Monday marked the beginning of the end for Jodi Arias. Jury selection in the State v. Arias case has started.
Around 9:30 a.m. the first panel of 100 potential jurors were led up to the courtroom. Waiting inside were the judge, her staff, the attorneys and Jodi Arias herself. Arias was dressed in a sweater with her now shorter hair in a ponytail and watched the proceedings through what appeared to be a different set of glasses than she wore in the first trial (at last check she was trying to sell her old glasses).
After swearing them in, Judge Sherry Stephens proceeded to ask the potential jurors a series of questions. It was the same set of questions for each of the three panels and in the same order.
The first significant question was whether they could follow the jury instruction that instructs them to make a decision based solely on the evidence presented in the courtroom. In other words, could they set aside anything they may have learned in the media prior to today and make a decision based solely on what would be presented to them in the courtroom.
The first panel had a handful of people who indicated they had already made up their mind. As the day went on, there were more potential jurors in panels 2 and 3 that indicated the same. After a short pause augmented by the awesome white noise effect, these jurors, in each panel, were excused. By my calculation, this resulted in the dismissal of just over 20 percent of the potential jurors.
Judge Stephens then explained the jury would not be sequestered and, if selected, the jurors would need to be self-disciplined regarding watching the media and participating on social media. Put simply, they would not be allowed to watch the news or read print media and would have to remain diligent in regards to social media. This question resulted in another large number of jurors being excused because they would not be able to follow that rule, largely because of their professions, and, in reality, can anyone really stay off Facebook?!
At the end of the day and after another couple questions and dismissals there were approximately 50 percent of the potential jurors left of the starting 300. The “survivors” will now be required to complete a juror questionnaire and return to the courtroom at a later date for further questioning in smaller groups.
Later this week another 200 potential jurors will go through the same process and those that are not dismissed will be added to the pool to complete the questionnaires and return at a later date.
Yes, this process is taking a long time. Yes, it will continue to take a long time. History has shown us that nothing happens efficiently in this case and I doubt that will change. I will continue to keep you updated on the twists and turns on Twitter at @KTAR923, @MonicaLindstrom, on Facebook and at KTAR.com.