Jodi’s attorney’s filed a new motion for “individualized voir dire in sequestered proceedings” (i.e. have extended time to personally question jurors) and to prohibit cameras in her retrial.
“…Jury selection began in Ms. Arias’ initial trial on December 10, 2012. Approximately 275 potential jurors were summonsed to court. These jurors were time screened by the jury commissioner and then brought into court in large groups for further preliminary questioning. Those who remained were then given questionnaires. After the questionnaires were reviewed groups of approximately 12 to 18 jurors were then questioned by the parties, Prior to questioning jurors were advised that if any of the questions were too personal they could answer them privately. Apart from those few exceptions, over Ms. Arias’ objection, no other individual voir dire took place.
At this time, few jurors had heard of the Arias case or had any familiarity with counsel for either party. However, at that point in time the media coverage about the case was minimal. CBS aired one special on the case and only a few local stories mentioned the case. Obviously these reports did not cover the content of the trial since the trial had not started. Since that time the media coverage exploded in both quantity and content.
Between January 4,2013, two days after opening statements and May 31, 2013, eight days after a mistrial was declared, the media reports are beyond numerous. The Data disc (Exhibit A) that serves as an exhibit to this motion provides the following data for news coverage relating to Maricopa County for four months:
Television News Stories: 2,540;
Print Media: 205 stories;
Intemet pages related to Maricopa County Publications AZCentral.com: Jodi Arias
Travis Alexander: 1,200 links;
AzFamily: 875 results related to the trial.
These numbers are for Maricopa County local news only. They do not account for the national media reports. Many national media repofts were aired on HLN and were highly critical of and biased against Ms. Arias.
Other forms of media are also relevant to this motion. The Lifetime Network aired its own movie several different times “Dirty Little Secrets.” Per the Nielsen Rating System “Dirty Little Secrets” had 3.1 million viewers. Of concern to Ms. Arias as it relates to jury selection is that this particular movie contained mostly false information about the relationship between Ms. Arias and Mr. Alexander, such as Ms. Arias following Mr. Alexander into a restroom in Las Vegas and that Ms. Arias killed Mr. Alexander after she became enraged because Mr. Alexander received a text message from a woman shortly after Ms. Arias had sex with Mr. Alexander on June 4,2008. As it relates to publications, it appears that at least 4 books will be published about the trial and/or Ms. Arias before her retrial will begin.
In a related motion Ms. Arias will be requesting that prospective jurors be provided with a questionnaire that inquires about what, if any media reports or productions, they have seen about the case. Should a prospective juror admit to having seen anything or having read anything related to the case, Ms. Arias will want to enquire related to what they have reviewed and whether they believed the information that was presented to them. The validity of this area of inquiry is beyond question. There is obvious danger that one juror who had seen a report about the case or some other form of fictitious media might taint the other member of their group with this “information” if they are questioned in groups.
Interwoven amongst all these facts is the reality that the next jury seated to judge Ms.Arias will be seated for one purpose and one purpose alone, to determine if Ms. Arias is to be sentenced to life in prison or to death.
With regard to Arias’ motion to limit or prohibit live media coverage in the sentencing phase, part of the issue involves the fact that neither Alyce LaViolette nor Patricia Womack are willing testify on her behalf : “Neither are willing to participate in future proceedings.”
They also claim that nearly “every witness who spoke on Ms. Arias’ behalf was threatened to some degree and that counsel for Ms. Arias was also threatened. In this regard, Ms. Arias would point out that these threats were serious and included a bomb threat made against the entire courthouse on or about May 10, 2013 and while certainly the arrest of David Lee Simpson occurred after the initial proceeding were concluded, Mr. Simpson’s threats against media members, at a time when he had the means to carry out his threats exemplifies the kind of fervor that live media coverage of this trial generated. …The fact that these types of threats are occurring and that attempts to actualize these threats could be made during any retrial; Ms. Arias takes the position that restricting coverage will at the very least minimize the fervor that has seemingly motivated these threats.”
You can read the 35-page motion here.
What do you think? Have they made their case?