Juan Martinez, ex-prosecutor known for role in Jodi Arias trial, has been disbarred
PHOENIX - Officials with the State Bar of Arizona say Juan Martinez, a former Maricopa County prosecutor who became known for his role in the Jodi Arias trial, has consented to disbarment.
According to court documents sent by officials with the State Bar of Arizona to FOX 10, Martinez requested consent to disbarment on July 17.
"I acknowledge that charges have been made against me. I have read the charges. I have denied the charges and continue to do so," read a portion of a statement included in court documents. "Nevertheless, I no longer desire to defend the charges but wish to consent to disbarment. My consent is not an admission."
Officials with the State Bar say a presiding disciplinary judge has accepted Martinez's consent, and has issued an order to disbar him, effective immediately.
"This judgment of disbarment effectively ends the pending discipline case against him," read a portion of a statement by State Bar officials.
The State Bar of Arizona, which regulates lawyers and was seeking discipline against Martinez, said the outcome was just.
Martinez didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the disbarment. His attorney, Donald Wilson Jr., said the disbarment “does not represent an admission of misconduct on his part nor can it be interpreted as an adverse judicial finding as to any of the allegations.”
Martinez plagued by controversy in recent years
In recent years, Martinez has been the target of a number of misconduct accusations.
In July 2019, FOX 10 reported that Martinez is due to face a disciplinary hearing as a result of an ethics complaint that was filed in March of that year. The complaint accused Martinez of leaking information to a blogger he was having an affair with, communicating with a dismissed juror, and sexually harassing several female co-workers.
In the allegations, several co-workers apparently compiled a "JM List" of Martinez's sexually predatory conduct. An investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office found that clerks would hide from Martinez in the bathroom. and that he often made inappropriate comments, including telling one woman he could guess the color of her underwear. and telling another that he wanted to "climb her like a statue".
In September that same year, FOX 10 reported that a law firm that represented Arias at the time filed ethics complaints against Martinez, in addition to then-serving Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
The complaints filed in September 2019 against Martinez stem from a book on the Arias trial that he wrote. The book, titled "Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars", was published in 2016, and Martinez is accused of going on a speaking circuit, making money and gaining fame off his role as the case's prosecutor while the case is still pending.
"In publishing his book, Martinez created a conflict of interest between his own financial interests and his duty as a prosecutor to seek justice," read a portion of the complaint.
According to a February 2016 report by FOX 10, Martinez detailed how he went after Arias for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, and revealed his personal thoughts about the killer in the book.
"Arias always struck me as the 'bad waitress' type. She would probably be looking down at customers, smiling at them with a fake happy look and giving them bad service," Martinez wrote. "In a bad waitress-type, they bring the food cold, but it isn't their fault, but the coffee isn't right, but she didn't make it. That's sort of how I saw her."
In April 2020, Martinez was reprimanded by the Arizona Supreme Court, which concluded that efforts by Martinez to elicit sympathy for victims and fear of defendants and his failure to follow court rulings had jeopardized the integrity of the legal system.
Reassigned and eventually fired from County Attorney's Office over complaints
In September 2019, officials with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office reassigned Martinez from the Capital Litigation Bureau to the Auto Theft Bureau.
"Given the Arizona Bar proceedings involving Mr. Martinez, I felt it was important to assign him a caseload that would be more flexible and allow him to take time when needed to focus on resolving these complaints," wrote Chief Deputy County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, in a statement released to FOX 10 at the time.
In February 2020, it was announced that Martinez was placed on paid administrative leave. In March 2020, it was announced that Martinez was fired from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
In a document obtained by FOX 10 that is related to the dismissal, county officials wrote that Martinez's conduct has created an environment at the county attorney's office that is now "impossible to manage effectively."
"For example, we must work to keep you away from those you victimized," read a letter. "This fact makes it difficult to assign you to bureaus and even your physical location within the building presents challenges. Even if we could isolate you from your victims based on job assignment and work location, it is not possible to prevent contact with your victims."
Martinez had served as a prosecutor for 32 years before he was fired.
Martinez known for role during Arias trial
Martinez rose to prominence following the trial of Jodi Arias over the death of Travis Alexander at his home in Mesa.
According to an Associated Press report in 2018, prosecutors say Arias attacked Alexander after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her.
The case turned into a media circus as salacious and violent details about Arias and Alexander were broadcast live around the world. Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty, but jurors deadlocked on whether Arias should be executed for Alexander's murder.
Arias is serving a life sentence after her first-degree murder conviction in the death.
Arias defense lawyer also disbarred
Martinez is not the only lawyer involved in the Arias trial to be disbarred. In November 2016, the Associated Press reported that Kirk Nurmi, who was Arias' defense lawyer, filed a consent agreement to accept his disbarment.
Nurmi was accused of violating attorney ethics rules by revealing in his book the content of confidential conversations he had with Arias and her family and revealing evidence ruled inadmissible. In a consent decree, Nurmi admitted to breaching attorney-client confidentiality.
Legal experts speak out following Martinez's disbarment
Brian Foster, an attorney who provided legal analysis to FOX 10 during Arias' trial in 2013, spoke about the latest developments on July 17.
"He fought this thing tooth and nail and when he realized he couldn't win, he finally consented and threw himself on his sword and said I will voluntarily surrender my license," said Foster.
Foster said Martinez's reputation as a high-profile prosecutor will never be the same.
"I think that this disbarment for this prosecutorial misconduct abuse is a severe smear over what, on its face, appeared to be a very, very admirable track record of wins," said Foster.
Karen Clark, who is representing Arlas in legal ethics-related matters. She spoke on whether Martinez's disbarment will have any impact on future appeals for Arias.
"I can pretty much guarantee you it would be an issue that would be raised by a competent criminal appellate lawyer," said Clark.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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