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Monday, May 6, 2013

Jodi Arias Jury - How Long Will They Take?

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The most common question I get now is how long will the verdict take in the Jodi Arias case?  The 3 alternates were chosen late last Friday and the final 12 went into deliberate. They returned to the courthouse this morning at 9 Arizona time. 

Crime writer Camille Kimball at Jodi Arias courthouse. Somewhere in that huddle is Jane Velez Mitchell

People hoping for a Murder in the 1st Degree conviction seem to feel the jurors have had the case for 4 months already, they must be eager to take their vote and get on with their lives. 

The Serial Shooter jury in Phoenix sat in trial for 6 months. They even had Dale Hausner's accomplice, Sam Dieteman, testify against him. Yet they took 3 weeks in deliberations. 

They finally returned with 6 death penalties and dozens of other guilty verdicts for Hausner. 

Marjorie Orbin's jury sat in trial for 9 months. Yes, nine.  But they did not return with their verdict in the space of an afternoon. It took about a week for them to convict her of the gruesome murder of her husband. 

Up in Yavapai County, the jury for Law of Attraction guru James Arthur Ray also sat in trial for months, but did not return a first day verdict.

In talking to jurors from trials like these, after it's all over, you hear how solemnly they take their duty of depriving a fellow human being of liberty or life. 

After the many months of trial, months during which the rest of us are free to opine and vent to our heart's content, the jurors have direly pent up emotions. They have not been allowed to review testimony or evidence with each other during the trial, nor with anyone else, not even their spouses. 
Juror #5 on Jodi's jury was let go precisely because the defense successfully argued she had revealed an opinion. 
Jurors haven't had the freedom of Jean Casarez & Jane Velez Mitchell to share their opinions on Jodi Arias

So what tends to happen on the first day in the privacy and freedom of the deliberation room at last is a spewing forth of emotions and opinions. The discussion, such as it is, will be chaotic and emotional. Only later, when the 12 have been able to process their feelings about the gruesome photos they have seen and the hours of testimony they have sat through with poker faces, will they get down to work.

This, I have often seen, is the time when the awesome responsibility of what they are about to do sets in. In the Arizona juries in the above cases, rather than simply taking a vote, they systematically start going through the evidence. They make sure they each understand an item and they will deliberate on its meaning. 

And then something similar occurs with the jury instructions, too. They may read and re-read different portions of the instruction, persuading each other along the way. 

Some juries have only one or two members who feel differently than the rest. Such a jury may spend many days trying to bring those one or two around to the majority position, may spend more days fretting with each other about the consequences of failing to reach a unanimous decision, and even more days hammering out a compromise using lesser charges.

Taking on the burden of having an actual vote in a case like is very different from watching it on TV or even from the gallery inside the courtroom, as I do. They know that some information has been kept from them and they want to make sure they do the right thing. I've had jurors come to my book signings and beg for more information about what happened when they are sent out of the room (which is the more typical procedure than what we've seen in the Jodi Arias trial where the jury stays put and the lawyers approach the bench while white noise is played on loud speakers in the courtroom). 

Jurors also want to review their own feelings and make sure they are not making a decision based on the personalities of the lawyers or even of the defendant or victim. They want to make sure they understand the law. 

Many of them will live with the case--and their own vote--for the rest of their lives. Some will seek therapy. Some will seek out the victims or the defendant and bond,

So, in my experience, it would be surprising if the jury in the Jodi Arias case had come back Monday morning or even Friday afternoon. I would expect them to take at least most or all of one day. Even if they reach a decision quickly, many will want to sleep on it before casting a vote. 

It's impossible to predict what any specific jury will do. Add to all of the above the mix of 12 strangers with individual personalities who may or may not be able to work together once they get down to business.

In the Fife Symington jury, a former Arizona governor convicted of fraud, it turned out one member was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. This went undetected during the selection process, but manifest in deliberations with her sometimes bizarre and obstinate behavior. 

When will Jodi's jury come back? The old saw that the longer deliberations take, the more it favors the defense has never been true in my experience. One of the quickest juries I ever saw was for Elizabeth Johnson in the Baby Gabriel case. That one was a victory for the defendant. But I only attend one trial at a time from a field of a nearly infinite number of trials so take it for what it's worth. But don't despair of the verdict you may be hoping for because 12 pent up people didn't take an immediate vote. 


  1. Jessica TafollaMay 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Good read Camille. I think one can never, ever figure out a jury. I think this jury has really taken their job seriously. They asked good questions and seemed attentive for the most part. I hope they get this right. I hope for Travis Alexander and his family justice is delivered. I know how antsy I am waiting to hear, I cannot even begin to imagine how they feel. They are such a strong family. I have the utmost respect for them.

  2. Thank you, Jessica. It really is impossible to predict what any given jury will do, we have so many examples of that. But the last few I've been on have been careful thinkers and deliberators...

