Meet Our Experienced Alaska Attorneys

Experienced Kenai Attorneys

over 50 years of experience on your team

Peter R. Ehrhardt

Peter Ehrhardt, Attorney at Law, graduated from the University of Minnesota law school in 1980. He moved to Alaska that same year and began working for a small personal injury firm in Bethel, Alaska. In 1983, Mr. Ehrhardt moved to Sitka, Alaska, and worked for a small general practice firm there. In 1984, Mr. Ehrhardt moved to Kenai, Alaska, where he resides today.

In 2002, Peter started a Kenai law firm to meet growing demand on the Kenai Peninsula. Since then, the office has expanded to include three local attorneys committed to providing honest, accommodating, and timely service throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Peter continues to fight for his clients’ rights and support the staff to this day.

Phone: (907) 283-2876

Fax: (907) 283-2896



Areas of specialization:

Personal Injury | Insurance | Business Litigation | Construction

Cases of Note:

K.M. Personal Injury

Our client, a male in his early 20’s, was sleeping in his friend’s car. His friend started driving without waking him up. It was winter and the roads were filled with snow. While approaching the highway, the driver was unable to stop and continued over the side of a 6-8 foot drop off. Our client was not wearing his seatbelt and was thrown around in the small car. He sustained significant back injuries, but with this injury he continued to try and find work. Through negotiations, our office was able to obtain a $100,000 settlement to help our client recover enough money to not only recover medically, but also to start his education to learn a new career that didn’t involve so much manual labor and stress on his injured back.

A.P. Personal Injury

Our client, a mother of twin babies, was traveling on Bridge Access Road in her small car when caribou began to cross the road. She stopped in a line waiting for the caribou when a full-size pick-up failed to see the line of stopped cars, and rear ended her at approximately 55 mph – maybe faster. She was transported to the hospital and her car was totaled. After a long drawn out fight with the insurance company and their attorneys, we were able to recover a settlement of $85,000. She was able to purchase a much larger and safer vehicle for her and her children.

I.M. Personal Injury

Our client, 9-year-old child, was given the wrong medication at a local pharmacy. The “mix-up” caused her to have hallucinations of a tall man in black trying to attack her and kill her parents. She was admitted to a behavioral health facility in Anchorage for several weeks until her medication could be stabilized and she could go back to her normal daily life with her family. After negotiations with their insurance company, our office was able to obtain a settlement of $120,000. She is now able to afford tools to help her with her condition, and someday be able to attend a college of her choice.


Peter was a member of the plaintiffs’ trial team which obtained a $5 billion verdict in the Exxon Valdez litigation. For his work on that case, Mr. Ehrhardt, as a member of the trial team, received the 1995 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a national organization of trial lawyers.


Peter was co-council in Re: Glacier Bay, a class action arising out of a 1987 oil spill in upper Cook Inlet which resulted in a $51 million settlement.


Peter and a very small team of lawyers aggressively researched and challenged the odds to win the fight against the pollution causing factory in the early 90’s.

Phone: (907) 283-2876

Fax: (907) 283-2896



Areas of specialization:

Criminal Defense | Civil Litigation | Personal Injury | Family Law

Katie A. Elsner

Katie completed her undergraduate education in 2004 at New York University where she graduated cum laude. Katie then went on to the prestigious Northwestern University School of Law. It was here that Katie learned, while working on death penalty cases, that the client is the most important focus in each and every case.

After graduating cum laude from Northwestern Law, she continued developing her practice at the Miami Dade Public Defender’s Office. During her five years in Miami, she represented thousands of adult and juvenile clients charged with misdemeanor offenses, like DUI and assault, to life felonies, including homicide and sexual assault. She was a founding member of the Task Force on Forensic Litigation and received national attention when she was featured on an episode of the A&E TV show ‘After the First 48’ where she successfully convinced a judge to dismiss her client’s murder case.

Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, Katie ultimately decided to leave Miami for the scenery and seasons for which Alaska is so well known. Since arriving in the Kenai area, she has worked for Alaska Legal Services, where she expanded her practice to include civil litigation in areas such as divorce and custody, child in need of aid, probate, protective proceedings and estates and later provided the same services as a contract attorney at Walton, Theiler & Winegarden. From attacking eye-witness identifications and the forensic sciences to resolving a family dispute, Katie is adept at litigating the particular issues involved in your criminal or civil case. With experience trying dozens of jury and non-jury trials, negotiating hundreds of case resolutions, and taking thousands of depositions, Katie is a vigorous advocate who will fight for you.

