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KPNX-TV Channel 12 v. Stephens

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

December 16, 2014

KPNX-TV CHANNEL 12, a division of Multimedia Holdings Corporation; PHOENIX NEWSPAPERS, INC.; MEREDITH CORPORATION d/b/a/ KPHO-TV; KTVK-3TV, Petitioners,
v.
THE HONORABLE SHERRY STEPHENS, Judge of the SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA, in and for the County of MARICOPA, Respondent Judge, STATE OF ARIZONA; JODI ANN ARIAS, Real Parties in Interest

Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No. CR2008-031021-001. The Honorable Sherry K. Stephens, Judge.

For Petitioners: Ballard Spahr LLP, Phoenix, By David J. Bodney, Christopher Moeser, Brunn W. Roysden III.

For Real Party in Interest State of Arizona: Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix, By M. Colleen Connor, Anne C. Longo, Juan M. Martinez.

For Real Party in Interest Jodi Ann Arias: Law Office of L. Kirk Nurmi, Phoenix, By L. Kirk Nurmi, Willmott & Associates PLC, Phoenix, By Jennifer L S Willmott.

Judge Maurice Portley delivered the Opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Patricia A. Orozco and Judge Randall M. Howe joined.

OPINION

Page 1076

[236 Ariz. 368] PORTLEY, Judge:

[¶1] Petitioners, who are members of the broadcast and print media, challenge a ruling closing the penalty phase of a capital murder trial to the press, as well as to the public.

Page 1077

[236 Ariz. 369] As a result, we must decide whether a " clear and present danger" exists under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure (" Rule" ) 9.3 that justifies excluding the press and public during portions of the penalty phase of the trial. Because we find no clear and present danger, we accept special action jurisdiction and grant relief by vacating the ruling of October 30, 2014, closing the penalty phase of the trial to the press and public.

SPECIAL ACTION JURISDICTION

[¶2] We have discretion to accept special action jurisdiction when a party does not have a plain, adequate, or speedy remedy by appeal. See Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act. 1(a); Patterson v. Mahoney, 219 Ariz. 453, 455, ¶ ¶ 2, 5, 199 P.3d 708, 710 (App. 2008) (accepting special action jurisdiction to interpret criminal procedure rules). Because Petitioners do not have any other mechanism to challenge the ruling, we exercise our discretion and accept jurisdiction. See Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Superior Court, 140 Ariz. 30, 32-33, 680 P.2d 166, 168-69 (App. 1983).

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶3] Jodi Arias was convicted of first degree murder, but after the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the penalty, the superior court declared a mistrial of the penalty phase of the trial. A new jury was empaneled to consider evidence in the retrial of the penalty phase. The court was subsequently advised that Arias wanted to testify in mitigation outside the ...


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