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Morgan Christen: First Female Judge from the Last Frontier

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

It has been a week of firsts for female jurists from sparsely-populated states.

On Tuesday, Stephanie Thacker was sworn in as the first female judge from West Virginia to serve on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Wednesday, it was Alaska's turn for the spotlight.

Alaska Supreme Court Morgan Christen was sworn in as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Christen is the first female judge from Alaska, reports KTUU-TV.

Judge Christen was sworn in by Senior Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, (also an Alaskan), during an investiture ceremony at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage. Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski also attended.

Christen will fill Judge Kleinfeld's seat on the Ninth Circuit bench.

Born and raised in Washington, Christen attended the University of Washington (BA '83) and Golden Gate University School of Law (JD '86). She practiced with Preston Thorgrimson Ellis & Holman, (now K&L Gates LLP), where she eventually earned partnership, from 1987 until 2001. Justice Christen was appointed the Alaska Superior Court in 2001, and became the presiding judge of the state's Third Judicial District in 2005. In 2009, then-Governor Sarah Palin appointed Justice Christen to the Alaska Supreme Court.

The Senate confirmed Judge Christen for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December by a vote of 95-3.

Judge Christen, a long-time Anchorage resident, told the crowd during the investiture ceremony, "I have loved exploring this state for the past 25 years and I look forward to sharing more of it with my Ninth Circuit colleagues in the years ahead." Judge Christen will commute between the San Francisco-based court and Anchorage.

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