Over the past month or so I have been watching the Jodi Arias trial and tweeting often about the Prosecutor and the Defense attorneys. Jodi has been charged with the murder of Travis Alexander and is possibly facing the Death Penalty if convicted. Right now the defense is presenting its direct examination of Jodi Arias. They are discussing all of the different interactions Jodi and Travis had and reviewing the comments made by Travis to Jodi.
Typically when presenting a direct examination the attorney and the client work together to create a theme of the questioning. This theme is intended to provide a clear and concise understanding for the jury to take away from the testimony. Often, key words and phrases are used to highlight this theme. Watching the Jodi Arias trial it is clear that Kirk Nurmi and Jodi have not gotten on the same page.
Repeatedly Nurmi has asked Jodi if certain actions of Travis Alexander’s have put her back into a “fog”. He is expecting her to say yes and expound on how it felt. However, Jodi has downplayed how she felt and not repeated that she is in this “fog.” This simple failure stops a rhythm from being established and forces the jury to work harder to get the information they need to get.
The goal of an attorney in crafting the argument is to make it as clear as day as to what you want the jury to take away from each witness and from each piece of evidence. In this case that hasn’t been the case. Sitting in the courtroom on February 19th I got to watch the jurors’ reactions to the direct examination of Jodi Arias. To be blunt it was painful. Evidence was not properly presented and more time was spent in side bar than in questioning. Each time the jury got more and more disinterested. By the time lunch was getting close it looked like each of the jurors was thinking more about where they were going to lunch than what Jodi was saying.
All in all this case has been a study on courtroom behavior. If I taught any sort of trial practice course at a law school I would use this trial as a teaching tool for sure. Keep checking back as I blog some more when the cross examination of Jodi Arias begins. You can also follow my daily tweets at https://twitter.com/brentjkleinman