(CN) – The Alaska Supreme Court declined to declare a mistrial in a contract case after the city of Kodiak’s lawyer called a charter-boat operator a drug dealer.
Darren Byler’s Alaska Wilderness Adventures Inc. sued the city of Kodiak after a customer canceled a 12-day trip. The customer had spoken with the city’s harbormaster, who did not dispute a rival boat operator’s bad reports about Byler.
The reports included allegations that Byler had abandoned a hunting party on a windy island and had towed another party in a boat through dangerous waters.
Byler persuaded the judge not to include evidence pertaining to Bylers’ past Fish and Game violations, civil lawsuits or criminal convictions.
The case was rescheduled, and the second judge did include the evidence of Byler’s past.
Judge Carpeneti ruled that the second judge had this discretion, which included the allowance of the drug-dealing allegations, because he immediately issued a curative instruction to the jury.
“Byler has not met his heavy burden of demonstrating an obvious mistake that erroneously influenced the jury in a consequential matter,” the judge wrote.