A.H. v. P.B

In A.H. v. P.B., 2 P.3d 627 (Alaska 2000), the appellant father argued impliedly on appeal that the superior court exhibited partiality to the appellee mother by accepting ex parte communications from her and forwarding these communications to him, thereby functioning as the appellee mother's "personal secretary." Id. at 628. The Alaska Supreme Court held: The record does not establish that the court acted inappropriately in this regard. Both parties, one who appeared pro se at all times, and the other who appeared pro se after her attorney withdrew in 1997, besieged the superior court with communications expressly, and sometimes impliedly, seeking relief of various sorts. Some of these communications were ex parte, or were not accompanied by proof of service. The Alaska Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from initiating, permitting, or considering ex parte communications in pending or impending matters. Dealing with pro se litigants who are unable or unwilling to follow service requirements and procedural formalities can be problematic. Even pro se litigants should be instructed to avoid ex parte communications and to submit certificates of service. Ultimately, ex parte communications should not be accepted for filing unless service has been made by the filing party, or unless the court makes service itself. Here the superior court appears to have attempted to follow this practice consistently. Any possible lapses were few, and do not demonstrate any bias against appellant father. 5. Equally problematic is the ambiguity of informal requests for relief, such as the February 15, 1999, letter appellee mother sent to the superior court in this case. Appellant father treated this letter as a request for relief, and filed an opposition. The best practice is for a trial court, if it intends to give consideration to such a request, to indicate that it is treating the request as a motion for relief. Other parties may then respond as necessary without wondering whether the court has simply accepted the communication for filing and intends not to act on it absent further notice. (2 P.3d at 628-29.)