In a trial that unquestionably had intense mostly one-sided trial coverage, Judge Sherry Stephens granted the defense’s motion to not have live video coverage of the trial because intense publicity causes partial jurors and diminishes the likelihood of a fair trial.  The court will allow still photographic coverage.  The court will release video coverage following the sentence being announced.  Reporters will not be allowed to live tweet or use social media inside the courtroom.  The reasons for this decision were sealed.

“The court expects there will be significantly less media coverage of the case during the retrial of the penalty phase,” Stephens wrote.

The judge however denied three other defense motions.  One was a change of venue.  The court found no basis that local coverage created a presumption of guilt or that jurors could not set aside the information they have acquired.  The court however, said that they would not be able to inquire about potential juror exposure until voir dire.  The judge went on to say that the Maricopa County jury pool is large enough to assure impartial jurors and that changing the venue will create logistical issues and an expense that the judge found had no good cause.

The judge also denied the individualized voir dire motion.  The judge ruled that the procedure followed at the first trial afforded the court ample opportunity to explore relevant inquiry and to evaluate striking jurors with preconceived notions.  The judge went on to say that the jury questionnaire can be made comprehensive enough to cover subjects that would be the topic of individual voir dire.

“While the Court acknowledges there are unique concerns that have arisen because of the substantial publicity surrounding the case, the revised jury questionnaire may be expanded to address these issues. Since jurors will be questioned in small groups, the defendant’s concern that one juror’s statement might color an entire jury panel’s outlook is minimized. The Court acknowledges that it may be necessary to question some jurors individually. The Court’s procedures will allow for that to occur…”

The court will use the same procedure as at trial with minor revisions.  The court plans to summon 400 potential jurors.

“Jurors with preconceived notions about the appropriate sentence will be excused,” Stephens wrote.

Jodi Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in May.  Under Arizona law, a mistrial in the sentencing phase, allows prosecutors to decide between pursuing another penalty phase with a new jury or to drop the death penalty.  If the second jury fails to agree on a sentence, the judge would sentence Arias to either life in prison or 25 years to life.

The jury will not be sequestered for the duration of the new sentencing phase, which is expected to last two months.  No retrial date has been set.


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