On Oct. 30, the public and press watching Jodi Arias penalty retrial were ordered to vacate the characteristically full courtroom while an unidentified witness testified.

Such were the conditions outlined by this specific witness, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens explained at the time. No public, no press, or no testimony.

But after a special-action appeal filed by The Arizona Republic, 12 News and other media outlets, the Arizona Court of Appeals tossed Stephens’ order to close the courtroom, according to documents filed on Wednesday. The order should lead to the release of transcripts identifying the secret witness and revealing the witness’ testimony.

The argument pit the public’s constitutional right to view criminal trial proceedings against what defense attorneys said was a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The two-page order was brief, but its implications are substantial. By all appearances, said media attorney David Bodney, the secret witness was Jodi Arias herself.

The appeals court did not include an opinion on Wednesday, but the document stated that the court would do so in “due course.” Bodney said he will request that the transcripts be released without further delay.

Related Practice

Media Law