It was an interesting day at the Maricopa County Courthouse today for a Jodi Arias hearing that took a very attention grabbing twist. As the reporters awaited entrance into the hearing we didn’t hold out much hope of getting in since so many hearings are hit and miss, but we were all pleasantly surprised when we learned it was an “open hearing!” All of us grabbed our phones and notepads, and rushed to the door to find out the latest in a case that is nothing short of surprises.
I grabbed my seat in the second row behind the defenses table; I wanted to have a good view of what was going on and why not the gallery was pretty much empty. The lawyers went to a sidebar and we were waiting the arrival of Jodi for the hearing to officially begin. Jodi was escorted in wearing her stripes that said “not sentenced” on the back. The jingling of her chains were a reminder she’s a convicted murderer of Travis Alexander but the side swiped pony tail she was wearing made her look very childlike distracting from the jailhouse attire perhaps. This was only elevated when she put on her glasses to round out the look. Immediately Jodi and Jen Willmott were engaged in a very active conversation that seemed to last quite a bit. Juan Martinez was patiently sitting at his table with Detective Flores once again by his side. Nurmi was looking through paperwork and we were all just waiting to see what was going on. Judge Stephens asked Jodi if she was going to submit a motion and still wanted to voluntarily represent herself, Jodi responded “Yes,” but she wanted to discuss it further in an ex parte. Judge Stephens then began to question Jodi on why she needed to ask her stuff in private and Jodi stated she wanted to further discuss her representing herself and some evidence she’d like to present. All I could think about was “wow, OK, Jodi is really going to go for this!” Judge Stephens granted the ex parte and all of us including the State were cleared from the courtroom.
As everyone waited outside the courtroom the halls were buzzing with the talk of Jodi representing herself at the re-trial. Not only would this be a Juan vs. Jodi showdown of epic proportion, this unlocked a lot of interesting access to maybe even Jodi herself. The visions of her addressing the potential jury pool, witnesses and investigators really put a spin on this case that took it to a higher level of crazy! We were all let back in and Jodi Arias with her stripes and shackles made her way up to the podium to address Judge Stephens. Judge Stephens went down the list of what will be expected and what Jodi will face if she chooses to go forward. Judge Stephens warned her this is a complex death penalty case and that Jodi will be on her own. Jodi said she understood. Judge Stephens asked her if she had any law background, a criminal justice degree or any type of schooling on the subject, Jodi said “no.” Stephens then asked her if she was on medications, Jodi Arias said “yes.” The judge asked if these would prohibit her from acting as her own attorney, Jodi stated “no.” The list went on and on but one question I was dying to hear was can Jodi claim ineffective counsel after this is all over, Judge Stephens answered it and told Jodi she could not. If Jodi does decided at any time she wants to bring a lawyer back on she can, but Judge Stephens made it clear there’s no going back and they would only move forward and she wouldn’t get a “do over.” Jodi agreed this was made clear to her. Judge Stephens in a way I haven’t seen her before urged Jodi to not do this, that it really wasn’t in her best interest and Jodi with confidence stated she wanted to move forward with representing herself. With that the judge granted the motion and Jodi Arias is now in charge of her own re-trial in the penalty phase of what some call the trial of all trials.
Yet, in a routine fashion Kurt Nurmi couldn’t escape without standing up and telling the judge he really still wants to withdrawal and that strategy in this case between Jen, Nurmi and Jodi aren’t really going to jive. The judge told Nurmi that if they had conflicts with strategy they needed to see her immediately so she could get it all straightened out. So Nurmi stays along with Jen on trial but now will be in an advising role for Jodi Arias. While I’m sure they are wanting to pull their hair out daily…yes Nurmi now has a nice head of hair, it may not be long before Jodi has some regrets. As the hearing was winding up Jodi asked the judge for one more thing. She wanted her investigator to go to the Mesa PD and collect some evidence. That brought a sharp objection from Juan Martinez who said if her investigator needed evidence he needed to contact him directly so he could in turn let Detective Flores know. The judge agreed this would have to be how it was handled and that Jodi had limits to what she could do from behind bars. So with that it was a wrap, and Jodi stood up and talked to her former attorney’s with a grin on her face that said it all. Jodi was in her element, in charge and in control, her favorite place to be. But with Juan Martinez on the opposite table this showdown won’t be without fireworks and sidebars so the question begs to be asked…..will the jury not like Jodi 9 out of 10 days or will this new strategy of humanizing herself as a self made lawyer grab the attention of at least one? I can assure you it will be a battle and not one the State of Arizona will take lightly as the state treads into new territory on a case that has captivated the world. One thing will never change no matter how much sensationalism this new tactic will bring, the victim Travis Alexander and family are still seeking justice in the final phase of a trial that has taken to long to get started. The crime and damage have been done and final justice for him is looming just around the corner. Next hearing is August 13th, at 8:30am and Judge Stephens reminded everyone this trial will begin on September 8th, 2014, no delays. So until the next hearing, best wishes The Trial Diaries..