An Arizona Supreme Court committee that evaluates bar complaints against attorneys has dismissed a charge filed against Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Juan Martinez for writing a book about his most famous case, the Jodi Arias murder trial.
The book, titled “Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars,” was published last year. Martinez, who had become an international celebrity for his flamboyant court style during the trial, promoted it on a national book tour.
But Arias, who was convicted in 2013 for the brutal 2008 murder of her sometime lover, Travis Alexander, and was sentenced to natural life in prison in 2015, has still not completed her appeals of the conviction and sentence.
The bar charge lodged against him accused him of violating ethical rules regarding “the existence and content of certain exhibits previously sealed by court order.”
The charge was investigated by the State Bar of Arizona, which sent it to the Supreme Court of Arizona Probable Cause Committee, whose duty is to evaluate whether it should be considered for disciplinary action.
That committee dismissed the charge April 3, saying, “This matter is being dismissed as respondent obtained permission from his employer to disseminate information relative to his representation in the state v. Arias case. Similarly, while his book made general reference to the existence of sealed testimony and exhibits, the references did not contain specific content and was, in some circumstances, publicly available despite the court order(s) sealing the testimony and exhibits.”
The dismissal went on, however, to say that “his decision and timing to publish is extremely concerning” because of the extrajudicial comments he made, and that he would have been better to wait until the case was completely over.
“Finally,” the order said, “the perception created when a prosecutor attempts to immediately profit from his participation in a high profile case is also very concerning. The public expects much more from prosecutors and the book release shortly after the trial significantly risks undermining those expectations.”
Arias’ defense attorney, Kirk Nurmi, also published a book about the case, which revealed details that were unmistakably in violation of attorney ethics. Nurmi agreed to disbarment in November rather than face a disciplinary hearing.
Other ethics charges are pending against Martinez.
In September, the attorney-discipline probable-cause committee issued an admonition and recommended that Martinez be placed on probation for one year, alleging misconduct and unprofessional behavior over the course of at least 11 murder cases, including the Arias case.
Martinez appealed the admonition and asked for a formal hearing before the Supreme Court presiding disciplinary judge.
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