Over Media Objections, Judge Holds Private Hearings on Jodi Arias Retrial


For months, Arizona murder convict Jodi Arias was a television staple, every minute of her trial broadcast live while commentators railed nightly about the case. Arias spent weeks on the witness stand and did a series of media interviews. The Associated Press reports that Arias has vanished from view since her trial ended in May “and the judge has done a complete about-face,” shutting the media and public out of most hearings. “The trial court has gone from transparency to blackout and bewilderment,” said attorney David Bodney, who represents media outlets, including the Arizona Republic. “There have been repeated flagrant violations of the public’s constitutional right to attend proceedings.”

A jury couldn’t reach a verdict on Arias’ sentence. Prosecutors are pursuing a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to get the death penalty. Arias, 33, admitted she killed her boyfriend in 2008 but claimed it was self-defense. Judge Sherry Stephens has held hearings behind closed doors as the next steps of the case unfold almost entirely under a shroud of secrecy. She has heard arguments over sequestering the new jury, moving the case out of Phoenix, Arias’ desire to fire her lead attorney and allowing live television coverage of the retrial, among other issues. The case languishes without public scrutiny even as Arias’ legal tab is being picked up by taxpayers at a cost exceeding $1.7 million.

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