For the sixth time since he was made famous by the salacious Jodi Arias trials of 2013 and 2015, prosecutor Juan Martinez has been cleared of attorney ethics violations.
The latest complaint alleged sexual relations and information-sharing with two female media members covering the case.
And this time, the allegations came from Arias, who had hired a high-profile legal ethics attorney to bring charges against the man who put her in prison for the rest of her life.
In a brief letter to Arias’ attorney Karen Clark, Senior Bar Counsel Craig Henley stated that, after a “thorough investigation,” the State Bar of Arizona “did not find clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Martinez committed a violation of the ethical rules governing lawyers.” The State Bar licenses and regulates attorneys in Arizona.
A longer letter from Henley to Martinez’s attorney, J. Scott Rhodes, noted that having sexual relationships with media members was not in itself a violation of ethical rules, but the allegation that he had shared information with them gave Henley pause.
“Please be aware that a prosecutor engaging in personal relationships with media members during a highly publicized death penalty case is ill-advised and will predictably result in allegations of ethical misconduct,” Henley wrote.
According to Henley’s letter, both women denied having sex with Martinez, and Martinez neither confirmed nor denied whether sex took place. Martinez did admit allowing both women access to his office within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, where he works.
Clark and Arias had also alleged that Martinez was contacted by a juror who was kicked off the trial’s jury panel, and that he pressed her for information about the jurors still hearing the case.
“If true, such conversations would violate your ethical obligations and jeopardize the sanctity of the jury system,” Henley wrote. “While you admit communicating with the discharged juror in this case, the State Bar cannot prove an ethical violation by clear and convincing evidence, as we were unable to independently verify the content of the text messages or phone conversation between you and the discharged juror.”
A “more prudent course of actions” in the future would be to notify the judge and opposing counsel, Henley wrote.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office had no comment. Martinez had not responded for comment as of this writing.
Clark said she expected Arias would want to file an objection.
“The evidence of his ethical misconduct provided to the State Bar in support of the bar charge was very strong and extremely serious,” Clark said. “The State Bar’s recommendation is disappointing, but the matter will ultimately be decided by the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee.”
In September, Martinez beat back another Bar complaint involving his behavior in five capital cases he tried over a decade. After a day-long hearing, the state’s presiding disciplinary judge dismissed the case.
The State Bar appealed that decision to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled whether to take on the case.
The Bar had already dismissed four other complaints, including allegations concerning a book he wrote about the Arias trial, and statements and actions he made during the trial concerning witnesses and attorneys.
Arias, 37, was convicted in 2013 of the murder of her sometimes lover, Travis Alexander, 30, who was found shot and stabbed to death in his Mesa home in June 2008. The trial became a social-media spectacle, partly for the testimony laced with graphic images of sex and violence, and partly for Martinez’s aggressive handling of witnesses.
But the first jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Arias to death, forcing a second trial in 2015. The second jury also failed to reach a unanimous verdict on life or death, and so Arias was automatically sentenced to natural life in prison.
Her appeal is pending.17-0624 Letter to C
By Michael Keifer
Source: AZ Republic