Phone: (907) 283-2876

Fax: (907) 283-2896



Areas of specialization:

Criminal Defense | Civil Litigation | Personal Injury | Family Law

Cases of Note:

2018 – In the Matter of O.O.

Our client was not identified as a father when the State removed a child. Once he was identified the State drug their feet and tried to place barriers in the way of getting this child home to her dad. By ensuring he was recognized as the father and taking an aggressive litigation position, we were able to get the child home where she belonged.

2017 – State v. S.F, J.F, & J.L.

Our clients were accused of violating river permitting requirements. Despite simultaneous municipal action, the State also sought to prosecute criminally. By engaging in discovery and investigation, developing a strong defense and closely tracking the municipal action, the State was ultimately compelled to dismiss all of the criminal charges filed against each of our clients.

2017 – In the Matter of Z.I.

Our client’s ability to parent had been impeded by the appointment of a guardian for her children that our client did not agree with. When we got involved, we were able to demonstrate to the court that the continued order would violate our client’s constitutional rights and convince the court to undo its guardianship.

2017 – In the Matter of Z.R.

Our client’s ability to parent had been impeded by the appointment of a guardian for her children that our client did not agree with. When we got involved, we were able to demonstrate to the court that the continued order would violate her constitutional rights and convince the court to undo its guardianship.


Mr. Sosa-Palma was accused of murdering his brother. If convicted, he would have spent the rest of his life in prison. By challenging and attacking the forensic, medical, and crime scene evidence, Katie was able to successfully convince the judge that, despite the State’s theory of the case, Mr. Sosa-Palma was acting in self-defense. When the Judge granted Mr. Sosa-Palma’s request for immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, Mr. Sosa-Palma’s murder charge was dismissed and he was released from jail.


Successfully challenged a CSSD administrative child support order leading to the reversal of tens of thousands of accrued child support arrearages, invalidating an administrative driver’s license suspension for non-payment of support and securing a dismissal of criminal charges for driving while his license was suspended.


Prevailed on a theory of equitable rescission at trial resulting in the client keeping sole possession of all of the property acquired during the marriage without having to divide anything with his former spouse.


Challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s controlled substance laws and obtained a court order on behalf of over 30 defendants finding the statutory scheme unconstitutional and dismissing their cases. Although a stay was entered and the trial court reversed on appeal, the cases were able to resolve with negotiated resolutions that avoided felony convictions and lengthy prisons sentences for the defendants.

Josh B. Cooley

Josh Cooley, Attorney at Law, graduated from the The George Washington University Law Center in Washington, D.C.  While in Law School, Mr. Cooley fell in love with criminal defense and Alaska while interning at the Alaska Public Defender Office here in Kenai.

Immediately after graduating, however, Mr. Cooley set out to shape his criminal defense and litigation practice in one of the biggest and busiest markets in the country: Miami.  In his first year, he received the Statewide Public Defender College Best Advocate Award.  In less than five years, Mr. Cooley moved from the Juvenile and Misdemeanor Crimes Divisions to being an “A” Felony Attorney handling only murder, attempted murder, armed robbery with a firearm, and “capital” sexual battery cases.  Those first four years of Mr. Cooley’s practice helped shape him into the seasoned, aggressive, and strategic litigator that he is today.

Mr. Cooley has conducted over 1,000 depositions and defended more than 50 cases at trial. Mr. Cooley has defended clients charged with crimes including: murder, attempted murder, DUI, armed robbery, theft, burglary, home invasion robbery, mortgage fraud, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, fleeing and eluding, drug possession, distribution, and trafficking, assault, sexual assault, and all manner of domestic violence allegations. While in Miami, Mr. Cooley was a founding member of the “Task Force on Forensic Litigation,” and conducted presentations and training to attorneys on how to defend against weapons and drug charges.

Phone: (907) 283-2876

Fax: (907) 283-2896



Area of specialization:

Criminal Defense | Civil Litigation | Personal Injury | Family Law | Construction

Cases of Note:

2018 – State v. J.H.

