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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Burning Time: Jodi Arias Trial Cross-Examination

I've  been following the Jodi Arias capital murder trial with some interest for the past few weeks, particularly the defense strategy of exploring in lurid and uncorroborated detail the sordid sexual history between Arias and the man she killed, her former lover Travis Alexander. I may write about this at some point, but that's not why I'm writing today.

I'm watching a live-feed stream of the cross-examination, and I've come to the conclusion that Jodi Arias may once have been a trial team witness for an ethically challenged law school mock trial team. The prosecutor is impeaching her with prior inconsistent statements right now, but for every statement so far, he's had to refresh her recollection. She took about 5 minutes to read to herself a few pages of a journal entry she wrote and about which she testified on direct examination. Then, she claimed not to remember her direct examination testimony, so the prosecutor provided a transcript, which, as I write this, she has now been reading silently to herself for over 5 minutes. In the middle of all this was a sidebar conference to discuss how much of the transcript she would read silently to herself to refresh her recollection about "pop rocks and tootsie pops."

Reminds me of a few trial competitions I've been to, although of course there are no actual time limits in the Arias trial so she can burn all the time she wants.

If, by any chance, you know someone who likes to coach their trial teams to burn their opponents' time as a strategy, they could do no better than to watch Ms. Arias in maddeningly slow real time, pretending to forget, and reading to herself excruciatingly slowly. As I say, watching her, I would swear she'd been coached by one of the great mock trial masters of the art. If her life is spared in this trial, perhaps she could serve as a competition consultant to teams that use this particular strategy.

We're now at about 15 minutes to get an answer to ONE QUESTION. I greatly admire the patience of the prosecutor at this point. Most mock trial competition attorneys would have melted down completely at this point.

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