John Havelock

Attorney General of Alaska (1971–1973)
John Havelock
John Havelock.jpg
Attorney General of Alaska
In office
GovernorWilliam A. Egan
Preceded byG. Kent Edwards
Succeeded byNorman C. Gorsuch
Personal details
Born(1932-07-30)July 30, 1932
Toronto, Canada
DiedAugust 31, 2021(2021-08-31) (aged 89)
Anchorage, Alaska
Political partyDemocratic

John Eric Havelock (July 30, 1932 – August 31, 2021) was the Attorney General of Alaska from 1971-1973, a champion of individual privacy and Native American resource and subsistence rights.

Early life

Havelock was born in Toronto, Canada and emigrated to the United States when he was fourteen years old. He attended boarding school in the U.S., and entered Harvard where he graduated in 1956 and was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served as a military police investigator.[1] After his discharge, he reentered Harvard and graduated from law school in 1959, he moved to Alaska.[2]


After four years at the Alaska Department of Law he entered private practice. In 1967 Havelock was named a Fellow at the White House, working as a special assistant to Orville Freeman, the Secretary of Agriculture. He was appointed as the state's Attorney General by Governor Bill Egan in 1970, an office he held for three years.[2] In that capacity he drafted the Constitutional Privacy Amendment.[2] Havelock said he was approached by then-Senate President, Republican Terry Miller] with a draft privacy amendment intended to be adopted into the Alaska Constitution. Instead Havelock drafted a 22-word substitute which was adopted as he had written it.[3]

Havelock said he was handed a first draft of what inspired Alaska's privacy amendment from Fairbanks Republican Senate President Terry Miller, and found it unnecessarily prolix. "So I went back to the office and I wrote it the way it is now and went out in the hall, handed it to him, and that became the Privacy Amendment."[3]

Any amendment to the state's constitution requires obtaining approval of the voters. They gave it sufficient support when it appeared on a ballot.[4]

Section 22 of the state Constitution's is only 20 words: "The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed. The legislature shall implement this section."

It is the foundation of Alaska Supreme Court opinions decriminalizing marijuana and upholding the right to abortion. Although in 1972, when it was crafted, there was concern over the government's collection of the personal data of Alaskans, but Havelock subsequently contended applying it to abortion rights is very appropriate. "It is a broad idea. Privacy should apply to that situation," "A woman's consultation with her doctor — Jiminy Crickets. There's a limit to what you can do with that with a judicial proceeding."

Havelock also assisted in crafting the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) which negotiated and substantially preserved the rights of those Natives whose traditional lands overrode the crude oil deposits. In addition, his efforts were central to enabling the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which enabled the right-of-way and privately funded 800-mile pipeline. He also help to write the resource legislation that codified traditional and subsistence fishing rights, preserving conservation of fisheries and domination by "outside" interests and insulating against those of foreign corporations.

After leaving his position as Attorney General, he became a founding partner in the Anchorage firm of Ely, Guess, Rudd & Havelock (now Guess & Rudd). He was elected to the board of the state bar association, representing the state bar at the American Bar Association. He also took an appointment as the administrator of the Alaska Bar Association.[5]

In 1974, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House, losing to Alaska Native Willie Hensley in the Democratic primary. Ten years after that loss, he finished second in the All-party primary for U.S. Senate though he lost to Republican incumbent Ted Stevens in the general election.[6]

In 1977, he became a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He was a founding director of the University's Criminal Justice Center and its legal studies program. In 1990, he unsuccessfully ran for an Anchorage seat in the state Senate.[2]

After the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, he became the lead lawyer and staff director for the state of Alaska commission which was tasked with investigating the accident.[5]

In 2012, Havelock published a book, Let's Get It Right: Why We Need an Alaska Constitutional Convention, supporting the convening of a new state constitutional convention.[7]

He co-founded and headed the law firm Havelock and Duffy until his retirement in 2019.[5]

Shortly before he died, Havelock reflected on his life and legacy. He said, from a hospital bed in his home,"I am a short-timer, you understand." "Well, I'm happy about it. I've had a good, strong life, full of accomplishments, and I don’t need anything else."[3]

Personal life

He married several times, the last being May 17, 2008 to Mona (Pitts) Havelock who became his widow. They had a "shared family" of five children and seven grandchildren.[2]


  1. ^ Resolution No. AR 2021-328, Anchorage Assembly, September 28, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Former Alaska attorney general John Havelock dies at age 89, Anchorage Daily News, James Brooks, September 1, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c John Havelock, former Alaska attorney general, has died, Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruskin, September 1, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  4. ^ The legacy of John Havelock: A right to privacy that sets Alaska apart, Anchorage Daily News, Steve Haycox, September 26, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c John Havelock. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  6. ^ "AK US Senate- All-Party Primary Race - Aug 28, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  7. ^ Let's Get It Right: Why We Need an Alaska Constitutional Convention, University of Alaska Press, 2012. Retrieved July 31, 2022.

External links

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Legal offices
Preceded by
G. Kent Edwards
Attorney General of Alaska
Succeeded by
Norman C. Gorsuch
State (since 1959)