MONICA LINDSTROM

Legally Speaking: Appeals decision is step closer to end of Arias legal saga

Mar 27, 2020, 4:15 AM
(Tom Tingle /The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool,File)...
(Tom Tingle /The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool,File)
(Tom Tingle /The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool,File)

Is this the end of the Jodi Arias legal saga? Knowing her desire for attention and notoriety, I doubt it, but it is one step closer.

Why am I bringing the case up? Why am I giving it attention? Because it was a very influential case for our legal system and society, and people are still entranced by it.

Just this week, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued two decisions, neither of which were positive for Arias or the prosecutor in the case, Juan Martinez.

That being said, four and a half years after her sentencing, her defense team and Judge Stephens finally get some vindication and support for the hell they went through.

In fact, Kirk Nurmi, Arias’ lead defense attorney, had this to say about the decisions:

“ In April of 2015, Ms. Arias was provided the opportunity to speak in advance of her sentencing. In what I believe to be her attempt to inflict further pain on the Alexander family, Ms. Arias used a portion of this opportunity to admit committing the crime of first-degree murder against her former lover. Given this admission, any subsequent trial would logically end in the same result and only serve to provide Ms. Arias a forum from which to inflict further pain on Mr. Alexander’s family and loved ones as well as his legacy. Thus, I am thrilled to learn that the Arizona Court of Appeals has denied Ms. Arias’ appeal.

On a personal level, this result pleases me because my court ordered association with Ms. Arias infused my life with a great deal of pain. Pain that I can begin to heal with more fervor today as her conviction is now one step closer to being final and I am no longer a member of the Arizona State Bar – meaning the ties that might otherwise bind me at this stage of the proceedings have been removed and I can begin to respond to the allegations Ms. Arias made against me in the media, her lawsuit and her presumably upcoming claims of my ineffective counsel with the sort of vigor worthy of the person who brought public shaming and cancer into my life.”

Convicted murder Jodi Arias, left, and defense attorney Kirk Nurmi. (AP Photos)

Back in 2013, I was given the opportunity to watch and commentate on what was originally thought to be a “run of the mill” murder trial, if there is such a thing.

That trial turned into the trial of the year, decade and maybe even the century – and I had a front row seat to witness all the shenanigans that changed the legal system, society, the lives of many and ultimately caught the ire of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

During the trial that started in December 2012 and lasted until late 2015, the prosecutor Juan Martinez was hailed as the hero, the defense team was vilified and Judge Stephens was ridiculed. In its decisions, the Court of Appeals turned all that on its head.

(Twitter Photo/Kirk Nurmi)

Arias appealed her conviction and sentence by arguing everyone except her acted improperly, most significantly, Juan Martinez. The Court made quick work of the majority of Arias’ arguments by explaining Judge Stephens acted properly and “defense counsel and the defense experts were composed and comported themselves professionally in the courtroom, notwithstanding the intense public scrutiny.”

The most significant parts of the decisions were when the Court addressed Martinez’s actions.

Now, let me first say that Juan Martinez was a fantastic PROSECUTOR. “Was” because he was recently fired from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. He was diligent, passionate, smooth, unshakeable, clutch, and ice-in-the-veins to use some sports vernacular.

That being said, I remember numerous times he would make me feel very uncomfortable in the courtroom because I thought he was going too far (both ethically and legally). However, I couldn’t do his job and never wanted to, so who was I to judge? Well, I don’t have to judge because the Court of Appeals did just fine on its own.

The prosecutor’s actions that made the court of public opinion love and worship him are those the Court of Appeals criticized. The difference between #legallyspeaking and society. Here are some of its comments that just might make your head spin:

· “Contrary to the principles of justice, and in violation of his ethical duties, the prosecutor in this case regularly used aggressive questioning techniques and innuendo to intimidate and malign defense witnesses.”

· “It is clear that the prosecutor improperly engaged in self-promoting conduct. His efforts to gain personal notoriety were beneath the office he held as a representative of the State of Arizona in the matter.”

· “As a minister of justice, the prosecutor represented the government, not himself or his personal interests. This prosecutor lost sight of his role.”

· “Arias’ conviction stands today not because of the State’s devotion, above all else, to the pursuit of justice, but in spite of the prosecutor’s willingness to put self-interest, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement above his duty to maintain the integrity of our judicial system.”

· Judge Jones even wrote he was “comforted by the fact the jury was able to see past the sickening, childish conduct of the State’s attorney…”

Does the Court’s criticism of the prosecutor really matter? Not when it comes to the outcome, the Court upheld Arias’ conviction by writing “In sum, we conclude that Arias was convicted based upon the overwhelming evidence of her guilt, not as a result of prosecutorial misconduct.”

So, what happens now? #LegallySpeaking, Arias will stay in prison, Judge Stephens will remain on the bench, Juan Martinez will move on to another job or retirement, Kirk Nurmi will continue his journey to heal and inspire others, and most importantly, Travis Alexander’s family will continue their healing knowing there will not be another trial…for now.

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Monica Lindstrom

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Legally Speaking: Appeals decision is step closer to end of Arias legal saga