Today Oct 5 and then the 18 Oct 2013 – Pre-Trial Hearings in the Jodi Arias murder case are being held in private; closed to the public by the Judge. It is extremely unusual for a hearing of this nature to be closed to the public. But the Judge obviously feels there are extenuating circumstances attached to the case, which I believe is true and therefore this is the right course of action. Jodi Arias was convicted of first degree murder in Maricopa, Arizona in May this year 2013 but the jury was unable to reach agreement when it came to the sentencing phase regarding whether or not she should receive the death penalty.
The defence lawyers, quite reasonably in my view, want the retrial moved out of the Phoenix metropolitan area because of the inevitability of excessive publicity. Will the Judge change the location of the trial to outside Maricopa County? That would be a big decision which at this stage looks unlikely.
Will the jury be sequestered as the defence are seeking? Meaning they can’t go home during the trial and would be monitored throughout as closely as kindergarten school-children. Numerous television news shows and newspaper coverage about the five-month trial, as well as the made for TV movie ‘Dirty Little Secret’ screened in June is said to have attracted 3.1 million viewers. The argument is that the same intense publicity and media scrutiny that surrounded the trial would also be prevalent in the second penalty phase as well, thereby making a fair trial difficult to achieve. I must say that I think the fact that the original Jury was not sequestered has already had an adverse effect on the whole trial. The Judge should make amends for that error during the penalty phase.
Monitoring of Twitter is an important issue and the defence want the judge to compel all jurors, eventually seated, to reveal their Twitter user names so the accounts can be monitored to ensure they aren’t communicating about the case.
Can an impartial jury be found in Maricopa County? Some people believe, yes, as there are apparently 3 million residents. Even with that number I think it will be difficult to find anyone in the County who knows nothing about the case and has no preconceptions. It seems that potential jurors will be interviewed by the prosecution and defence attorneys in private. I believe this is normally done collectively. So this could take a long time but offers the possibility of a better outcome of the selection process.
Will the Judge allow live media coverage of the death penalty phase? The pressure to do so will, I’m sure, be immense. I suspect she will allow media coverage but with the imposition of strict controls.
Then we have the Settlement conference on 24th Oct. The prosecution have been adamant about seeking the death penalty all along but there is a feeling that there may be a plea bargain deal in the air. That would definitely rule out an appeal and Life with no possibility of parole seems to be the likely scenario if a plea bargain is struck. For me a deal would probably bury the truth, if not forever, for a very long time. Previous Jodi Arias post.