Many are alleging that the First Amendment is licking its wounds today, after the ruling came out yesterday that Judge Sherry Stephens was maintaining a firm position on a previous ruling that blacked out the retrial of the penalty phase of the State versus Jodi Arias, trial for the murder of Travis Alexander. After media attorney David Bodney spent a year preparing his arguments asking Judge Stephens to rule on the side of the First Amendment, she listened politely but reverted back to a previous ruling that kept the trial under wraps from the media until after the verdict is read. As AZ Central reported on Sept. 22, “in other words, the reason is a secret.”
In 2013 Jodi Arias was convicted of first degree murder for the brutal slaying of her lover then 33-year-old Travis Alexander. 34-year-old Jodi Arias was also found eligible for the death penalty in 2013, but her 2013 jury was deadlocked when it came to sentencing and could not pass a unanimous vote. Those first two phases of the Jodi Arias trial were aired live and in open court. Since then however, Jodi Arias has been using camera motions among many other motions to delay the inevitable, her sentencing.
The camera motion before the courts has been to determine whether or not the live airing of the Jodi Arias trial could happen again. David Bodney has been arguing that it is a First Amendment right of the American people to see the sentencing phase of this trial live again. He has also argued that Arizona taxpayers who have shelled out over $2 million dollars for the defense alone in this trial, deserve the opportunity to see it shortly after the events occur.
The motions have been discussed in court at length since the May 2013 guilty verdict, with a final ruling on the matter this week. AZ Central reports that on the matter Judge Sherry Stephens says,
“The court is mindful of its obligation to allow public and media access to the trial. The access should not include live broadcast of the trial prior to a verdict for the reasons addressed in prevoius sealed proceedings.”
Or, as AZ Central said, in other words the reason she is keeping the trial from going live, is a secret. And yet some in favor of this decision are still arguing that Judge Stephens is ruling with transparency. AZ Central also said,
“This is a gross overreaction and a dangerous one at that.”
Judge Stephens is allowing tweeters and bloggers to use technology in the courtroom, and a camera will be taping the proceedings. The world will not be able to access a view of that however until after the verdict is read. AZ Central feels this is a dangerous precedent for a judge to set. The public outcry from this has echoed similar sentiments. Many of the public have speculated that an elected official is behaving very dangerously.
Do you agree?
There has been a growing consensus that Judge Sherry Stephens has been holding a bias for the defendant since day one. Many decisions seem to go the defendant’s way, the camera ruling is just one example. Those following the case can cite many. Have they really gone her way though?
Judge Sherry Stephens is leaving no room for appeal, that is certainly evident. While to some that may seem she is favoring the defendant, in other areas it appears that she behaves very decisively and effectively. A motion on the case that came before the Maricopa County Superior Court yesterday showed that Judge Sherry Stephens is not about to set any more dangerous precedents.
Jennifer Wood court reporter and writer for The Trial Diaries wrote yesterday that Jodi Arias “jingle jangled” her way into court yesterday in her jail stripes and her shackles. Along with her defense team she appeared in court to argue a motion to compel and a motion to quash. The item in question in the motion to quash was a number of death threat letters allegedly sent to certain members of the press corps in addition to certain members of the defense team in Spring 2014.
Kirk Nurmi contended that a number of death threats had been received by members of the press corps Jane Velez Mitchell and Nancy Grace, as well as by himself and fellow defense team member Jennifer Willmott. He asked the courts to admit this information and these letters into evidence for the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.
Arguing for the State, Juan Martinez asserted that the matter of death threats was irrelevant to the penalty phase of the retrial of Jodi Arias and even said that for the defense to ask Judge Stephens to intervene on this matter was “inappropriate.” Judge Stephens agreed, showing that she concedes that death threats to the press, or anyone, is a matter for law enforcement to deal with and irrelevant to the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.
The death threats in question will be protected from the jury pool writes Jen Wood from the Trial Diaries. Jennifer also learned in court yesterday that the State has confirmed that Vernon Parker will be on their witness list. Vernon Parker is reportedly a Mormon Bishop from Riverside, California. From a cursory look online he is a revered and inspiring individual. It will be very interesting to see what he has to say in the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.
