The ethics trial scheduled to start next week for Jodi Arias prosecutor Juan Martinez could be postponed for a month or more after the judge in the case tossed out sweeping sexual harassment allegations against Martinez, 12 News has learned.
Martinez is accused of violating the Arizona Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct by lying about his sexual relationship with an Arias trial blogger; lying about his contacts with a dismissed Arias juror; and sexually harassing several female co-workers at the Maricopa County attorney’s office, as well as a Maricopa County court reporter.
The veteran Maricopa County prosecutor, known for his aggressive tactics in high-profile cases, had been scheduled to go before a disciplinary panel starting Tuesday for a possible four-day hearing, with about a dozen witnesses expected to testify.
But late Friday, Professional Disciplinary Judge William O’Neil agreed to Martinez’s lawyer’s request to dismiss the allegations involving conduct at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, according to people familiar with the case.
Women hid in bathroom
According to the ethics complaint, several female employees in the county attorney’s office compiled a "JM sh*t list" of Martinez’s sexually predatory conduct. Female employees said they would avoid Martinez in the office by hiding in a bathroom or ducking into a cubicle.
The allegation of sexually harassing the court reporter still stands.
The judge is now expected to hold a status conference Tuesday to discuss how the case will proceed.
The State Bar of Arizona counsel, acting as prosecutor in the Martinez case, could choose to appeal the dismissal of the allegations out of the county attorney's office.
An Arizona Supreme Court spokesman said Saturday he hadn't seen an written order from the judge. O'Neil is appointed by the high court.
On Thursday, the day before he dismissed one set of allegations, Judge O'Neil heard arguments from a lawyer for several media organizations, including 12 News, to allow a video camera at the disciplinary hearing.
The Bar counsel has asked the judge to bar all media coverage.
Media seeking access
O'Neil has already signed off on sealing the testimony and identities of most witnesses, including the Maricopa County employees. His ruling on the media organizations' request is pending.
Key evidence related to the sexual misconduct allegations has also been sealed from public view.
The trial blogger, Jen Wood, has provided screen shots of text messages between her and Martinez that are "reciprocally sexual and personal in nature,” according to an email from her attorney filed with the court.
The disciplinary hearing follows up on an ethics complaint filed in March by the State Bar of Arizona, which regulates the state's legal profession.
If any part of the complaint is upheld, Martinez could face a range of disciplinary actions, including losing his law license.
The ethics complaint accuses Martinez of lying repeatedly to investigators. It covers Martinez's behavior during the Arias murder trial, a sensational case that transformed the deputy Maricopa County prosecutor into an international celebrity.
Arias was charged with the gruesome murder of her ex-boyfriend and is currently serving a life sentence. She was spared the death penalty by one holdout juror.
Martinez is suspected of leaking the juror's identity to Jen Wood.
Here are the key allegations against Martinez:
Sexual relationship with blogger
The complaint says Martinez denied engaging in a sexual relationship with trial blogger Jen Wood, who was part of a tandem known as the "Trial Divas."
"The testimony was false, and respondent knew it was false," the complaint says, one of several times Martinez is called out for lying.
"The relationship continued through the second penalty phase of the Arias case and for several years thereafter," the complaint says.
Disclosing Juror 17's identity
Juror 17 was the holdout juror who stood in the way of Martinez persuading the Arias jury to put her to death.
After the judge rejected Martinez's motion to dismiss Juror 17, Martinez "provided Juror 17's name to Ms. Wood who then looked up Juror 17's Facebook page. Respondent told Ms. Wood that if anyone found out that he had provided her with this information, he would be disbarred," according to the complaint.
Arizona law prohibits the public release of jurors' names.
But Martinez denied to investigators that he had given Wood any information about Juror 17.
"The testimony was false, and respondent knew it was false," the complaint says.
Juror 17 became the target of hate mail and death threats after her identity was made public on social media.
The ethics complaint says investigators were not able to prove Wood was the person who leaked it. Investigators did say she shared the information with one other person covering the trial.
Talking to dismissed Juror 3
When Juror 3 was dismissed, the ethics complaint says, the Arias trial judge asked her not to disclose anything about the proceedings to anyone. Yet she contacted Martinez, after getting his cellphone number from Wood.
She was interested in a sexual relationship - "sexting unsolicited nude photographs of herself" - and offered her thoughts on jurors' appearances, a "read" on how jurors might be leaning and invitations to lunch or dinner.
Martinez said, "I could (get into trouble), just by the way it looks."
But he went ahead and asked Juror 3 questions to determine how jurors "might view evidence or aspects of the case."
The complaint says Martinez's testimony about their communication "was false, and he knew it was false."
Sexual harassment of co-workers
This part of the complaint is based on an internal investigation by MCAO that included interviews with 30 employees.
They alleged Martinez made "inappropriate comments of a sexual nature" - he told one clerk he could "guess the color of (her) underwear" and another "he wanted to climb her like a statue."
Female employees also said Martinez engaged in unwanted touching and made unwelcome invitations to lunch or a date.
The investigation found law clerks would hide from Martinez in bathrooms or duck into cubicles.
Martinez's boss, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, issued only a reprimand for Martinez's behavior.
Montgomery is now one of seven candidates being considered for appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court by Gov. Doug Ducey. The governor could announce his choice at any time.
Martinez’s defense attorney for his ethics cases is paid for by Maricopa County taxpayers.
The State Bar dismissed the first complaint, but was ordered last March to reinstate it after Clark provided more information.
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