NewsPhoenix Metro NewsCentral Phoenix News


Arizona State Bar files formal complaint against Arias prosecutor Juan Martinez

Posted at 2:43 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 19:35:51-05

PHOENIX — The State Bar of Arizona has filed a formal complaint alleging misconduct by Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez.

The complaint lists instances of Martinez violating rules of professional conduct while he was prosecuting Jodi Arias in her murder trial and a pattern of sexual harassment of female staff within the county attorney's office. Read the full complaint at the bottom of this article.

During the Arias trial, the complaint says Martinez leaked confidential information to members of the media, including Jennifer Wood, who was a blogger covering the trial. The state bar says Martinez became friends with and started a sexual relationship with Wood during the trial that lasted for several years afterward.

The complaint says Martinez identified one of the jurors who was holding out during deliberations to Wood, and told her that if anyone found out he would face professional punishment.

"Respondent [Martinez] told Ms. Wood that if anyone found out that he had provided her with [the juror's identity], he would be disbarred," the state bar wrote in its complaint.

The bar says Martinez also failed to report communications between himself and another juror who was dismissed during the trial. After their dismissal, the state bar says the juror called Martinez and expressed an interest in having a sexual relationship with him--even going so far as to send unsolicited nude photographs of herself and invitations to lunch or dinner.

"We presented the State Bar with compelling evidence that Martinez engaged in a pattern of serious misconduct throughout the entire series of trials in the Arias case," the firm Adams and Clark, which is now representing Jodi Arias in her appeal of the conviction and life sentence. "We look a State Bar prosecution of Juan Martinez for all of his misconduct in the Jodi Arias case."

The complaint also details a pattern of sexual harassment by Martinez toward junior county attorney staff and other court employees, including interns. This included Marla Knox, a court reporter during the Arias trial.

"During the portions of the Arias case in which Ms. Knox served as a court reporter, [Martinez] frequently, sometimes daily, commented on Ms. Knox's skirts, shoes and physical appearance," the state bar said. "These remarks were unwelcome and made Ms. Knox feel uncomfortable."

The bar says Martinez made comments to Knox such as "I would like to see what is inside that skirt" and "I like the person that's in the shirt."

Martinez's conduct prompted the county attorney's office to investigate in December 2017 and included interviews with him and approximately 30 employees. The investigation found numerous law clerks reported feeling that Martinez was undressing them with his eyes, and told one clerk in 2015 that he "wanted to climb her like a statue."

Several clerks said they and other employees would warn each other if Martinez was coming so they could hide in the bathroom, according to the MCAO investigation.

The eventual report on Martinez's conduct resulted in a written reprimand of his "inappropriate and unprofessional conduct" over several years.

"Your conduct was primarily directed towards interns during their brief internships, all of whom felt they could not complain because they feared it would negatively impact their careers and/or whether MCAO would hire them," according to the report.

Now that the formal complaint has been filed, Martinez has 20 business days to file his response with the Arizona Supreme Court's disciplinary committee. That committee will also schedule a hearing, though as of Tuesday afternoon a date has not been set.

After the hearing, the committee would determine whether sanctions are appropriate, and if so, what the punishment would be.

Messages seeking comment from Martinez, Knox and an attorney for Jodi Arias were not immediately returned.

Read the full state bar complaint