People across the country and around the world are talking about the Jodi Arias murder trial. The trial of 32 year old Arias began on January 2, 2013 and has captivated a national audience through extensive gavel-to-gavel coverage by the HLN network. The trial is streamed online as well. For those of you who are just now tuning in, Jodi Arias is standing trial for the June 4, 2008 murder of her 30 year old former boyfriend Travis Alexander. The brutal nature of the murder and the sordid details of the relationship the two once shared has drawn in viewers and catapulted ratings.
But for many people who have been waiting more than four years for this case to go to trial, it has become somewhat personal. I find it fascinating that you don't have to have known the murder victim to be passionate about justice being served. People on both sides seemingly have drawn a virtual line in the sand, with those lined up on the side of the State on one side and those who support Arias, the defendant on the other. It's interesting to say the least. We have seen similar public interest and outrage in other recent trials, the Casey Anthony trial, the Scott Peterson trial, the Drew Peterson trial and the mother of all media trials - the OJ Simpson trial. The interest in criminal trials may explain why television shows such as "CSI", "Law and Order" and other popular shows have enjoyed long running rating success.
Those involved in high profile criminal trials often become household names. Remember Kato Kaelin and Judge Ito from the OJ Simpson trial? Catchphrases are coined, think "if it doesn't fit you must acquit". Witnesses on both sides are put under the microscope and lives are often turned upside down. Jurors were barred from public restaurants after delivering an unpopular verdict in the earlier referenced Orlando trial of Casey Anthony. In the Jodi Arias murder trial, it's the defense's expert witnesses who are feeling the red-hot heat from the public. Dr. Richard Samuels was highly criticized for shoddy reporting and errors in his assessment of murder defendant Jodi Arias. Alyce LaViolette is the latest defense expert to feel the public backlash for her testimony in the high profile case.
LaViolette appears to have done some good work in her chosen field, working with battered women at a time when even law enforcement discounted "domestics". She spent more than 30 years working in this area, she's a published writer and paid speaker. However, her one-sided assessment of this case seemed flawed and her refusal to admit that data provided by a lying client could render her opinions as incorrect cost her dearly in the court of public opinion. LaViolette reportedly has been overwhelmed by a barrage of negative e-mails, scathing reviews of her upcoming book on Amazon.com and a wave of negative comments throughout social media channels caused her to seek treatment for anxiety and palpitations at an emergency room last weekend. She and the defense team have reported receiving death threats.
AZCentral.com quoted retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields who said "It's the electronic version of a lynch mob", in speaking about the negative attacks on LaViolette. Sree Sreenivason, chief digital officer and professor of journalism at Columbia University said she's never seen anything like the attacks on LaViolette. The onslaught of online attacks were serious enough to prompt a meeting in Judge Stephens Chambers last week. Could this be the ongoing issue Judge Stephens was referring to when she ordered LaViolette to return to court on Tuesday of this week? Hmmm. Just wondering.
Rick Kenworthy confirmed that ABIP Training in Los Angeles has received numerous calls requesting that LaViolette be removed from their speaker's list, according to AZCental.com. As we know from this trial, ABIP provides training for abuse counselors. A friend of LaViolette's also confirmed that their Long Beach office has received numerous angry phone calls and at least one threat serious enough that police were called. My question is this: are people going too far? How can you tell when a line is being crossed? I have my personal thoughts and opinions about Alyce LaViolette's work in this case. However, if these threats become an issue for this trial, then I'd say things are going too far.
People can choose not to buy her books and not to seek her out for therapy. But threats of a violence nature should never happen. Who will be next on the witness stand? Will LaViolette testify that Humpty Dumpty's fall was caused by Travis Alexander? Will Arias tweet an apology to Alyce LaViolette, or will she have pal Donovan Bering create a positive review of Alyce's book on Amazon? Will Arias sketch a photo of Jennifer Willmott dressed like her twin? Will Kirk Nurmi actually fall asleep in the court room? Anything is possible in this trial.