Worthen v. State, A-13684

CourtCourt of Appeals of Alaska
PartiesSHAUN KELLY WORTHEN, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Docket NumberA-13684
Decision Date14 September 2022



No. A-13684

Court of Appeals of Alaska

September 14, 2022

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Andrew Peterson, Judge. Trial Court No. 3AN-17-08889 CR

Jay A. Hochberg, Attorney at Law, under contract with the Public Defender Agency, and Samantha Cherot, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Alex Engeriser, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Treg R. Taylor, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Allard, Chief Judge, and Harbison and Terrell, Judges.

Shaun Kelly Worthen was convicted, following a jury trial, of third-degree misconduct involving weapons, under the theory that he knowingly possessed a concealable firearm after he had been convicted of a felony.[1] Worthen appeals the superior court's denial of his request for a mistrial.


Before the prospective jurors were questioned by the parties, each juror was asked to answer ten introductory questions in front of the group - including whether they knew anyone involved in the trial. At this time, one of the prospective jurors stated that she knew Worthen because she used to work as a correctional officer at the Anchorage jail and she had supervised Worthen while he was in custody there.

Worthen moved for a mistrial.[2] He acknowledged that the jury would already hear that he had been convicted of a felony as part of the criminal trial, but he argued that it was substantially more prejudicial for the jury to know that he had also been in jail. The superior court disagreed and denied Worthen's request for a mistrial, but it did excuse the prospective juror from participating in the trial. Worthen did not request a curative instruction and none was given at that time.

On appeal, Worthen renews his argument that he was prejudiced by the prospective juror's statement and asserts that the superior court erred when it denied his request for a mistrial. He further argues that the court erred by not sua sponte offering to give a curative instruction upon rejecting his request for a mistrial.

We disagree. As Worthen acknowledged, the jury was going to hear that he had previously been convicted of a felony as part of the evidence presented in the trial. Given this, the superior court could reasonably conclude that a brief statement acknowledging that Worthen had at one point...

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