Sherry K. Stephens
|Sherry K. Stephens|
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|Current Court Information:|
|Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona|
|Past position:||Family court, Maricopa County Superior Court, Mesa|
|Past position:||Criminal court, Maricopa County Superior Court, Mesa|
|Past term 2:||2004-2007|
|Undergraduate:||Arizona State University, 1977|
|Law School:||Arizona State University, 1980|
|Candidate for:||Maricopa County Superior Court|
|Election information 2012:|
|Election date:||November 6, 2012|
|Retention vote %:||73.22%|
- 2010-2016: Criminal court judge, Maricopa County Superior Court (Phoenix)
- 2007-2010: Family court judge, Maricopa County Superior Court (Mesa)
- 2004-2007: Criminal court judge, Maricopa County Superior Court (Mesa)
- 2001-2004: Juvenile court judge, Maricopa County Superior Court (Mesa)
- 1980-2001: Assistant attorney general, Arizona Attorney General's Office - Organized crime and fraud section
Awards and associations
- Past chair, Public lawyers section, Arizona State Bar
- Past volunteer, Volunteer Lawyers Program, Community Legal Services
- See also: Arizona judicial elections, 2012
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.
On May 8, 2013, the jury in the case found Arias guilty of first-degree murder. A mistrial was declared on May 22, and the jury was dismissed after they failed to reach an agreement on Arias' sentence.
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.
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.
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.Parties in the Arias case returned to court for a closed hearing on May 16, 2014, before Stephens. A retrial was scheduled for September 8, but the date has been pushed back, and jury selection is now set to begin on September 29, 2014. Arias has objected to new motions that would permit limited television coverage of the trial.
- Judge Stephens biography
- Maricopa County Court Bio
- Maricopa County 2012 Unofficial Election Results
- Arizona Courts, Judicial Performance Evaluations: Retention List 2012
- CBS News - Crimesider, "Jodi Arias Trial: Woman charged in ex-boyfriend's murder answers juror questions," March 6, 2013
- Business Insider, "Meet The 32-Year-Old At The Center Of The Incredibly Salacious Mormon Murder Trial," March 9, 2013
- Huffington Post, "Jodi Arias, Accused Of Stabbing Ex-Boyfriend 27 Times, Will Face Death Penalty," February 10, 2012
- CNN.com, "Jury finds Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder," May 9, 2013
- Washington Post, "Jury deadlocks on life term or death for Jodi Arias; judge declares mistrial in penalty phase," May 23, 2013
- United Press International, "Jodi Arias retrial to be blocked from TV," December 2, 2013
- Huffington Post, "Jodi Arias Sentencing Trial Set To Begin March 17," January 13, 2014
- Fox News, "Jodi Arias appears in closed court hearing ahead of murder case's September sentencing retrial," May 16, 2014
- AZ Central, "Jodi Arias objects to limited TV coverage of her retrial," September 2, 2014