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Legally Speaking: Reversal in Jodi Arias case possible, but not likely

(Associated Press photo)

Did Jodi Arias win again? The answer to that question is in the hands of three judges at the Arizona Court of Appeals. My prediction is no, but there is always a chance.

Arias was convicted and sent to prison in 2015 for the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander. On the way there, she lost the guilt phase of her trial but won not once, but twice, in the punishment phase when she escaped the death penalty. Fast forward four years later and she is looking at another possible win.

On Oct. 16, Arias’ appellate attorneys tried to convince Judges Jones, Campbell and Brown, that Arias deserved not only a new trial but the right to walk away free and never be tried for Alexander’s murder again. The basis for the argument? Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Juan Martinez.

At the oral argument, each side had 30 minutes to sway the judges to their side. Counsel for Arias laid out the reasons how Mr. Juanderful violated her right to a fair hearing.

She explained he committed various acts of misconduct including harassing and intimidating witnesses, ignoring Judge Stephens’ orders, insinuating there was an inappropriate relationship between a defense expert and Arias and fanning the flames of the media. The argument being that the cumulative effect of these actions obliterated Arias’ due process rights to a fair trial.

The State came right back and argued, with a straight face, that it did not matter what Martinez did. It didn’t matter if he bent the rules, was rude, made things up or signed autographs on the courthouse steps. Nothing he did can outweigh the overwhelming evidence of Arias’ guilt.

The judges did not completely buy the State’s argument nor did they the defense’s argument.

They appeared equally skeptical to both sides. However, there was one thing the State said that I think will resonate with the judges more so than anything else. He said it is inappropriate and unlawful to punish a prosecutor for misconduct by reversing a conviction when there is overwhelming evidence of guilt. The proper avenue for punishment is a bar complaint. (I am paraphrasing).

Martinez has his hands full with misconduct complaints including those issued by the State Bar and those made within his own office. In fact, news surfaced on Friday that another complaint, one for sexual misconduct, has recently been filed against him with MCAO. The punishment referred to in the oral argument might be just around the corner.

#LegallySpeaking, the Judges now have their hands full dissecting the trial, the allegations against Martinez and understanding/applying case law. Will they reverse Arias’ conviction? My crystal ball tells me it is possible, but I don’t think it is likely.

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