PHOENIX — Don’t expect a surprise witness, a preening prosecutor or a media circus.
And you won’t see Jodi Arias.
She’ll be in prison Thursday morning while attorneys appeal her conviction and life sentence for brutally murdering ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
The Arizona Appeals Court hearing Thursday couldn’t be more different from the sensational Arias trial that captivated the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s Arias’ argument?
Arias claims she didn't get a fair trial.
Her attorneys point the finger at celebrity prosecutor Juan Martinez and the judge, Sherry Stephens. He committed prosecutorial misconduct, Arias’ attorneys contend, while Stephens failed to control Martinez and what blew up into a media circus surrounding the trial.
Arias' team is asking the appellate court to throw out the verdict.
How does the Arizona Appeals Court work?
“Think of the appeals court as an NFL game,” said attorney Dan Barr of Perkins & Coie. The court acts like “the video review” of calls on the field, he said.
Barr says the three judges on the bench aren't looking for dramatic new evidence.
“There's no new facts given here,” he said.
Instead, the judges review the trial record for how the trial was conducted.
One thing that likely won't come up at the hearing: the recent ethics complaints alleging sexual misconduct by Martinez during and after the trial. The complaints were filed earlier this year, several months after Arias filed her appeal, putting them outside the court record.
There won't be a circus inside the appeals court. In fact, it could be boring.
“It’s not people flaming around the courtroom,” Barr said. “There are no scenes from 'A Few Good Men’ or anything like that.”
Arias' attorneys and the state's lawyers each get 30 minutes to make their case and take questions from the judges.
Here’s a spoiler alert: The judges have already revealed their questions—more than a dozen of them—to both sides. It’s done at the request of the party appealing a decision.
“As a lawyer, when you're arguing before the Court of Appeals, you want to know what they're interested in,” Barr said.
Some of those questions:
- Is Arias entitled to a new trial if Martinez committed intentional misconduct throughout her trial?
- How did publicity outside the courtroom affect the trial?
- Is there a precedent for reversing Arias’ conviction because of misconduct, even if there's no doubt she killed Alexander?
“Saying ‘I don't know’ or not having a very good answer to a question posed to you weeks beforehand is not going to be very persuasive,” Barr said.
What could the court do?
The court could go as far as ordering new trial. Or it could rule the judge or Martinez committed “harmless errors”—mistakes or misconduct that didn’t affect the trial’s outcome.
Barr advises not reading too much into the judge’s planned questions.
“People can read tea leaves all they want, but I just take them as questions,” he said.
The Arizona Appeals Court is inside the Arizona Supreme Court building, 1501 W. Washington St., near the State Capitol.
The Arias hearing starts at 10 a.m. Thursday; the doors open at 9:15 a.m.
Court proceedings are live-streamed here.