The Newest Social Media-Related Request From Jodi Arias’s Defense Team

By | August 21, 2013

Social media, now more than ever, is impacting our criminal justice system in unique and unexpected ways. The most recent example of this can be found in the motion filed by Jodi Arias’ attorney’s, who are asking that jurors in her retrial be mandated to reveal whether or not they have a Twitter account.   

Jodi and Jen W“…Ms. Arias…ask (s) this Court [to] compel all jurors seated in her case to disclose any Twitter accounts…[as] this information is essential in that said information is a crucial tool with which Ms. Arias can work with to ensure that her jury are either not communicating about the case via Twitter or considering information that was sent to them via Twitter as opposed to what is presented to them in court.”

Her lawyers argue that even though jurors had received daily admonishments to refrain from communicating about the case, not all of them did. They noted that alternate Juror #17, Tara Kelley, used Twitter to communicate about the case, and “obviously misunderstood the Admonition and did not follow it…[though] counsel was unaware of the violations during trial.”

Her attorney’s noted that Ms. Kelley commented about Jodi’s temper on Facebook.

They also say that “in her retrial, Ms. Arias must endeavor to paint a complete picture of whom she is and why she deserves a sentence of life. In this regard she must be able to do so free from external influences of which she is not aware…Without the means to fully monitor the jurors this court cannot fulfill its duty to Ms. Arias, nor can Ms. Arias assert any concerns of this nature unless she has the means to monitor the Twitter activity of her jury.”

Jodi will be returning to court on August 26, 2013. It is expected that Judge Stevens could rule on this issue.

If the judge does rule in favor of Arias, would this mean that jurors will be prohibited from having a Twitter account, or any social media accounts?

If they are permitted to maintain their twitter accounts, would they have to reveal what they tweet and all of their interactions with others on Twitter? If so, who would be in charge of monitoring their accounts?

There have been no reports regarding what the prosecution thinks about this motion. It will be interesting to see whether they will respond to Nurmi and Willmott. Should the prosecution respond, they might take issue with the fact that Jodi Arias used Twitter during her murder trial, and continues to communicate via Twitter from behind bars.

Maybe Juan Martinez can use this opportunity to develop a creative legal strategy that will, once and for all, prevent Jodi Arias from using social media.

All in favor?

30 thoughts on “The Newest Social Media-Related Request From Jodi Arias’s Defense Team

  1. Michelle

    Here, here!!
    Get her OFF Social Media! There’s also a guy who I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever I see his posts…his name is Marling and he’s been on Twitter (@anthxeria) defending her, talking about how beautiful and smart she is and now claiming they are going to get married – even Photoshopping himself into her photos- (rolling my eyes)… and so it begins….

  2. Linda K

    Just sequester the jury. No need to invade the privacy of the jurors or subject them to potential threatening attacks on their social pages from the defendant. I can’t imagine Judge Stephens will grant this as it would establish a bad legal precedent. Nobody would ever want to be a juror ever again.

    1. NERN

      I would think that Martinez would speak to Arias’ own twitter account and maybe it can be shut down as she is trying to influence potential jurors.
      Yes – sequester the jury if need be.

  3. NERN

    What an absurd motion!!!! I believe it will backfire on her because of her own twitter account and all that she has done on social media for months and months. Who is trying to influence who?
    Juan will pick up on it and once again she will be angry at him cause he will be right!

  4. bellkurve

    revealing whether you have a twitter or facebook or social media account is just that – revealing your handle, if those medias apply to you. It would be up to the Defense team and the State to monitor those accounts to make sure they toe the line.

    they can’t suppress your entire first amendment rights and negate your accounts. You still have the right to contact family, do business, etc.

    Also, I think they’ll be doing a bit of data mining to not only ascertain whether they’re following JA, but their stance on other issues of politics, family, violence, etc. Twitter and FB are great modalities for finding out who you’re really dealing with, well beyond the regular voir dire questionnaires of potential jurors.

  5. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

    I don’t think this is such a weird motion. It’s entirely consistent with the judges admonition that jurors not communicate or read about the case online. Without knowing twitter accounts that jurors may use, the judge’s instructions have no teeth. I can’t imagine a legal reason why Judge Stephens would not grant the motion. Jurors have to reveal all sorts of things in voir dire. Facebook and twitter come up regularly in courtrooms (it did in the Zimmerman trial). I don’t see the defense doing anything improper or novel in asking for this information. Jurors must reveal their names, their addresses, where they work, their associations, what magazines they read, what tv shows they watch, if they have children, if they’ve heard or read about the case. This is no different and much more relevant. Easier for everyone to know upfront what twitter accounts jurors use so they can be periodically looked at rather than finding out in five years that a new trial is necessary because a juror was discussing the case online.