Do you think the death threat info is relevant? Do you find this information a little bit of a coincidence when we look back at how Jodi was manipulating the press in the Spring of 2014?
Many readers will remember when we reported that Jodi took a swing at the press and the result was an epic fail. Right around the same time that Nurmi and Nancy Grace were receiving death threats, Jodi Arias was allegedly filing restraining orders against the same parties. At least, that is what one of her co-horts attempted to leak to the media.
We reported on it in early May, that alleged defamation suits were being filed by Arias against Sheriff Joe Arpaio as he was allegedly causing her “imminent danger and bodily harm.” Additionally Nancy Grace was allegedly the subject of a restraining order from Jodi Arias.
If that report, and what we learned about in court yesterday is true, that would mean that in March Nancy Grace received a death threat, and was then served a restraining order from Jodi Arias in May. Does that make sense to you? Likely not. Sheriff Joe Arpaio can be seen in the video here, debunking the spring news that Jodi Arias had filed a defamation suit against him.
That seems to be a growing trend shrouding the conspiracies and secrets of the Jodi Arias camp. We do know that death threats mentioned in court yesterday have been sealed and will have nothing to do with the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.
Meanwhile, over at the Maricopa County Jail, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has also chosen to go full stop when it comes to anything to do with the media and inmate No. 438434. Just after the ruling on the media ban from inside the Maricopa County court came down, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his infinite wisdom and good timing chose to hand down a media blackout of his own.
In a press release released by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Sept. 22, Sherriff Joe Arpaio called a full stop to all media inquiries for inmate Jodi Arias. The press release stated,
“In anticipation of a likely flurry of requests by local and national media to interview convicted killer Jodi Arias, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered his media relations unit to turn down those petitions.”
And for those that are wondering whether or not Sheriff Joe is onto the notion that art is being smuggled out of his jail, the answer is yes. In his press release he made his position on that very clear. He is on it. In the press release Jodi Arias was accused of “self aggrandizement”, and Sheriff Joe assured the public she is being very closely watched as a result of recent events.
“Arias has continued her attempts at self-aggrandizement. From her closed custody cell, she appears to be manipulating persons on the outside to help build her prestige by having them sell her artwork and personal items. Arias even attempted to have a documentary film team into the jail to feature her story.”
As we previously reported on Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it was revealed that Jodi Arias was trying to manipulate the jail to allow in a documentary film maker whose past work includes work with domestic abuse survivors. We’ve also reported some peculiar events surrounding the auction of “personal items” such as glasses and artwork, and how “persons on the outside” may be manipulating those events.
To this request for the documentary film maker, Arpaio refused. Yesterday’s press release was an official full stop to all members of the media regarding interviews for inmate number 438434. Sheriff Joe says,
“I know there is a good deal of interest in this inmate. She probably has been the highest profile inmate ever in this jail system. But she’s had her 15 minutes of fame and any further attempts to convey her thoughts through interviews with the media will not be permitted while the penalty phase is ongoing. “END.
Who do you think Sheriff Joe Arpaio is onto when it comes to the smuggling of artwork? We know that mitigation specialist Maria de la Rosa has already had her wrists slapped for the very thing. We also have reported that multiple sources have connected her to the auctions of the “personal items” of Jodi Arias. Additionally sources have connected a man named Ben Ernst to the auctions and Jodi’s financial empire as well.
We have confirmed that Ben Ernst has a home base in Iowa. So what would the chances of it being him that is doing the fair share of the smuggling?
At any rate, the media will not be allowed access to this inmate at any time during the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial. In court, at the jail, it will all have to wait. All of those that were concerned about how Jodi played the media, a term that Arpaio refers to as “self-aggrandizement”, can be alleviated. Jodi Arias will receive a fair trial, and until the verdict is read, she will have no media outlet to complain to otherwise.
What do you think? It’s a good thing. The First Amendment might be stinging a little, but Judge Sherry Stephens and Sheriff Joe Arpaio presenting a united front on this means, justice will be served. Manipulations being planned on their watch will come to a full stop.