When a criminal case ends in a conviction, a defendant may choose to appeal his or her case for a variety of different reasons. However, it is important to note that appeals can take time. It may be years for an appellate court to hear and decide a case. There are a wide range of things that can cause an appeal to be delayed. A recent article from the Washington Post discussed a hold up in the case of Jodi Arias – transcripts.
Jodi Arias was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2013. Her sentencing took two years as two different juries deadlocked on whether or not she should be sentenced to death. Ultimately, after the second jury couldn't reach a decision, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She is currently incarcerated at Perryville state prison, which is located near Phoenix, Arizona.
Arias has chosen to appeal her case. One of the first steps in an appeal is to get the transcript of the trial and other relevant proceedings. These transcripts are used by attorneys to “identify and document grounds for appeals” and the Court of Appeals needs a record of the case in order to be able to make a determination of whether or not an error was made by the lower court. The Washington Post reported that “[p]roblems compiling transcripts have delayed Arias' appeal of her first-degree murder conviction for about a year.” The transcripts are extensive; the guilt phase alone of her trial was six months long.
There were 22 court reporters in all, involved in creating the record for the case. The Court of Appeals had to “repeatedly prod [the reporters] to finish transcripts.” The court reporter that is responsible for putting together a majority of the transcripts experienced delays for various reasons including that he had a computer malfunction and was undergoing cancer treatment. He and other reporters also “cited workload issues.” According to the Post, “at one point even ordered that dozens of transcripts be destroyed and redone because of errors or omissions.”
The Court of Appeals finally declared that the record was complete this past April. The record consists of “nearly 25,000 pages of transcripts, over 950 exhibits and 21 written motions for dismissal or mistrial.” At another hearing later this year, “the court finally set deadlines in 2018 for the defense and prosecution to file legal briefs.” It is not clear if a date for oral argument has been set.