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Darrel J. Gardner

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Darrel J. Gardner
BornDarrel James Gardner
(1957-06-18) June 18, 1957 (age 63)
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
🏳️ NationalityAmerican
🎓 Alma mater
  • Santa Clara University (B.A.)
  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law (J.D.)
💼 Occupation
Assistant Federal Defender, District of Alaska
👩 Spouse(s)
  • Tina Adair
👶 Children1
👴 👵 Parent(s)James T. Gardner and Joyce K. Gardner
🌐 Website[1]

Darrel J. Gardner (born 1957 in Anchorage, Alaska) is a criminal defense lawyer in Alaska. He is a founding director and former president of the Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; former president of the Alaska Chapter of the Federal Bar Association; Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference; and 64th president of the Alaska Bar Association.

Early life and education[edit]

Darrel Gardner was born in Anchorage, in the Territory of Alaska, shortly before statehood. His parents were both from small towns in Minnesota, and his aunt and uncle, Wilhelmina ("Minnie") and Frank Swanda, were among the 203 original Colony families of Palmer and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.[1] His cousin, Dorothy Swanda Jones, served on the Assembly and as Mayor of the Mat-Su Borough; the Mat-Su Borough Administration building in Palmer is named in her honor.[2] He graduated from East Anchorage High School in 1975. Gardner received his B.A. in English from Santa Clara University, California in 1980; he was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. Gardner was also an exchange student at the University of London and the Institute of European Studies in Paris. Following college, Gardner moved to San Francisco. Gardner obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of California, San Francisco Hastings College of the Law in 1983. Gardner attained honors in moot court during his second year of law school, and he was thereafter selected to be a member of the 1982-83 Hastings Moot Court Board.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Gardner began his career as private lawyer at a small firm in Anchorage in 1983. In the early 1990s he joined the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy as an Assistant Public Advocate. At the time, Gardner was the state's only traveling felony attorney engaged in statewide criminal defense of class A and unclassified felony crimes. Gardner left state employment in 2003 to open his own private criminal law practice emphasizing the defense of serious felony and federal prosecutions.[4] In 2008 Gardner was appointed to the federal Criminal Justice Act Panel for the District of Alaska, and he was later appointed to the CJA Panel Advisory Committee. In 2012 Gardner left private practice and returned to public service as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the United States Courts, District of Alaska.[5]

Professional activities and recognition[edit]

Over the course of his career, Gardner has defended hundreds of felony cases including a "murder and chainsaw dismemberment" case in Palmer, Alaska in the 1990s. Gardner represented Carl Abuhl from Ketchikan, who allegedly beat a man to death with a baseball bat and then burned the man's cat by placing it in an operational microwave oven. Although tried for first-degree murder, the jury returned a verdict of murder in the second-degree.[6] Abuhl attained even more notoriety when several years later when he committed Alaska's first in custody homicide at Spring Creek Correctional Center by strangling his cell mate to death, because the man had bragged about murdering his own mother. Gardner also represented a co-conspirator in a highly publicized "militia" case involving a plot to kill a federal judge and his family in Fairbanks, Alaska.[7]

In November 2009, Gardner and three other Anchorage criminal defense lawyers founded the Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers ("AKACDL"). Gardner has served continuously as a director of the organization, and variously as its president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.[8]

From 2012-2014 Gardner served as the President of the Alaska Chapter of the Federal Bar Association ("FBA").[9] In 2012 Gardner was appointed by the Chief Judge of United States Courts for the District of Alaska as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference.[10] He was also selected as a member of the District Court Fund Committee. As president of the Alaska Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, Gardner participated as a presenter at events in 2014 naming the "Robert Boochever Federal Courthouse" in Juneau, and the "James M. Fitzgerald Courthouse and Federal Building" in Anchorage. In 2017 Gardner became chair elect of the FBA's Criminal Section.[11] In 2017, Gardner was elected Vice President of the Ninth Circuit.[12]

In 2014 Gardner was elected to the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association;[13] in 2017 he became president.[14] The Alaska Bar Association has over 4,000 members; Gardner was elected to one of the four seats representing the Third Judicial District, the largest judicial district in Alaska encompassing Anchorage and all of south central and south western Alaska. Gardner has also served on the Bar Association's Attorney Discipline Hearing Committee, Continuing Legal Education Committee, and Pro Bono Committee.[15]

Gardner has been peer review rated as "AV Preeminent" - the highest possible rating - by Martindale-Hubbell.[16] In 2015 he was elected to the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation[17] and the Fellows of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association.[18]


  1. {{cite web|url=http://explorenorth.com/alaska/matanuska_colony.html
  2. http://cityofpalmer.org/vertical/sites/%7BCEEE28AE-9003-4337-8BE2-A1961FF16E3D%7D/uploads/970_Joint_reso_honoring_Dorothy_Jones.pdf
  3. http://www.uchastings.edu/academics/pro-skills-team/moot-court/intercollegiate-competitions/Moot%20Court%20Board/index.php
  4. "Home". www.darrelgardner.com. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  5. http://ak.fd.org/
  6. http://peninsulaclarion.com/stories/103102/ala_103102ala0050001.shtml#.Wo6H7st1qdI
  7. "Service List". www.darrelgardner.com. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  8. http://akacdl.server306.com/about/
  9. "Officers". www.fedbar.org. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  10. https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view_lawrep.php?pk_id=0000000907
  11. http://www.fedbar.org/Sections/Criminal-Law-Section/Officers.aspx
  12. http://www.fedbar.org/Leadership/VPCs/Ninth-Circuit/Darrel-Gardner.aspx
  13. https://alaskabar.org/for-lawyers/board-of-governors/listing-board-members-officers/
  14. https://alaskabar.org/for-lawyers/board-of-governors/meet-the-board/
  15. "About Us". www.darrelgardner.com. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  16. "Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Ratings - Client Reviews for Attorneys". www.martindale.com. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  17. Foundation, American Bar. "Fellows - American Bar Foundation". www.americanbarfoundation.org. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  18. http://www.fedbar.org/Foundation/Fellows-of-the-Foundation/List-of-Fellows-of-the-Foundation.aspx


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