No Surprise Here: Jodi Arias Prepping to Defend Herself in Upcoming Trial

According to the website “The Trial Diaries,” Jen Wood, who attended the most recent Jodi Arias hearing, learned some interesting, though not entirely surprising news: Jodi Arias is prepping to represent herself at her upcoming sentencing trial.Jodi DP2

Big shocker, I think not. Jodi Arias’ ego demands that she do this. She is, after all, in her view, the smartest person in the room. Smarter than all of those people who studied the law and graduated law school and successfully practiced law for years. Smarter than Juan Martinez, her would-be opponent, who has practiced law for maybe longer than she has been alive.

This is not the first time Jodi chose self-representation. Early on, she fired her attorneys and felt that she, and she alone, could serve as her best legal representative. I would submit to you that individuals who choose to represent themselves in high-profile cases, especially when facing death, have a high degree of belief in themselves. Some might say arrogant, narcissistic or perhaps mentally ill.

The research about self-representation is relatively minimal. J. Decker (1996) argued that “Some defendants may proceed pro se to symbolize their lack of respect for any kind of authority, . . . or because they are unable to get their way and so represent themselves as an act of defiance” (p. 485).

Decker also believed that these defendants “may be cleverly manipulating the criminal justice system for their own secret agenda (p. 486–7).

Even if there is no hidden motive behind wanting to represent oneself in court, Decker thought that these individuals were “…so totally out of touch with reality that they believe they can do it all themselves” (p. 487).

Psychological reasons for self-representation were explored by Cabell (2012). A person might feel self-empowered representing themselves in front of the jury.

Control is another factor. If an individual is controlling their own defense, then they may be able to convey a more realistic picture of the issues than they believe their appointed counsel could convey.

Some defendants may feel as though they have something important to gain by personally arguing their defense. If they can control the communication with the jury, then they can fully explain themselves and ultimately sway the jury to side with them.

In Jodi’s case, she may believe that given an opportunity to tell her version of events, she’ll be able to sway the jury to forgo the death penalty. She’s good at lying and has probably spent every moment spinning a new variation of her self-defense theory.

She may think that she is good with people but by all accounts, she rubs people the wrong way.  She might also rub the jury the wrong way. It is a very big risk.

Thanks to CNN (who successfully argued for her retrial to be televised), we’ll see Jodi’s ego on full display (albeit not until after the verdict has been reached), should she decide to represent herself.

It will be a case to remember.

References:

John F. Decker, The Sixth Amendment Right to Shoot Oneself in the Foot: An Assessment of the Guarantee of Self-Representation Twenty Years After Faretta, 6 SETON HALL CONST. L.J. 483, 522–23 (1996).

Kennedy Cabell. Calculating an alternative route: The difference between a blindfolded ride and a road map in pro se criminal defense. Law and Psychology Review. 36: p259. (2012).

Jodi Arias Judge Reluctant To Set Sentencing Trial Date

A hearing was held for Jodi Arias to determine when her case will resume. Jodi Arias was convicted of premeditated murder but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on a sentence.

Today’s hearing lasted only three minutes. Judge Sherry Stevens said she “hopes” that the trial will resume in September. For now, she set a new status conference for August 26, 2013.

Courtroom reports indicate that both sides met in closed chambers before the official hearing making it difficult to know why the judge did not have a more definitive answer about when the sentencing phrase of the trial will begin.

There was no decision on the motion to vacate the aggravator, which determines if Jodi Arias is eligible to receive the death penalty.

In essence, we still don’t know when the sentencing trial will begin.

Courtroom observers noted that Jodi has gained weight and was wearing her hair in a bun. She was dressed in prison stripes and surrounded by armed guards.

Richard Chrisman, Juan Martinez’s Next High-Profile Case 

It’s possible that the repeated delays are related to another upcoming high-profile trial set to begin at the end of July. Juan Martinez will be prosecuting ex-Phoenix police officer Richard Chrisman. Judge Sherry Stevens will be presiding. Mr. Chrisman is accused of shooting an unarmed man and his dog in 2010. He has been charged with murder and animal cruelty.

The key prosecution witness in the Chrisman trial is Officer Sergio Virgillo. Officer Virgillo witnessed the shooting. Virgillo was standing right next to Daniel Rodriguez, the victim, when the two were “grabbing each other.” Officer Virgillo said he looked away after Mr. Chrisman pulled his gun and fired. Officer Virgillo stated that neither he nor Mr. Chrisman were in any danger and that lethal force was not required.

Mr. Chrisman’s attorney called Officer Virgillo’s version of events a “fairytale.”

Prosecutor Martinez will likely highlight a well-documented 2005 incident in which Mr. Chrisman planted drugs on a mentally ill homeless woman. Though Mr. Chrisman said it was a prank, he was suspended for one day by the Phoenix Police Department.

Mr. Chrisman is also on the Brady List, a database of police officers who have “questionable integrity.” Many of the officers listed on the Brady List happen to be from Maricopa County.

News reports have indicated that Mr. Chrisman’s trial has been continued for a total of nine times.

It appears that continuances are not uncommon in Judge Sherry Stevens’ courtroom.

Prosecutors Request Judge Deny Defense Request to Delay Retrial

Jodi Arias’ defense attorneys recently filed a motion to push back the penalty phase of her trial until January 2014 due to scheduling conflicts. Mr. Nurmi will be out of the office quite a bit in July. Jennifer Willmott has five different trials set for the summer of 2013. … Read more

Jodi Arias Trial: Dr. Robert Geffner, Defense Witness

Dr. Geffner was a likable but ineffective witness for the defense. He spilled his water twice while on the witness stand, and apologized for burping out loud. He also was a bit disingenuous, which is another way of saying he engaged in deception. I’ll go into that deception later in this article. … Read more

Jodi Arias Trial: Did The Defense Score Big On The Reflection In The Eye Picture?

Without the jury present, the defense brought in an expert witness who had blown up and enhanced a reflection in the center of Travis’s eye. The expert testified that he had performed a number of procedures to enhance this reflection. His conclusion? He said that he could clearly see Jodi Arias holding the camera and holding no weapon. … Read more