The Alaska legislature has codified, in section 18.66.100 of the Alaska Statutes, a process through which petitioners can seek a domestic violence protective order. Such an order offers petitioners a range of protections against a household member who has committed a crime of domestic violence. Most of the protections afforded under these orders last one year, and the means by which a petitioner could renew a domestic violence protective order has, until recently, remained unclear. In Whalen v. Whalen, decided in August 2018 by a three to two margin, the Alaska Supreme Court clarified that renewal process. The court held that a petitioner must suffer a new crime of domestic violence before a new domestic violence protective order can be issued. Such a ruling may seem quite harsh, and in fact, shortly thereafter, the legislature amended section 18.66.100 to provide for an extension mechanism and to explicitly reject the notion that a new order must be predicated on a new crime of domestic violence. This Note inspects why the ruling, rather than a harsh judicial construct, was instead a product of the separation of powers and a respect for the limits of the court vis-à-vis the legislature. Further, this Note engages with the legislative history to illustrate the development of the statute. Lastly, this Note collects corresponding statutes from other states and compares them to the current iteration of section 18.66.100. Upon review of similar statutes, it is clear that the Whalen amendment merely addressed an issue that should have never existed in the first place, and there is still much that the legislature can do to build on the Whalen amendment in order to reduce Alaska’s high rates of domestic violence.
Samuel R. Buchman,
The Incomplete Process of Fixing Alaska’s Domestic Violence Protective Order Statute,
37 Alaska Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol37/iss1/4