Coffey v. State

In Coffey v. State, 585 P.2d 514 (Alaska 1978), modified on other grounds, State v. Glass, 596 P.2d 10 (Alaska 1979), the supreme court was presented with a claim similar to Moussouras's. Coffey had, on the morning of trial, challenged the trial judge under the same general provision Moussouras uses -- that the judge could not give a fair and impartial decision. See 585 P.2d at 524. (Coffey relied on AS 22.20.020(a)(6), which has been renumbered and is now found at subsection (a)(9).) Among other things, on appeal Coffey claimed that the trial judge erred by failing to request that another judge rule on Coffey's challenge for cause. Relying on AS 22.20.020(c), Coffey "maintained that the decision on disqualification could not be made solely by the judge." In response, the supreme court ruled that: "With respect to the failure of another judge to rule on the disqualification motion, we believe that, under AS 22.20.020(c), it was incumbent on Coffey to request the chief justice, as presiding judge of the next higher court, to appoint another judge to determine the question. No such request was made."