The Jodi Arias Case: Why Attack the Jury?

Princeton area resident Judy Shepps Battle criticizes public outcry over the Jodi Arias jury stalemate regarding a life or death sentence.


I have been resisting commenting on the jury stalemate with regard to awarding the death penalty or life imprisonment to Jodi Arias for her murder conviction. The deadlock was 8 votes for death and 4 for life.

However too many people -- the media and ordinary folk-- are seriously attacking this jury as if they (the faultfinders) could have done a better job in reaching a decision.

I disagree.

The basis of our jury system is that judgment of guilt or innocence is by our peers, our fellow humans who receive zero training in being a jurist. In Arizona, it also means deciding life or death in a first-degree murder trial.

The agitated critics of the final Arias jury decision-not-to-decide need to remember that throughout this trial we the media-watching public were continually being educated in the law and criminal psychology by lawyers, judges and psychologists.

We got to see a different picture of the defendant when she gave a six-hour media-fest of interviews after conviction of aggravated cruelty in the killing of her boyfriend. Her inconsistencies were pointed out. Her mockery and contempt for the jurists and even her own lawyers were noted.  

Her "borderline" characteristics, schizoid affect, ability to manipulate and lie, and her lack of sincere remorse were pointed out again and again to us in viewing the different media interviews.

It is easy to forget that the Arias jury saw none of this.  

In addition, this jury did not have the benefit of being any more educated about how to decide this case than when they were selected. They had no training in how to evaluate evidence except through their own intuition, experience, and understanding of the legal charge before them.

As if this wasn't enough, these jurists served for a full five months and were physically and emotionally exhausted, as any of us would have been.

Perhaps there should be some psychological counseling during the process and/or daily massages to relieve stress. Perhaps there should be a mandatory week off between deciding guilt or innocence and making a final life or death decision.

But this jury -- as every long-term jury in the country -- received no such services during trial time.

Finally, I served on two juries here in NJ and was appalled at the number of people in my jury pool who made up reasons why they couldn't serve. Both of these cases lasted less than a week and each took hours to find 15 individuals willing to participate.  

So I say; kudos to the Arias jury and thumbs down to their critics. 

At least this is how it feels on a very rainy day here in Central NJ as we begin the Memorial Day Weekend. 

What are your thoughts?


Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her weekly column "It Takes a Village" appeared in the South Brunswick Patch for a year. She can be reached by e-mail at writeaction@aol.com. Additional information on this and other topics can be found at her website at http://www.writeaction.com/.  

Copyright 2013 Judy Shepps Battle

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Judy Shepps Battle June 02, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Kimi, my understanding is that the jury cannot come up with a life with no possibility of parole. They can only chose between life and death and then (if it is life) the judge makes that distinction with regard to possibility of parole. This second jury can't do anything different and if it is hung then the judge will decide the type of life sentence. And that decision will be appealed. The big difference for Arias is that immediately after sentencing she is on her way to the women's prison and not lodged in the county jail. And if the second jury is hung regarding the penalty, she has a few more days in the county lockup while the judge decides. Viewed up close, it is one tedious process.
Kimi June 02, 2013 at 11:39 PM
That is correct Judy re: sentencing possibilities. The jury decides life or death, then the judge decides LWOP or Life with possibility of parole. But if the jury is hung again, there is no option of death. The death sentence however, is the only sentence that takes her immediately to the prison. If the Jury decides on life, the judge then sets a sentencing hearing 30-60 days to determine Life with/without parole.
Spooner June 03, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Judy- you stated there was a first attack. Is there forensic evidence other than testimony explained by Medical Examiner, Police, Experts, Martinez or Nurmi that there was a first attack precipitating the stabbings, throat cutting and shooting. Or are you basing the first attack on Arias's testimony by the bathroom shower, when she was taking pictures and claimed to have dropped the camera when he grabbed and then body slammed her? I don't think we will ever know the truth about what set her off. On the other hand, addressing your other comments: the premeditation evidence severely mitigated her insanity defense. And even though expert witnesses explained her behavior using academic etymology, in my opinion this insulted the jury's intelligence, evinced by their questions.
Judy Shepps Battle June 03, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Kimi, thank you for that clarification!
Judy Shepps Battle June 03, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Spooner, my reference to Jodi Arias' "first attack" is to the first way that she attacked/killed Travis (everyone refers to Arias as having murdered him three times). Please forgive my lack of clarity.


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