Speculation erupts after Trump-appointed Alaska judge suddenly resigns with no explanation

By 
 July 7, 2024

Rumors and speculation have been fueled in Alaska by the sudden and unexpected resignation of a relatively young federal judge who has only sat on the bench for a few years despite a lifetime appointment.

U.S. District Judge Joshua Kindred submitted his resignation letter on Wednesday, July 3, to take effect on Monday, July 8, according to Newsweek.

Resigning judge just ascended to the bench four years ago

Bloomberg Law reported that Judge Kindred was nominated to the federal bench in Alaska by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 and was confirmed by the Senate in February 2020 by a 54-41 vote.

Born in North Carolina in 1977 as the son of a U.S. Air Force service member, Kindred grew up in Alaska after his father was transferred there and graduated from the University of Alaska in Anchorage before obtaining a law degree from the Willamette University School of Law in Oregon.

Kindred served as a clerk for the Oregon Supreme Court before returning to Alaska to serve as an assistant district attorney in Anchorage, after which he worked as an attorney for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association before he took a federal job with the Interior Department's Office of the Regional Solicitor prior to being nominated to the bench as a district judge.

Resignation announced, statement explains reassignment of caseload

Candice Duncan, the Clerk of the Court for the District of Alaska, announced Judge Kindred's abrupt resignation on Friday and included a copy of his brief resignation letter addressed to President Joe Biden that included no explanation for his sudden departure from his lifetime position on the bench.

Duncan also released a statement that revealed that Kindred had 77 open criminal cases with 102 criminal defendants plus 148 open civil cases, the bulk of which would be reassigned to the district's Chief Judge Sharon Gleason, with just a handful reassigned to Senior Judge Timothy Burgess.

Kindred's departure leaves two of Alaska's three Article III judicial positions vacant, with the other vacancy opened by Burgess when he took the semi-retired senior status in 2021.

That means Gleason is currently the only active federal judge in the entire state, as of Monday, though she will receive some assistance in managing the caseload by the district's five senior status judges who work part-time as well as by four U.S. magistrate judges, two of whom serve full-time while a third works part-time and the fourth was recalled out of retirement.

While those magistrate judges typically only handle petty offenses and pre-trial matters like signing off on warrants or preliminary motions in criminal and civil cases, they can preside over civil trials if all parties consent, which may help lighten the load on Gleason and the senior judges.

Rumors and speculation

According to The Alaska Landmine, while there has been no official explanation for Judge Kindred's sudden resignation, there have been rumors of a possible scandal brewing for more than a year about an alleged inappropriate relationship with a former clerk who transferred from the district court to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage and then moved to Washington D.C. to take a job with the Justice Department around the same time that Kindred and his wife got divorced.

Other assistant U.S. attorneys in the Anchorage office were also revealed to be having extramarital affairs during the same time frame and their cases before Kindred were reportedly either reassigned by late 2022 or the judge recused himself from them.

Meanwhile, unnamed sources informed the outlet that the Judicial Council was investigating Kindred, though the reason for the probe was not known. Interestingly enough, that inquiry will now reportedly end with the judge's unexpected resignation.

To be sure, the Landmine acknowledged that its report was based on substantial speculation but nonetheless put forward several pertinent questions about who knew what and when about exactly what was going on in the court and U.S. Attorney's Office that has resulted in so many unexplained reassignments, recusals, recusals, and transfers.

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