  3. A very good read. I am willing to wait, after seeing many trials, one can never predict. I won't. Just asking an office full of people what they want for lunch is hard. As always we all wish the Jurors could see through our eyes. Thanks for this. Appreciate.NRL

  4. Thank you for a much-needed shot of perspective! My heart wants an early guilty M1 verdict, but my head knows how serious these charges are, and the care that must be taken.

  5. I agree 100% with Jessica. Justice is coming for Travis.

  6. I am happy you wrote because some people fail to realize that there was a 4 month trial going on and that it was 4 months of evidence the jury has to go through and review. Thanks for shading a light on a issue many people don't get to experience; they, just like the rest of us, want justice.

  7. Have you heard about Ryan Ferguson in Columbia missouri? That should never happen. Makes me cry just thinking about him.

    1. I just googled him and read about his case. How very sad:( I signed his Change.org petition.

  8. You are a writer? How about getting a proofreader? "final 12 went into deliberate" - should be in to deliberate...

    Why is everyone trying to get their extra 5 minutes of fame from this trial - even Donald Trump.

    Who knows how long the jury will deliberate so why speculate?

    1. Y R U reeding dis blog?

      Can't a writer have a free flow of ideas ?

      By the way , Camille , I appreciate your thoughts on this subject.
      It's very interesting as I have found myself on pins and needles!

    2. Camille...You put the human timetable of jury deliberations in a much better light! It seems everywhere you look there's someone telling us what the jury is doing...and the negatives of why they are still out...You made the waiting easier.

    3. Oh brother. There's always gotta be a spelling/grammar Nazi in the bunch. Can't perceive the point of an article to save their lives but manage to zero in on a typo like a heat seeking missile. I think these types are generally referred to as "idiot savants."

      Great article, Camille.

    4. Hello Anonymous grammar Nazi. Camille Kimball writes beautifully and I am a big snob about writing. Wondering why you are afraid to use your name when posting a criticism about a very petty typo? Just curious. You must be a Very Important Person.

  9. Loved the article! I didn't think of a lot of what you stated. And anonymous above, don't be a grouch. Life is too short!! :-)

  10. Thanks for the defense, Jill. Some people's kids, eh? I'm sure Anon there has never, ever not even once written something that contained a typo or two. Never. Thanks to all the commenters. You make me feel like my time was well spent. Happy to do it.

  11. Hi Camille, Thanks for your article. It is indeed fantastic. You made a calmness come over me. Perhaps I should just get on with life and wait for the verdict without getting tied in a knot.

    I am so impressed and decided to post this on the "State" page.


  12. Thanks Camille, your insight had a calming affect on me. On Monday when a verdict didn't come in b/c it's so obvious to me she planned this kill. But I thought about how the jurors are really just being able to talk about all they saw and heard over the last 4 months that day. You're right about processing all the information they took in. Talking to each. Maybe even crying while studying the pictures and evidence. And you're right about how when it finally does hit them the weight of their actions and decisions. I think they're going through alot of emotions and discussions. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Thanks again for your perspective.

  13. Thank you, Camille, for being the calm in this storm of frenetic reporting that has kept me (us all?) on pins & needles, reminding us every 3-4 minutes how much time, up to the second, the jury has been deliberating. I have found myself caught up in this timultuous frenzy of speculative drama, taping and watching HLN from noon to midnight for what feels like years. Not only have I rewatched the prosecution's closing arguments on YouTube as I've missed my daily dose of Martinez, I've cxl'd doctor appointments so as not to have to leave the house "just in case." Thank you so much for the dose of reality; far better than rehab.

  14. I served on a murder trial about 15 yrs ago here in Kentucky. Was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. DP was not a option for us. We did find the guy guilty but was unable to agree on the amount of time. The judge decided his fate and gave this 26 yr old young man, that killed is best friend, 50 yrs w/o parole.

  15. Thank you, Camille. I completely agree. This jury does not have an easy task & I'm sure they are talking it through. It May be clear as rain to most of us but as you said, these 12 strangers are just now getting the ability to discuss (& vent) all the things we've been discussing & venting about for 5 months. I hope they take their time to come to that unanimous guilty of murder 1st degree verdict.

  16. Elna, thanks for your kind words. Happy you wanted to share it. I do hope you mean you put up a link? Thanks!

  17. You're right on, Camille. I was on a jury in Phoenix last year. It was a minor case, and the evidence was extremely in favor of the prosecution, but we still spent about an hour deliberating for many of the reasons you described. We hadn't been able to talk about our case all week so we had some verbal purging to do. We also wanted to make sure we were following the instructions exactly as directed by the judge and so we overturned every stone before deciding on our verdicts. The experience of being on a jury in and of itself is a pretty unique one and the excitement of being part of it lends itself to a lot of chatter, too.

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