State Bar: Top MariCo prosecutor leaked secret information, lied, sexually harassed underlings

By: - March 5, 2019 12:06 pm
Juan Martinez

Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez during the Jodi Arias trial. Photo by Associated Press | Pool photo

The State Bar of Arizona has filed a formal complaint against star Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez, alleging that he leaked confidential information during the murder trial of Jodi Arias, lied to Bar investigators and frequently sexually harassed women employees in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

His harassment of co-workers was so pervasive that “some of the female… employees created a ‘JM shit list,’ an unwritten list of (Martinez’s) unprofessional conduct with female employees,” the complaint alleges.

The complaint, which includes allegations from two separate investigations, comes after Bar investigators concluded there was probable cause that Martinez violated the rules that govern the conduct of attorneys. Martinez has until the end of the month to respond to the complaint, and the likely next step is a hearing before the Arizona Supreme Court’s disciplinary panel.

Punishments from the disciplinary panel can range from formal sanctions to suspending an attorney’s license to practice to outright disbarment.

“If, after a hearing before the Arizona Supreme Court’s disciplinary panel, sanctions are considered appropriate, the court would decide the appropriate course. The bar would not speculate as to if they are appropriate or what they would be,” said State Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it wouldn’t comment on the complaint.

“We are now aware of an official complaint filed by the Arizona State Bar following an investigation we cooperated with and provided the State Bar with requested materials. As with similar matters, we will respect the Bar disciplinary process and not comment further,” said MCAO spokeswoman Amanda Steele.

The complaint covers both Martinez’s actions during the high-profile Arias trial between 2013 and 2015 and his unprofessional conduct toward female co-workers.

Investigators contend that Martinez lied about leaking confidential information about a holdout juror in the Arias sentencing to Jennifer Wood, a blogger who wrote prolifically about the trial and was involved in a sexual relationship with Martinez. Jurors’ names were not available to the public, but Martinez allegedly provided the juror’s name to Wood.

Martinez also told Wood “that if anyone found out that he had provided her with this information, he would be disbarred,” the complaint alleges.

The complaint also says Martinez violated attorney rules by communicating with a juror who was dismissed. The juror obtained Martinez’s cell phone number from Wood and attempted to initiate a sexual relationship, including sending him unsolicited nude photographs of herself and telling him how she thought other jurors were leaning in the case. Martinez never reported the communications to the court or Arias’s attorneys.

When investigators deposed Martinez, he lied when he denied having a sexual relationship with Wood and leaking juror information to her, the complaint alleges. It also asserts that he lied about how often he communicated with the dismissed juror, who initiated those conversations and how long he communicated with her.

The complaint further alleges that Martinez has a long track record of sexually harassing women court employees and MCAO employees.

In one instance, investigators found that he repeatedly made unwelcome comments and stared at one of the court reporters in the Arias trial. Among other things, Martinez is alleged to have commented on the woman’s skirts, shoes and physical appearance, telling her at one point he “would like to see what is inside that skirt.”

The court reporter switched assignments with a colleague to avoid Martinez.

At MCAO, the complaint alleges that Martinez serially harassed low-level employees – mostly law clerks – by making unwelcome sexual comments, engaging in unwanted touching and making unwelcome and persistent requests to go to lunch or on dates.

The complaint details allegations made by seven former law clerks between 2014 and 2017. One clerk said Martinez “made a comment about putting a hit on (her) boyfriend so that he could have (her) all to himself,” and stared at her in a way that made her feel he was undressing her with his eyes. The clerk began hiding in the bathroom at work when she heard Martinez’s voice so she could avoid him.

Another former law clerk told investigators that Martinez told her “he wanted to climb her like a statue,” invited her go to Las Vegas with him and told her “he could guess the color of her underwear,” the complaint alleges.

A different clerk said Martinez touched her “above her waist” without permission and invaded her personal space. She also alleged that Martinez “looked at female employees’ chests and blatantly looked them up and down as they walked away,” causing some women to engage in busy work or hide in cubicles to avoid Martinez.

Yet another law clerk alleged that Martinez “looked her up and down, stared at her chest and looked down her shirt.”

None of the women reported Martinez’s behavior to MCAO supervisors because “most of them believed he was in a position of power at MCAO and were afraid of potential negative consequences.”

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.