By Michael Kiefer, AZcentral.com, 8/27/2013:
Jodi Arias loves the media, and, to her detriment, the media love her.
But as she potentially nears retrial this fall, her attorneys are busily filing motions to keep her from being burned by the same coverage that scorched her during her first trial.
On Tuesday, they filed a motion for a change of venue to move her trial out of Maricopa County, citing research that 70 percent of the media coverage in Arizona of the first trial took place there.
Her attorneys also want live TV coverage prohibited for the retrial, the right to question new juror candidates individually about what they have seen of the case in the media and a list of Twitter accounts for those jurors to ensure they are not following news about the trial.
Arias was in Superior Court briefly Monday morning, but Judge Sherry Stephens told the attorneys that she had not had time to decide on the other motions before her in the case. She set a date of Sept. 16 to hear oral arguments on the matters.
Stephens had hoped to bring the case back to trial by the end of September, but the delay in pretrial procedures makes that goal more and more unlikely.
The defense attorneys, Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, have three other motions before the court, all of which have to do with heightened media coverage, which they feel denies Arias the right to a fair trial. Coverage of the trial went viral, through live-streamed broadcasts of day-to-day hearings and an aggressive national TV audience.
The motion asking that the attorneys be provided the Twitter handles of any future jurors was filed because it came to light that at least one of the jurors in the first trial had been in contact with a journalist through Twitter.
Nurmi and Willmott also filed a motion to allow them to ask individual questions of prospective jurors to assess how much they have already been influenced by media coverage, including a made-for-TV movie with fictionalized scenes.
The movie, for example, suggests that Arias killed Alexander after finding a message from another woman on his phone; that she sent Alexander photos of herself having sex with another man; and that she once followed him into a men’s room in Las Vegas.
None of those incidents took place, but they have been regarded as truth by some movie viewers.
The defense attorneys also asked that live television coverage be prohibited during the retrial, citing the fact that the defense attorneys and some defense witnesses were harassed and threatened by people following the trial through those media.
Two witnesses, domestic-violence expert Alyce LaViolette and Patricia Womack, a former friend of Arias’, refused to testify during the sentencing portion of Arias’ first trial and will not participate in the retrial because of threats made against them.
The Arias publicity has already affected media coverage of two other high-profile murder retrials in Maricopa County Superior Court. The judge in the Johnathan Doody temple-murder retrial banned TV cameras in the courtroom last week after one local station accidentally broadcast the faces of jurors sitting in the jury box, which is prohibited by law in Arizona.
And the judge in the Debra Milke murder retrial does not allow the use of electronic devices in her courtroom, which means that there can be no real-time coverage via social media.
Arizona law, however, generally comes down on the side of the media, especially regarding cameras in the courtroom.
“No case in Maricopa County in recent memory has attracted more interest than the Arias trial,” said David Bodney, a First Amendment attorney who represents The Arizona Republic, 12 News and other media outlets. “The defendant’s attempt to ban camera coverage would effectively deprive the public the opportunity to observe the sentencing phase of this case. A viewer blackout would thwart the public’s ability to follow the Arias trial to its conclusion without any corresponding benefit to the parties or the process.”
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WE ARE TEAM JODI – AND WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS in our quest for JUSTICE FOR JODI.
NEVER DOUBT IT FOR ONE SECOND.
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