William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Casey Sawyer


Rule 4 of Alaska’s Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes how service of process must be completed for a civil lawsuit, much like Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. When filing suit against the State of Alaska or one of its agencies or officers, Alaska Civil Rule 4(d)(7)–(8) require that service of process be delivered to multiple locations. The plaintiff will usually have to serve the Attorney General’s office in the district of filing (either Anchorage or Fairbanks) and also must deliver service of process to the Attorney General’s office in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau. If they are suing a state officer or state agency, the officer or agency must be served as well, meaning that certain defendants can require a minimum of three services of process.

This provision, which creates a situation where service must be delivered to Juneau for a case taking place in Anchorage or Fairbanks, may amount to an unconstitutional burden on due process rights by arbitrarily increasing the difficulty of perfecting service. Serving process in Juneau presents multiple challenges for a plaintiff, some of which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, Rule 4(d)(7) may burden a plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by placing restraints on a “right to sue” that some scholars and judges believe is contained within the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.