The news surrounding the Jodi Arias penalty phase retrial has started to pick up as the September 8th start date approaches. Jodi Arias Motion to represent herself was granted by Judge Sherry Stephens recently, the second such request Arias has made during her time in the legal system - however, it appears she is having second thoughts about her strategy as she has told Judge Stephens she is willing to "stand down" and not act as her own attorney if they allow Kirk Nurmi to withdraw from the case.
Arias wants to keep Jennifer Willmott on, who she apparently has a better rapport with and if Nurmi were released that would mean the Court would have to assign another attorney to her case - death penalty cases require that the defendant have two qualified attorneys as well as a mitigation specialist. Prosecutor Juan Martinez's interactions with Arias in non-pubic court hearings have made it clear he does not intend on making things easy for Jodi Arias either way. He has aggressively objected to her requests for delays in starting this trial - citing the fact that when Arias argued in favor of representing herself, she agreed to the time schedule and knew what she was up against. It's time for this trial to resume and this case needs to come to an end!
Here is the latest minute entry from August 13, 2014 denying Arias' request to have Nurmi removed:
Court and counsel discuss matters.
Advisory counsel Kirk Nurmi’s Motion to Withdraw is heard.
IT IS ORDERED setting Evidentiary Hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Continue Trial on 8/22/14 at 1:30 p.m. in this division.
Filed Under Seal: State’s Objection to Defense Request for Deposition
9:01 a.m. Matter concludes.
This case is eFiling eligible: http://www.clerkofcourt.maricopa.gov/efiling/default.asp.
Attorneys are encouraged to review Supreme Court Administrative Order 2011-140 to determine
their mandatory participation in eFiling through AZTurboCourt.
IT IS ORDERED denying Advisory counsel Kirk Nurmi’s Motion to Withdraw.
Judge Sherry Stephens has been thought of as being very lenient to this defendant and her defense team - but on this point, I'm happy that she is standing firm and not allowing Arias' shenanigans to dictate how this trial is going to play out. What is said to be at the heart of the discord between Arias and Kirk Nurmi is trial strategy - Arias says Nurmi has a "utter poverty of people skills" and she says he hasn't visited or talked to her since they lost the case in chief. I don't know if that's true, but I'm sure Jennifer Willmott has been working with Arias and we all know the lead attorney doesn't necessarily always do all of the legwork. Whatever works for that particular defense team is usually sufficient.
Apparently when Arias decided she was the best person to represent herself in the penalty phase retrial, she wasn't thinking of how difficult it would be for her to interview witnesses from behind bars. This is true, but she had to have known this wouldn't be easy. I think this is like a chess game to her. She probably knows that it is generally not a good idea for defendants to self-represent at trial, even when you aren't going up against a tough veteran prosecutor who knows this case like the back of his hand and is seeking to send her to Death Row. Was this all a ploy, to get the Judge to let Nurmi withdraw - since she has stated she would end her bid to represent herself on those terms? Is she thinking about the appeal potential with the Judge allowing her to represent herself versus keeping on a "qualified" attorney who has been on the case all along but doesn't necessarily like her as a person?
Arias is all over the map here - it seems she's trying to work the system but there's no way Judge Stephens is going to allow Nurmi to walk away because of the time and resources it would take to get another qualified attorney up to speed on this case would be outrageously high. The taxpayers have already shelled out $1.7MM for Jodi Arias' defense! What about the victim's rights? Doesn't Travis Alexander have the right to a speedy trial, or does the defendant have all the rights in this country? Let's get this trial back on track and stop the delays. Jodi Arias is playing a dangerous game of chicken by trying to force the Judge into letting Nurmi off the case. It seems like a transparent attempt to me.
Let her act as her own attorney. It probably won't be pretty! Even if she's spend every waking minute since she's been in custody reading law books, there's not a chance in hell that she would be prepared for going up against Juan Martinez or any other experienced prosecutor. Law school is tough for a reason - she's no attorney, and she's certainly not death penalty qualified but if that's what she wants to do that's her right. The Judge has ruled she is legally competent to make that decision, so let her live with it and let's get the show on the road!!