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Sherry K. Stephens

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Sherry K. Stephens
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Current Court Information:
Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona
Title:   Judge
Position:   Criminal court
Active:   2010-2016
Past position:   Family court, Maricopa County Superior Court, Mesa
Past term:   2007-2010
Past position:   Criminal court, Maricopa County Superior Court, Mesa
Past term 2:   2004-2007
Personal History
Undergraduate:   Arizona State University, 1977
Law School:   Arizona State University, 1980
Candidate 2012:
Candidate for:  Maricopa County Superior Court
State:  Arizona
Election information 2012:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  November 6, 2012
Retention vote:  419,994
Retention vote %:  73.22% ApprovedA

Sherry K. Stephens is a criminal court judge for the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona. Her current term expires in 2016.[1]


Stephens received her undergraduate degree in criminal justice, in 1977, and her J.D., in 1980, from Arizona State University.[2]


Awards and associations


  • Past chair, Public lawyers section, Arizona State Bar
  • Past volunteer, Volunteer Lawyers Program, Community Legal Services[2]



Stephens was retained with 73.22% of the vote in the general election on November 6th.[3][4]

See also: Arizona judicial elections, 2012

Notable cases

Judge Stephens presides over murder trial of Jodi Arias

Judge Sherry K. Stephens is presiding over the highly-publicized trial of Jodi Arias, who was found guilty of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, a Mormon motivational speaker, in 2008. Alexander was shot in the head and stabbed 27 times. His throat was also slit.

Arias admitted to the murder prior to the trial, but claimed she acted in self-defense. Prosecutors argued her actions were premeditated and done out of jealous anger. She faces the death penalty, after a motion by the defense to remove such a penalty was denied by Judge Stephens.

Arizona is one of only a few states that allows jurors to ask witnesses questions. Arias was asked many questions during the trial. Although a few raunchy details about her relationship with Alexander were revealed, no strong evidence emerged to support her claim of self-defense.[5][6][7]

On May 8, 2013, the jury in the case found Arias guilty of first-degree murder.[8] A mistrial was declared on May 22, and the jury was dismissed after they failed to reach an agreement on Arias' sentence.[9]

On December 2, 2013, a date for a retrial of the sentencing phase was not set. However, Stephens granted a request to ban live television coverage of the trial. She has also banned electronic devices, barring reporters from tweeting and providing live updates during the trial. Stephens has denied other requests, such as moving the trial out of Maricopa County and a request to sequester the jury during the trial.[10]

Arias was convicted of murder in May 2013, but the jury was unable to agree on her sentence. Following a closed hearing on January 13, 2014, Judge Stephens set a new trial for the penalty phase. Attorneys in the case will be allowed to call witnesses and present evidence during the proceeding.[11]

Although jurors were unable to reach an agreement on the penalty to be imposed for Arias, her murder conviction stands. If a second jury cannot come to a unanimous verdict on whether to impose the death penalty, Arias will automatically be eligible to receive either a life sentence or a life sentence with the possibility of parole, in accordance with state law.[12]

Parties in the Arias case returned to court for a closed hearing on May 16, 2014, before Stephens. A retrial was orginally scheduled for September 8, but after being pushed back, jury selection began on September 29, 2014. The trial is expected to continue until mid-December.[13]

See also

External links


ArizonaArizona Supreme CourtArizona Court of AppealsArizona Superior CourtArizona Justice CourtsArizona Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of ArizonaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitArizona countiesArizona judicial newsArizona judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArizonaArizonaTemplatewithoutBankruptcy.jpg