Jim West v. State, 010219 AKCA, A-12813

Docket Nº:A-12813
Opinion Judge:ALLARD JUDGE.
Party Name:VICTOR PAUL JIM WEST JR., Petitioner, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Respondent.
Attorney:Megan R. Webb, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Petitioner. Donald Soderstrom, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Respondent.
Judge Panel:Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Coats, Senior Judge.
Case Date:January 02, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Alaska
 
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VICTOR PAUL JIM WEST JR., Petitioner,

v.

STATE OF ALASKA, Respondent.

No. A-12813

Court of Appeals of Alaska

January 2, 2019

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Petition for review from the Superior Court Trial Court No. 3UN-15-229 CR, Third Judicial District, Unalaska, Steve W. Cole, Judge.

Megan R. Webb, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Petitioner.

Donald Soderstrom, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Respondent.

Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Coats, Senior Judge. [*]

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALLARD JUDGE.

Victor Paul Jim West Jr. was indicted for second-degree assault (assault with a dangerous instrument), based on allegations that he hit another man in the face with a metal pipe. Following the conclusion of approximately thirteen hours of evidence, the jury began deliberating. After deliberating for more than thirty hours over the span of several days, and declaring themselves deadlocked multiple times, the jurors still had not reached a verdict. On the fourth day of deliberations, the jurors told the trial judge that they thought further deliberations would be pointless. Superior Court Judge Steve W. Cole then declared a mistrial over the defense attorney's objection.

When the State prepared to bring West to trial a second time, West filed a motion to dismiss the case on double jeopardy grounds - arguing that there had been no manifest necessity for the judge to declare a mistrial. The superior court denied West's motion to dismiss the case, and West now petitions us to review and reverse the superior court's decision.1 For the reasons explained here, we affirm the superior court's decision.

The procedural history of this case

West's jury heard approximately thirteen hours of testimony during his trial for second-degree assault. (Under AS 11.41.210(a)(1), a person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if "with intent to cause physical injury to another person, that person causes physical injury to another person by means of a dangerous instrument.")

At the close of the evidence in West's trial, there were two main issues in contention. First, West argued that he should be acquitted because he acted in self-defense. Second, West asserted that he should be acquitted because he claimed that he struck the victim only with his fist rather than with a pipe (the alleged dangerous instrument).[2]

In an attempt to resolve these issues, the jurors deliberated for more than thirty hours over the span of several days. During this time, the jury sent eight notes to the judge stating that it could not reach a unanimous decision. In its very first note, the jury informed the judge that the jurors were split on the question of whether West used a dangerous instrument.

In...

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