Our client was charged with a domestic violence assault in the fourth degree after his long-time partner and the mother of his children falsely accused him of shoving her. We were able to show the jury that she was in fact the aggressor and was using the criminal justice system to gain an advantage in child custody. The jury saw through her story and quickly returned a not guilty verdict.

2018 – State v. B.R.

Our client was charged with DUI after being pulled over for not using his turn signal on an empty road. Despite a solid performance on the roadside “tests”, the police took him to the breath machine where he blew over the limit. The prosecutor refused to reduce or dismiss the charges and so we took the case to trial. Under a blistering cross-examination the State’s own expert had to admit that the procedures that were used in the breath testing did not meet scientifically established standards and the jury hung. The prosecutor offered a reduced charge and our client walked away with no DUI on his record.

2018 – State v. Minor Child

Our very young client was charged with five felonies, stripped from his parents, and taken to jail based on the bare allegations of his classmates. Through extensive discovery and investigation, we determined that a tight knit group of individuals and family members had banded together to make false claims. The State was ultimately forced to dismiss all of the charges in the face of our demand for a jury trial.

2018 – State v. Minor Child

The State arrested our client on allegations that he had stolen a firearm and traded it for drugs. Our team worked the case mercilessly and prepared for trial without taking any continuances. The State was ultimately forced to abandon all of the charges and release our client.

2017 – State v. A.T.

As a young man our client was charged with serious felonies arising from allegations of drug trafficking in southeast Alaska. He left the jurisdiction and moved south where he improved his lot in life and went on to help others with their struggle and addictions – but the charges and warrants haunted him from Alaska. He contacted our office after being denied a passport due to the outstanding warrants. We were able to convince the prosecutor that dismissing the charges, and the warrants, in their entirety was the right thing to do. Our client continues to positively impact the community without the fear of arrest.

2017 – State v. R.N.

Our client had his license taken nearly 15 years ago following a felony DUI and he contacted us about using the provisions of SB-91, Alaska’s latest major criminal revision, to get it back. Unfortunately, R.N.’s conviction pre-dated the treatment programs covered under the statute and there was not a clear path toward regaining his license to drive. Through motion practice we were able to convince the prosecutor to not oppose our request and our client was able to drive again for the first time in 15 years.

STATE V. T.D. (2016)

T.D., a juvenile, was charged with multiple sexual assault charges carrying mandatory minimum penalties upwards of 20 years per charge. Mr. Cooley was able, through the use of an expert and pretrial management, to provide substantial mitigating evidence to the District Attorney. In the end, T.D.’s case was handled in juvenile court and he was placed on probation, avoiding a lengthy adult prison sentence and a lifetime of sex offender registration.


Hyatt was charged with assaulting his wife with a kitchen knife. Mr. Cooley vigorously prepared the case for trial and presented his defense through cross examination of the State witnesses. At the conclusion of the State’s evidence Mr. Cooley was able to convince the Judge that no reasonable juror could find Mr. Hyatt guilty and the Judge dismissed the case.


The State, upset at having the assault thrown out, then sought to charge Mr. Hyatt with a DUI from an accident nearly a year prior. Mr. Cooley prepared legal briefing and filed it with the Court, arguing that too much time had passed to pursue the DUI. The State was eventually forced to dismiss the DUI as well.


Hensel was charged with Felony Driving Under the Influence after being contacted in the driver seat of a truck stuck in the snow near Kasilof: he faced a minimum sentence of 3 years. At a pretrial hearing, Mr. Cooley was able to elicit testimony from the officer that conflicted with his prior reports and helped to show that Mr. Hensel had not in fact been driving or in physical control of the truck. Mr. Cooley was able to use these newly uncovered facts to convince the District Attorney to drop the charges.


Whitaker was charged with two counts of Murder in the shooting death of two individuals outside of a Chili’s restaurant in Miami. Through the use of expert witnesses and tireless preparation, Mr. Cooley was able to present evidence at a pretrial hearing that Whitaker had acted in self-defense. The Trial Court refused to grant Whitaker immunity from prosecution, but the Court of Appeals was persuaded by the evidence Cooley put forth in the hearing and granted Whitaker immunity from prosecution.