    1. NERN

      Maria C – you make good points, however, this is a master plan by Arias who is using social media to influence potential jurors and then making this ridiculous motion. Her twitter activity must be addressed.

    1. Don Osborne

      Thank you, Maria for providing the motion.
      ‘She has an absolute right to present mitigation evidence to the jury that will decide whether she lives or dies’.
      What rights did she afford her victim?

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        I understand Don. But the difference is that while the criminal provides no rights to the victim, that does not determine what rights of due process and fairness the state must give an individual. They are on two separate tracks unrelated to one another. The state is dangerous to all us–many innocent people get caught up in false accusations. In the end, it helps because we can then have a clean conscious when she’s punished.

    2. Linda K

      Maria, thanks for the link!

      Let’s assume the motion is granted and a list of all the juror Twitter accounts is provided to the Defense. Does that necessarily mean that Arias, herself, will also have access to the list?

      Here’s my concern. The Prosecution has one chance left at getting the DP for Arias. Obviously, the Defense is aware of this. What is to prevent friends and family of Arias from (a) obtaining the list and then (b) deliberately tainting the juror accounts with trial information forcing a second mistrial?

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        I think a lot of these things are done under seal Linda. The public didn’t have the jurors names, for example, but both sides had access to the list and at times asked specific questions of the judge regarding a juror. That’s how they started questioning the juror about the DUI (which from what I hear it was Juan who was the first to link the juror to an arrest and his office investigated).

        Both sides have an interest in maintaining the integrity of the jury. The prosecution gains nothing in opposing a motion like this. Jurors are instructed they must tell the judge if anyone tries to talk to them about the case. So if someone goes onto their twitter account to say stuff about the case, and they’re being honest, they just need to tell the judge. It doesn’t disqualify them for telling the judge.

        I know that media stories are the source of the suggestion this motion may be heard at the next court hearing on Aug 26th. But that’s never the case that a motion filed 5 days earlier is heard at the next hearing just because there’s a hearing. Motions require at least 10 days for a response, 5 more days for a reply and then a hearing is set. The only way this motion filed Aug 21st will be heard in a shorter period is if the prosecution agrees with the motion and agrees to an order at the next hearing or some time before it comes up for hearing under those time frames.

        1. Linda K

          Maria, I totally agree with you when you said, “Both sides have an interest in maintaining the integrity of the jury.” However, I still see this level of juror scrutiny as (1) an insult to each juror’s integrity and (2) a slippery slope of government intrusion. Why? Because one alternate juror failed to fully understand the admonition? I’m sorry but I see that as a failure of the court, not the jury system.

          As for the dismissed juror with the DUI, it’s my recollection he was dismissed because he simply told the arresting officer he was on the Arias jury which, apparently, constituted actionable misconduct by talking about the trial. If that’s truly all that happened, I think it was petty reasoning for dismissal. But if that is all it takes to get dismissed, think of the havoc Arias could cause if she were able to smuggle out a few Twitter handles to her supporters or family and they, in turn, tweeted prejudicial information and the proverbial bell could not be un-rung?

          1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

            Linda, I’m not sure where you heard the rumor about the DUI juror. But he was not dismissed for talking about the case. He was dismissed after 5 days of the prosecution (which prosecutes the DUI too) looking into it (transcripts released showed Juan talking about his office still looking into it). Committing a crime while on jury duty, one that will be prosecuted by the same office prosecuting the case you’re sitting on, and being so severely intoxicated the night before coming to trial that it cannot be assumed you will be fully alert doesn’t seem like a frivolous reason to be dismissed. So telling a cop that he has to be in trial the next day because he’s on the jury is not all it takes.

            I don’t see these twitter account requests as insulting any one’s integrity or a slippery slope of intrusion. Jurors are under examination all the time for whether they comply with the rules or have personal proclivities that would interfere with the fair administration of justice. Court is already an intrusion on any issue that has to be looked into for the proceedings to do justice. This is nothing different. Jurors mess up cases all the time for not complying with the rules. Better find out now than wait until the case gets overturned when their behavior gets revealed. Here’s another such story: http://law.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=law&cdn=b2b&tm=19&f=21&tt=2&bt=5&bts=5&zu=http%3A//www.reuters.com/article/2010/12/08/internet-jurors-idUSN0816547120101208

          2. Linda K

            Maria, I did a bit of sleuthing, trying to find where I heard that about #8 being dismissed for “talking about the case” to the officer — I thought it was from one of his post-dismissal, on-camera interviews but I can’t find it now. No matter.

            What I did find was this article which refreshed my memory about just how intoxicated he was. Your explanation of the reason why he was dismissed makes SO much more sense to me than the reason I thought I remembered hearing. Thanks for pointing that out!

            A couple of final comments on the Twitter thing then I’ll let it drop…

            Let me clarify that I’m not troubled over the jurors being asked to disclose whether they use Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media. I would agree it’s a fair inquiry for voir dire. What I object to is the request for both parties to be able to monitor their activity when it exists.

