Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial: Deliberations

Update 4:30 PDT: No verdict today.

The jury will continue with its deliberations today starting at 10 a.m. PDT. It is said one of the jurors has some kind of appointment this morning.

There is a lot of speculation as to the verdict. Most likely it will be hung or be manslaughter, which is what the defense managed to get included as an "out" for the jury to prevent a mistrial, but the ONLY acceptable outcome is an acquittal.

I am not sure any jury, especially one not sequestered, would have the moral courage to do the right thing here. This goes far beyond what happened in that bathroom/bedroom on the afternoon of June 4, 2008. It has to do with the machiavellian conduct of Maricopa County officials.

I saw this post over on another site, and it sums up my beliefs perfectly:

I got to thinking about this case on a level removed from the nitty gritty of the evidence, but on a more philosophical/civic level.

The State, and by extension the prosecutor is supposed to be the people’s representative to see that justice is done in situations where a there is an allegation of unlawful conduct by a member of the people. Their job is not to win convictions or any other court victories. Similarly it is the police’s responsibility to enforce the law, and where necessary, to provide assistance to the prosecutor in their task of achieving justice.

A prosecutor should take the evidence, as it exists, present it in an honest manner, and charge a person based on the evidence and the facts as presentable in a court of law. A prosecutor should not tailor the testimony of the state’s witnesses in order to achieve what he perceives as being a victory. In fact a prosecutor should not stand for any misrepresentation by either his, or for that matter, the defenses witnesses. The prosecutor should also not shop around for witnesses who will be willing to testify in a manner that suits the prosecutor’s version of the case. In fact, if after a reasonable amount of due diligence the prosecutor finds that the preponderance of expert opinion does not support his theory of the case, then the prosecutor should not further his theory.

Now, given any responsibility, there needs to be a mechanism that assures that the person tasked with that responsibility does in fact fulfill it, in the manner intended. The courts are not always the answer, because not all misconduct is criminal, and in fact certain jobs and tasks enjoy a degree of immunity. There needs to be a method to control a prosecutor who distorts, or causes, or accepts the distortion of witness testimony. Of course at the first step we have his immediate supervisor, who is supposed to protect against this happening, but there is an obvious conflict of interest there. You have the courts, who are supposed to guard against this, but the courts themselves are bound by constraints of what they can or cannot do.

The greatest check on this sort of prosecutorial misconduct is the jury, which when faced with such a situation can and should reject the prosecutions case.

In this particular case, the State v. Jodi Arias we have substantial evidence of a prosecutor flying outside the bounds of justice. Putting aside, for the moment, his behavior in court, we have at the very least the following acts that show him clearly perverting justice:

1. The whole Flores/Horn issue with respect to the sequence of the gun shot. Someone is lying. We know it, they know it, JM knows it, the judge knows it and the jury knows it. JM should have never elicited that testimony. But he did it 4 times.

2. Horn’s testimony about the typographical error vis a vis the dura mater was a lie. JM may have not prompted him to say it. Once Horn said it, he lied under oath. Again, everyone knows it. However, it is incumbent on the prosecutor as the representative of the people in the cause of justice to call him out on it. Other DA’s have done so with their own witnesses. Gil Garcetti charged, and convicted, Mark Fuhrman of perjury before the OJ trial was over. And he had a sequestered jury, so he wasn’t even posing for the jury.

3. The only possible reason that JM had for using DeMarte was that he needed a particular opinion from a psychologist. Given the nature of the tests conducted, the chances were that he was going to get the same opinion as Samuels from any psychologist. The tests conducted by DeMarte were probably done as a part of her job at Bayless, where she was probably just the person administering the test. He probably couldn’t get the opinion he wanted from any of the other staff, and so went with her. And she probably did it to get into the lucrative field (by comparison to her other work) of being an expert witness. Again, we know this, the jury knows this and in my opinion, JM is liable for gross misconduct in eliciting testimony, which though just an opinion, is grossly outside the bounds of “expert” testimony.

JM’s conduct is a blatant miscarriage of his job as the “justice” advocate for the state. Given that situation, the jury should just reject his pleadings in their entirety. It is the only recourse the public has in a situation where a prosecutor starts playing fast and loose with his responsibility.

This is really what this verdict should be about. The entire prosecution case needs to be thrown out because it is unsalvageable. It's tainted. I doubt a conviction would happen even if the case were retried because the tampering itself could come in as evidence. Some would call such an action "jury nullification," but it really isn't because the prosecution didn't have a whole lot of evidence to show anything other than this is a self-defense case (even with the overkill of the slit throat--Travis Alexander was probably dead when that happened). Maricopa County needs to be sent a message that you cannot overcharge a case and then, when you realized you DID overcharge it, decide to manipulate evidence and witnesses in order to railroad a young woman to death row.

I don't think this jury has the moral courage to do such a thing given the insane circus atmosphere outside the courtroom, but you never know.

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