Arias prosecutor Juan Martinez faces formal complaint from State Bar

Mar 6, 2019, 8:57 AM | Updated: 5:25 pm
(AP File Photo)...
(AP File Photo)
(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX – The Maricopa County prosecutor in the Jodi Arias murder trial faces allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior with a juror, according to a complaint filed by the State Bar of Arizona.

Juan Martinez gained a measure of national attention during the sensationalist court proceedings. He was accused in documents of having an affair with a blogger who was covering the 2013 trial and leaking the identity of a juror to her; making unwanted advances to members of the office staff and giving false statements in a deposition.

“If I need to take action as an employer, I will,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

He added the chances of the investigation affecting the outcome of the Arias verdict and prison sentence – life without parole – was far down the road, but “I’m sure the defendant hopes it would be [affected].”

During the penalty phase of the retrial, the court papers alleged Martinez described the juror as a holdout to the blogger and said he/she should be dismissed. Martinez also shared physical attributes of the juror, the paperwork said.

The blogger passed along all the information to a reporter who later figured out the juror’s identity. Attempts to have Juror 17 taken off the case failed.

A juror who had been dismissed, according to the court document, began texting Martinez, sometimes including revealing photos of herself. His responses were said to have asked about the jury’s mind-set.

Martinez was investigated in 2017 for possible ethics violations for what he wrote in a book about the Arias case and in 2015 when he was accused of violating professional conduct standards.

The book was published shortly after the trial concluded. The review committee dismissed the charge but noted the decision and timing of the publication was of great concern because the book contained information that wasn’t necessary for the public to know and didn’t serve law enforcement purposes.

Martinez Complaint by on Scribd

“Similar allegations were raised in a bar complaint that was actually dismissed as part of the bar disciplinary proceedings,” Montgomery, who is Martinez’s boss, said.

The State Bar said in an email the nine-member Arizona Supreme Court probable cause committee hears cases to determine if there is enough reason to hold a formal hearing.

After a complaint has been filed, the respondent has 20 business days to file a reply.

“These are some very serious allegations against Martinez,” KTAR News legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said.

After a response is filed, a hearing likely would be scheduled. Sanctions could follow and disbarment is a possibility.

“I want to be very careful and respect the due process rights of an employee, who is also covered by merit rules in the county employee system,” Montgomery said.

Martinez’s attorney Don Wilson told the blog Law and Crime his client looked forward “to the opportunity to defend himself and be exonerated from this Bar charge.”

Arias was found guilty in 2013 of the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

She testified that she killed him in self-defense, stabbing him nearly 30 times and slitting his throat at his home in Mesa in 2008. Alexander had also been shot.

The explicit nature of Arias’ testimony drew worldwide attention.

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Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, left, approaches the podium as county prosecutor Juan Martinez steps down during a news conference to discuss the outcome of the Jodi Arias sentencing retrial, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Phoenix. A judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the Arias sentencing retrial after a jury deadlocked on whether the convicted murderer should be executed or sent to prison for life for the 2008 killing of Travis Alexander.(AP Photo/Matt York) Prosecutor Juan Martinez cross examines Jodi Arias during the Jodi Arias trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Arias is charged in the June 2008 death of her lover in his suburban Phoenix home. She says it was self-defense, but police say she planned the attack on Travis Alexander in a jealous rage. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool)
Prosecutor Juan Martinez asks defendant Jodi Arias a question about her diary during cross examination in Maricopa County Superior Court, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 in Phoenix. Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle, Pool) Prosecutor Juan Martinez presents his final arguments during the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias retrial at Maricopa County Superior Court, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Mark Henle, Pool)
Prosecutor Juan Martinez addresses the jury on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, during the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. If the jury finds aggravating factors in her crime, Arias could be sentenced to death. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher, Pool) Prosecutor Juan Martinez makes his closing arguments to the jury on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 during the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in the stabbing and shooting to death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home in June 2008. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher, Pool) Prosecutor Juan Martinez, right, talks to Detective Esteban Flores during the Jodi Arias trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Arias is on trial for the killing of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2008. Arias claims self-defense but faces a potential death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool) Judge Sherry Stephens listens to prosecutor Juan Martinez, left, and defense attorneys Jennifer Wilmott and Kirk Nurmi during the murder trial of Jodi Arias in Maricopa County Superior Court, on Monday, Feb 4, 2013, in Phoenix. Arias is charged with murder in the 2008 death of her boyfriend Travis Alexander. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Mark Henle)
Prosecution attorney Juan Martinez walks back to his seat after questioning witness Gus Searcy in the murder trial of Jodi Arias at the Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, in Phoenix. Arias is charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, and prosecution is seeking the death penalty.(AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Charlie Leight) Prosecutor Juan Martinez, right, questions Lonnie Dworkin, a computer forensics expert, as he testifies during Jodi Arias' sentencing retrial at Maricopa County Superior Court, Thursday, Feb 12, 2015, in Phoenix. Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in May 2013 in the 2008 killing of former boyfriend Travis Alexander. However, jurors deadlocked on her punishment. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Cheryl Evans, Pool)

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Arias prosecutor Juan Martinez faces formal complaint from State Bar