Legally Speaking: The Jodi Arias trial is a battlefield
I think it was Pat Benatar who once sang that “love is a battlefield.” Well, I think the words should be changed to the “the Arias courtroom is
Trial resumed Monday in State v. Jodi Arias with the
continued cross examination by prosecutor Juan Martinez of defense
expert Dr. L.C. Miccio-Fonseca, and it was a battle of wits and wills.
But before the jabs and crosses were thrown between these two, lead
defense attorney Kirk Nurmi decided to lob a punch of his own, at the
Nurmi requested Judge Sherry Stephens sanction the media for
taking a picture of Arias during the hearing this past Friday. He argued
the media violated the rule regarding pictures in the courtroom when a
picture of Arias was taken while she was in her jail outfit and talking
at counsel table. Judge Stephens previously ruled that pictures could only be
taken of Arias during testimony and not while conferring with her
attorney or team.
The sanction requested was not just a little slap on the wrist. Nurmi
requested the court remove all cameras from the courtroom, both the
video camera and the still camera.
David Bodney, the attorney representing the media in the Court of
Appeals issue, was present and countered that the media in no way
violated Judge Stephen’s previous ruling. He further argued that it was
a still photo and complied with both the ruling and the spirit of the
Nurmi tried to argue that anytime Arias is sitting at the counsel
table she is essentially “conferring” with counsel. It was a
valiant effort on counsel’s part but Judge Stephens saw the holes in the
argument and denied the motion.
Next came the Battle Royale and the jury had front row seats. Dr.
Miccio-Fonseca and Juan Martinez continued their tumultuous and highly
antagonistic conversation throughout the entire day.
exchange between the two would go something like this:
Juan Martinez: Could you read what this says right here? (referring to a
text message or email)
Dr. Miccio-Fonseca: Again, we should not be distracted by the sexual
behavior…I am here to explain the dynamics of the relationship between
Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias…not to diagnose…
This repeated response was undoubtedly confusing for the jury
considering the doctor testified directly about the sexual aspects of
the relationship between Arias and Alexander. The fact that she kept
stating this could hurt her credibility. Ding, ding, ding.
This contentious behavior continued when Martinez would ask a yes or no
question. Dr. Miccio-Fonseca would dig her heels in and explain she
could not answer yes or no. Judge Stephens would then allow her to give
a lengthy answer. This happened many times, which resulted in the
prosecutor allowing the longer explanations. Ding, ding, ding.
There was a tie though, and that was for the word of the day. It was
between “distracted” and “slime.”
Dr. Miccio-Fonseca made it very clear
that she would not “go down slime alley” or “slime road” in regards to
misstating her testimony.
I write this only to show that this witness is
not a wilting flower, she continues to stand firm and strong under the
prosecutor’s scrutiny. With that being said, she is straddling a fine
line. If she continues to be combative and strong willed, she could end
up isolating herself from the jury and be seen as condescending.
Considering even I was losing patience with the exchange between these
two, I can only imagine how the jurors feel.
With that being said, we may never know how the jury feels about these exchanges and this
particular witness. But I can tell you that by the end
of the day, everyone — including Dr. Miccio-Fonseca and Martinez, appeared
just flat out exhausted.
Court will resume on Tuesday and then be dark for the rest of
You can follow me on Twitter at @MonicaLindstrom for live
tweets about the trial and from the courtroom.