Capita: $7.79
    State Funding Level: 100% State Funding
    State Independence: Independent Commission
    Primary Delivery Model: Staffed Public Defender

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