Court documents reveal debate around Jodi Arias holdout Juror 17
PHOENIX — After a second jury failed to sentence convicted murderess Jodi Arias last week, there has been much ado about Juror 17.
Court documents released Tuesday revealed Juror 17 was at the heart of several issues, but was cleared of any wrongdoing by the court.
Often referred to as the “holdout juror,” the unidentified woman was the only vote against the death penalty on the 12-person panel. Her fellow jurors alleged she was difficult to deliberate with and had seen snippets of a Lifetime film about the case. HLN host Nancy Grace said, if that was the case, she should have been excused.
Here are the issues surrounding Juror 17, along with the reasons she was allowed to stay on the jury:
The stubborn juror
Though other jurors claimed post-trial that Juror 17 refused to participate, the documents showed she became a more willing participant in deliberations after Judge Sherry Stephens read the jury a modified impasse instruction and urged them to come to a consensus.
Juror 17 told Stephens she was reluctant to participate because the other jurors did not value her opinion and she was being harassed with details and photos not essential to the trial.
Juror 17 also said she refused to eat lunch with other jurors so she could remain as impartial as possible.
The Lifetime movie
The documents showed Juror 17 was upfront about having seen the film.
“I caught parts of it,” she wrote in a juror questionnaire. “I’ve never watched it through and wondered how much of it was facts or opinions but didn’t stay up at night about it.”
The court found no misconduct on the juror’s part.
‘The Secret’ and the search
On March 3, the state filed a motion to remove Juror 17 after it was learned she had seen “The Secret” and allegedly researched “The Law of Attraction World,” an idea from the aforementioned book. The state contended she had ignored a court warning.
Juror 17 explained she had read “The Secret” and seen the film two years prior to serving on the jury. She said she had not researched “The Law of Attraction,” but knew about it before becoming a juror.
The problem with social media
The state claimed it knew Juror 17 had seen “The Secret” because she had liked a Facebook page associated with the book. It also claimed she liked numerous news outlet pages and was on the social media site while serving on the jury.
Juror 17 admitted to using Facebook in the early stages of the trial, but discontinued using it because she did not think it was a good idea. The Facebook concerns were dismissed after the state said it would take two weeks to subpoena the social site for her records. It was also found other jurors used Facebook while serving.
The court said it had no choice but to presume the jurors obeyed instructions to avoid trial news.
On March 4, Arias’ lawyers filed a motion for mistrial. They alleged the court had attempted to change Juror 17’s opinion by individually questioning her.
Under Arizona law, for a trial court to be guilty of coercion, it has to meet three requirements:
The court had to be aware of the numerical split when giving the impasse instructions;
the instructions had to focus on the holdout;
and new evidence or information was given to the jury during the instructions.
The court failed to meet at least two standards and the coercion request was denied.