            I’d be less uncomfortable if the court appointed, say, a Special Master to oversee the social media activity… but even that concerns me. I’d rather see jurors who use social media simply excluded from service “for cause” than see their online activity monitored by mandate of the court. Granted, that could significantly reduce the size of the jury pool but it would provide a remedy which would address the concerns of the defendant.

          3. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

            Thanks for the link Linda. I guess we’ll see how the twitter thing works out. It seems like such a minor sacrifice for a juror to just not go on twitter during the trial. Problem solved.

          4. Linda K

            P.S. Regarding the article you linked regarding juror misconduct via internet usage…

            * At least 90 verdicts challenged since 1999, data show

            * More than half the challenges were in the last two years

            * New trials or overturned verdicts the result in 28 cases

            I was a bit surprised to learn these statistics are so incredibly low. I’m guessing there are tens of thousands of trials across the country every year.

            A Florida appellate court in September overturned the manslaughter conviction of a man charged with killing his neighbor, citing the jury foreman’s use of an iPhone to look up the definition of “prudent” in an online dictionary.

            Hunh? I’d say the foreman was being prudent to look up the definition of a word he didn’t understand but was being asked to impose judgment on. But hey, that’s just me. :)

  6. Chris

    I can actually feel my blood pressure tick up ever so slightly when
    another motion is filed.Next motion filed will be Nurmi asking the NSA
    to data mine all the juror’s accounts to make sure that Jodi’s rights are
    protected.

    1. Uppity

      Jodi LOVEs making people’s blood pressure rise. It’s what malicious, devious, evil Jodi is living for these days.

  7. Geri Bouwman

    Well now that this is out in the open answers the question I have been asking myself for a while now. The question was What happened to some of Jodi Arias tweets. There are several tweets missing from her Twitter account. This motion answered all too well. She cleaned out her account and deleted some of her tweets that would surely backfire on her. Those who read her tweets check it out. You shall see that some are missing. Crucial ones that surely could be used against her in court.
    And I so believe her family will tamper on the juror’s tweets. I have found quite few posts on FB recently that her family is not so innocent.

  8. Tracy

    Count me in Dr Randle!

    On one hand, I can understand Maria’s point of view. However, It wouldn’t be such a strange request IF Arias herself wasn’t on Twitter. If the motion is granted maybe Arias can keep the supporters and nix the haters. What next, will she be granted a laptop to keep an eye on jurors’ twitter accounts.

    Linda K makes a great point about Arias’ family and friends deliberately tainting juror accounts. I wouldn’t put it past them to do so. That’s dangerous territory, surely setting up a mistrial, perhaps that’s what the defense is aiming for in this motion.

    In the grand scheme of things if jurors want to research the case, talk about the case, etc. they will. They don’t need twitter or any social media to do so.

    I’m sure her attys are advising her which tweets to remove but alas they do exist and I’m sure Det Flores has screen shots of every one of them. I find it interesting that her tweet “early start to her book club…” is missing. I’m really looking forward to wonderful Juan’s strategy and maybe he will make reference to her tweets, book reviews and websites in the next phase. But then again, he may have a better plan Dr Randle, wouldn’t it be wonderful if he was able to get her removed from the internet (tweets, websites, book clubs, art, shirts, etc) once and for all!

  9. Phill

    Seems we’re losing sight of who is on trial here. A juror does not have to “prove” anything. If we’re going down this slippery slope, shouldn’t a defendant be subject to lie detector tests and/or sodium pentathol injections while on the stand to “prove” they are telling the truth?

    1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

      Here’s a good article on how lawyers should routinely ask about twitter–and many are asking, including in the Conrad Murray and George Zimmerman trials. Convictions have been overturned when jurors are later discovered to have used social media to look up information (even searching the dictionary for a legal term is off limits) or communicated about being on the jury. (I actually agree that Tara was wrong to tweet about being an alternate juror while deliberations were still going on and she was not yet released–that in itself is talking “about the case.”)

      http://law.about.com/od/trialtechniques/a/Social-Media-Use-By-Jurors-In-The-Courtroom.htm

  10. Uppity

    I think Jodi just wants some one-on-one time with those jurors to grill, intimidate and threaten them. Her psychopathic eye contact alone would melt metal. As for the publicity, I agree that the country wouldn’t even give a damn about her trial if SHE didn’t plaster her face all over their TV sets with outrageously lying interviews. She has done more damage to herself than any TV network could possibly do to her and it was deliberate. Jodi is a most devious little freak, isn’t she? She is the one who has been dragging this retrial along, delaying it, and providing grist for the mill she is deliberately creating. Then she has the audacity to complain that she can’t find a jury who doesn’t know what a sack of crap she really is.

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