Updated: Aug 2, 2020
The biggest news of June actually includes the first part of July for those who actually keep track. Sarah and Ben got married one July 3rd in Bethel.
A fairly large group of tourists flooded Bethel for the event, and apparently had a good time. The wedding itself was conducted in the rain, and the fiesta followed at Ed Lackey's shop which had a major transformation for the event. After watching Bethel's famous Fourth of July parade 17 of the group traveled by float plane to the Angstman cabin for a few days of fishing and food, prepared by long time family friend Don Lehmann, who excels in gourmet camp cooking. He even brought his tools.
The wedding and party were classic Bethel events. The bride arrived by cab, accompanied by the only attendant, Mary the flower girl. The crowd on the river bank stood for the ceremony. The fiesta which followed was accomplished by a volunteer effort, headed by Cindy Andrechek and Christy Davis and aided by dozens. The bride and groom were registered at Cabelas. They had a two part honeymoon, first at the family cabin with 15 other people, and second on a Missouri River float, accompanied by several more friends.
The wedding's best line was uttered by Ben. During his toast at the fiesta he mentioned that he was trying to get Sarah to be more of a coffee drinker. He concluded his remarks by saying "When Sarah and I go to bed at night I get really excited," at which point he paused while the crowd hooted. He raised his hands to quiet the crowd and said "wait, let me finish" and then added, "I get excited thinking about waking up in the morning to have coffee with Sarah."
Of course the law office has to stay open no matter what is happening. The biggest news recently was a decision by the Alaska Supreme court on the case known around the office as the Hooper Bay fire case. It involves a suit against the Lower Yukon School District for a fire which destroyed the old school and numerous nearby homes. The fire was started by kids playing with matches under one of the school buildings. The school is blamed for not preventing the kids from playing under the school during the summer break. ALO represents the school.
Earlier, the local Superior Court threw out the suit saying the school had no legal duty to folks living nearby growing out of the facts of this case. The claimants asked for reconsideration of that decision, which was granted, and the court reversed itself. That reversal was challenged by the school, and a petition was filed with the Supreme Court. That court rarely intervenes in a suit before trial, which was scheduled for August. This time however, the Supreme Court ordered the lower court to consider a summary judgment motion filed by the school and previously rejected by the lower court.
The other big news for June is the departure of Matt Widmer after five years of excellent performance. Matt came to ALO right out of law school , and quickly displayed skills beyond those of many more experienced lawyers who have come and gone from the office in the past 30 plus years. He has the benefit of being smart, hard working and very honest. Many folks think most lawyers have all three traits, but those folks are mistaken. As a plus Matt has an excellent sense of humor, which comes in handy at ALO where a good laugh is favored.
Matt indicated his desire to become a judge early in his stay at ALO, and he still has that goal. He wants to broaden his experience to improve his chances of becoming a judge. He will move to the Office of Public Advocacy in Anchorage, where he will practice both criminal and civil law for indigent clients. He leaves a large void, one that will be filled by contract lawyers. The recent experience at ALO is that contract lawyers working outside of Bethel are a better option than attempting to attract another lawyer of Matt's skill level. Contract lawyers usually work from home, have lots of experience, and don't have a difficult adjustment period when moving to Bethel that many experience. Matt's departure will likely lead to some narrowing of focus for ALO, in that remaining staff members may not accept cases in a few areas of law that have been accepted in the past. The emphasis will still be on litigation, both civil and criminal.