As we await the mid-September court date in the never ending Jodi Arias penalty phase retrial, I have a few common sense suggestions to get this train wreck of a trial back on the rails. There are several outstanding motions put forth by Arias’ defense duo – these motions are not new to the public, and therefore they certainly have been on the table for Judge Sherry Stephens to ponder since the August 5th deadline she gave both sides to file such motions. What I don’t understand is why these motions were not being considered between the deadline filing date of August 5th and the status hearing on August 26th. I know judges are busy people, juggling multiple trial dates along with their many other responsibilities but come on…..I started this blog because I was shocked and outraged about this case and what happened to Travis Alexander – the photos, the lies, the stolen gun, the ex boyfriends, the stalking, the sex tape and the Cancun trip made this a story that caught the attention of the media and the public. My family and friends were not as interested in discussing the trial as I was, and I needed an outlet to seek other like minded people. I was surprised at how many people felt the same way and returned to this blog and let their thoughts and insights.
After viewing the trial and the revolting trial strategy of Jodi Arias and her defense duo, and the subsequent non-verdict at sentencing, coupled with the newest series of delays has turned this blog into my own personal venting page. I apologize for that! Like most people out there, I just want to see resolution to this trial in my lifetime! I have some simple common sense suggestions to Judge Stephens in regards to these outstanding motions – compromises, if you will. These solutions would seem to be neutral to both sides and not greatly affect the outcome of the retrial. Arias has already been convicted of first degree murder, half the battle has been fought and won. All that’s left to decide is whether a jury believes Arias’ life should be spared or if she deserves the ultimate punishment. A new jury will write the last chapter of this sad story.
On the motions: Change of Venue – Nurmi and Willmott have argued that due to the media saturation in the Maricopa County area, finding an impartial jury that hasn’t been exposed to extensive news coverage and/or already formed an opinion is unlikely. Let’s face it, although the media may have been present at the trial venue, the trial was covered on a national level – people all across the good old U S of A know who Jodi Arias is. She’s made sure of that, calling her own press conferences immediately following her conviction and after her arrest – her constant “tweets” and online art auctions all have aided Arias in keeping the spotlight directly on her. She shares the blame for the media coverage, as she seems to be thriving in her new found convict status. My compromise idea is to hold the retrial in Maricopa County, but choose the new jury from another jurisdiction and bus those jurors in to the Superior Court Building for the trial. They successfully did this in the Casey Anthony case. I believe the citizens of Maricopa County deserve to see this trial finished in their county. So choose the jury from another county, transport them to and from the trial.
Sequester The Jury: The defense wanted jury #1 to be sequestered, but that motion was denied by Judge Stephens, who felt it was an unnecessary cost and burden to the jurors during what was sure to be a lengthy trial. Potential jurors may be less inclined to want to serve on a jury if it meant being away from their families for 5 months straight. You can’t blame them. I think sequestering jury #2 would be a good idea, erring on the side of caution and in the interest of getting this trial moving along. Sequestering a jury is a burden to the jurors, but it is a good way to put to rest the defense’s concerns about jurors seeing outside news about the trial. At this point, cost shouldn’t be an issue for the state. I say sequester them, provide them with movies and other activities to make their time less mundane since they will not have access to regular television or newspapers and limited access to their family and friends. It’s a small price to pay to fulfill such a vital civic duty. Sequestering the jury does not help or hinder the prosecution or the defense. It levels the playing field, just do it!
Defense Wants Jurors To Disclose Twitter Account Information/Social Media – The motion specifically mentions Twitter (alone) to the best of my knowledge. The judge’s admonishment covers ALL media, however it appears one of the alternate jurors may have been busted for an exchange with media during the trial. But the judge and the defense needs to acknowledge that Jodi Arias herself attempted to influence the public by her tweets, facilitated by friends on the outside during her own trial. She’s guilty of discussing the trial more than any juror or alternate. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
The defense wants individualized voir dire of jurors – I don’t see a problem with this motion either. It actually helps the prosecutor as well as the defense. We want to ensure this jury is REALLY DEATH QUALIFIED and we want to know they would be willing and able to hand down a death sentence regardless of their personal belief system relating to capital punishment. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the process. During group voir dire, potential jurors may be afraid or unwilling to be 100% honest on their personal beliefs, wherein if they were questioned in the judges chambers outside of the earshot of other potential jurors they may be more willing to be completely honest in vocalizing their beliefs either way. We’ve heard so much about how difficult some jurors found it to give Arias the death penalty, as if they would somehow be responsible for her death. This simply isn’t the case. If sentenced to death, the blame falls squarely on Jodi Arias herself. Not her attorneys, not the media, not the “haters”, not the Alexander family, not Travis Alexander – and not even her wooden-spoon yielding mother!! This jury needs to understand the law and how to apply it by weighing the aggravating factors against any mitigating factors. It can be as simple as that. The jury needs to not feel responsibility for “killing” anybody. They are applying the law.
Those are my suggestions of the motions I’m aware of, in a nutshell. These are all common sense compromise-based solutions to the issues Judge Stephens is facing going into the retrial. My hope is that in that next mid-September status hearing, she will have decided to rule on these motions and is ready to set a date for the jury selection process. No more extensions, this should be it. A jury found Jodi Arias guilty on May 8, 2013, nearly 4 months ago! Initially, she wanted to start jury selection in July, and the defense team had scheduling conflicts and have been seeking to delay it into 2014 ever since. Please, please, please Judge Stephens – don’t let this happen. This isn’t a new case, these aren’t new issues and the state has been ready since May 9th. Let’s get this train back on the track and go full steam ahead to Justicetown (did I really say that??). I’m getting a little corny, a sign that I should end this entry. I hope you have all had a great Labor Day weekend, and I hope to see your comments and thoughts on these suggestions. Until next time……