Jody Arias is not exactly known for being good at making decisions. She’s in the position that she is in now, solitary confinement at the Maricopa County Estrella Jail, because of a very long history of many, many bad decisions. To put it mildly. Her latest decision is one that is surprising many people, but in the same vein, those same people are not surprised at all that once again Jody Arias will do what ever she could to take the spotlight. And, as the well of her last 15 minutes of infamy begins to dry up, she has thrown it all into the ring. ABC News reported on August 4 that the last major life changing decision that Jodi Arias will make is that she will be representing herself in the retrial of the sentencing phase of her first degree murder conviction from last year’s Jodi Arias trial. True story.
There are a lot of opinions fanning about social media upon the announcement, with the loudest one being one heard over and over again,
“Prosecutor Juan Martinez must be really laughing his bleep off now.”
If the good tax paying people of Arizona thought that they would get a little bit of a break in costs, after already shelling out over $2.1 million for every delay of Jodi’s, unfortunately they are mistaken.
Jody Arias representing herself is not going to save the state of Arizona any money in the way of legal fees, her current public defenders will remain on the case as her advisors according to ABC News. ABC News reported yesterday that Jodi’s current public defenders Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Wilmott will still be working alongside her, but in an advisory role.
With the number of delays that Jodi Arias has become famous for, those that are tax paying citizens of Arizona are probably the most concerned by this latest development in the Jodi Arias trial.
Jodi Arias was convicted by a Maricopa County jury of her peers last May and found guilty of killing Travis Alexander in June 2008. As Reuters described the murder,
“Travis Alexander was found slumped in his shower, stabbed multiple times, his throat slashed and shot in the head.”
Reuters confirmed with spokesperson for Maricopa County Superior Court Vincent Funari that now, Jodi Arias will be representing herself when it comes to the sentencing for this brutal killing.
How did this turn of events occur?
Reuters reports that Jodi Arias appeared in court on Aug. 4 for a status conference, during which she made a formal request to represent herself.
Jennifer Wood, a court reporter who owns, reports for, and writes for The Trial Diaries has been in the court room for almost every Jodi Arias appearance since her first trial ended. She was in the courtroom sitting behind the table for the defense when this epic change in circumstances for the Jodi Arias trial occurred. Jennifer reported yesterday on what it was like to be in that courtroom,
“Jodi was escorted in wearing her stripes that said ‘not sentenced’ on the back. The jingling of her chains were a reminder she’s a convicted murderer of Travis Alexander but the side swiped pony tail she was wearing made her look very childlike distracting from the jailhouse attire perhaps. This was only elevated when she put on her glasses to round out the look.
Judge Stephens asked Jodi if she was going to submit a motion and still wanted to voluntarily represent herself, Jodi responded ‘Yes,’ but she wanted to discuss it further in an ex parte.
Judge Stephens then began to question Jodi on why she needed to ask her in private and Jodi stated she wanted to further discuss her representing herself and some evidence she’d like to present. Judge Stephens granted the ex parte and all of us including the State were cleared from the courtroom.
We were all let back in and Jodi Arias with her stripes and shackles made her way up to the podium to address Judge Stephens. Judge Stephens went down the list of what will be expected and what Jodi will face if she chooses to go forward. Judge Stephens warned her this is a complex death penalty case and that Jodi will be on her own.
Jodi said she understood.
Judge Stephens asked her if she had any law background, a criminal justice degree or any type of schooling on the subject, Jodi said “no.” Stephens then asked her if she was on medications, Jodi Arias said ‘yes. The judge asked if these would prohibit her from acting as her own attorney, Jodi stated ‘no.’ “
The Trial Diaries reported that it is a move that was strenuously objected to even Judge Sherry Stephens stressed and cautioned her against making this decision, that it was not in her best interest. Judge Stephens also answered the question that many might have, would Jodi Arias be able to appeal a sentence on the grounds of ineffective counsel?
The Trial Diaries reported,
“Judge Stephens answered it and told Jodi she could not. If Jodi does decided at any time she wants to bring a lawyer back on she can, but Judge Stephens made it clear there’s no going back and they would only move forward and she wouldn’t get a “do over.”Jodi agreed this was made clear to her.
Judge Stephens urged Jodi to not do this, that it really wasn’t in her best interest and Jodi with confidence stated she wanted to move forward with representing herself. With that the judge granted the motion and Jodi Arias is now in charge of her own re-trial in the penalty phase of what some call the trial of all trials.”
That’s one of the most interesting results from this most recent case conference. After Jody spent six very long months and years blaming everybody else for her bad decisions Judge Stephens has put it on record today that she will not be able to do this in the future.
Was this as bad an idea for Jodi Arias as the judge suggested?
It’s not the biggest gamble considering her position. She is spending the rest of her life in prison, even if she really messes this up. The only question really is, how much time will she win…or lose for herself.
ABC News spoke with Daniel Horowitz, a defense attorney working out of the San Francisco area and he said,
“It’s actually probably a good idea to represent herself. She looks like a vicious psychopath with a ridiculous defense. The jury may find her pathetic. If she can get just one juror to bond with her on some level, even if they hate her, they’re getting to know her, and it’s harder to kill someone you know.”
Thus far, the only education Jodi Arias has is a GED that she has obtained while incarcerated for the first degree murder of Travis Alexander. So this is going to get interesting.
Could this be why Jodi Arias fought so hard to keep cameras out of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial? Or can we expect to see motions appear where cameras will suddenly be allowed back in once Jodi Arias takes center stage in her own defense?
ABC News also spoke with another defense lawyer, one that has worked in Maricopa County as a judge and also as a federal prosecutor. What does Mel McDonald think about this decision,
“I think generally that anybody that represents themselves has a fool for a client, but it also gives her a way, if she’s out there making a fool of herself, to maybe invoke some sympathy from a juror.”
What are the chances that Jodi Arias will be successful in representing herself?
Well, a known former Maricopa County judge has said the old adage, anyone that represents themselves has a fool for a client. But that it could work.
There have been a few high profile cases of self-representation that have not been successful. The politician Tommy Sheridan that self-represented in a 2006 civil case against News of the World won, but he lost in the criminal trial in 2010 and is now serving a three year sentence according to the BBC. The BBC also reported that Heather Mills did not do very well when she self-represented in her divorce against Paul McCartney. Although Heather settled at over 14 million pounds, it paled in comparison to the 125 million she was seeking.
How Jodi Arias will fare when she self represents in her own due process remains to be seen, if nothing else, her fate really and truly is in her own hands now more than ever.
The Trial Diaries also reported yesterday that Judge Stephens has ruled there will be “no further delays” and the retrial of the sentencing phase in the Jodi Arias trial will begin Sept. 8 as scheduled. Jury selection will begin Sept, 8, and there will be no recording or airing permitted of the trial until after the verdict is read.
Some of the evidence the new jury will see is included in the slideshow, as well as in the related video of the unedited clip of the Jodi Arias police interrogation when she was arrested for the murder of Travis Alexander, and claimed she knew nothing about it.
If the jury reaches a unanimous decision, Jodi Arias sentencing will occur in one of a few ways. Jodi Arias will either spend her life in prison, or on death row. If she receives life in prison she will be eligible for parole in 25 years. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed from consideration and Jodi Arias will be sentenced to life in prison and will still have the eligibility for parole in 25 years.
What do you think of this latest twist in the Jodi Arias trial for the Jodi Arias sentencing? Do you think she will file a motion to get the cameras back in and take the spotlight front and center once again?