The presiding judge for Jodi Arias’s sentencing retrial has declared a media blackout, barring cameras and use of Twitter from the courtroom while the fate of Jodi Arias is decided.
Maricopa County Judge Sherry Stephens granted a request to block live coverage of the proceedings; only still images of the Jodi Arias sentencing trial will be allowed.
“The court expects there will be significantly less media coverage of the case during the retrial of the penalty phase,” Stephens wrote in a ruling published Friday, November 15.
Further, Judge Stephens banned all electronic devices, preventing members of the media from reporting live via Twitter or other media format, fettering access in a way that some claim raises First Amendment issues.
“The trial court has gone from transparency to blackout and bewilderment,” said attorney David Bodney, via the Associated Press. “There have been repeated flagrant violations of the public’s constitutional right to attend proceedings.”
Bodney represents several media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, fighting for access to the proceedings.
Viewers across the world were captivated by the live coverage of the original trial, in which Jodi Arias was convicted of murdering her lover, Travis Alexander, in May. The jury could not reach a verdict as to whether Jodi Arias should receive the death penalty, prompting Judge Stephens to order a new trial with a new jury for sentencing.
The dearth of details on all the latest Jodi Arias proceedings prompted several news outlets to ask “What happened to Jodi Arias?” but the media blackout isn’t the problem. In point of fact, there is simply no date for the sentencing trial yet. But it hasn’t kept Jodi Arias out of the news completely.
Recently, Jodi Arias denied and dismissed out of hand claims from her former cellmate that she would get revenge on lead prosecutor Juan Martinez if she was given the death penalty. The story, an interview by Troy Hayden with former inmate Cassandra Collins, aired on Fox 10 in Phoenix, prompting a Twitter response from Jodi Arias.
— Jodi Arias (@JodiAnnArias) November 30, 2013
Arias contends that Hayden deliberately left out the fact that his interviewee was found incompetent to stand trial and linked to court minutes reflecting such on the record. Hayden responded, asking if Jodi Arias denied making the alleged threats.
“Of course,” Jodi Arias replied.
When reporting on the developing story, the Fox 10 Web site states that “Like many women in jail, Collins has been treated for some emotional and mental issues,” as if that sufficiently covered their bases retroactively.
Judge Stephens has denied the defense’s motion for a change of venue, stating effectively that Jodi Arias would receive a fair trial.
What do you think of the media blackout in the Jodi Arias case? Should Jodi Arias be granted a change of venue for sentencing in light of the interview with Collins?