Trials & Litigation

Judge says defense can't videotape jury selection in Colo. movie theater shooting case


Lawyers for James Holmes cannot videotape jury selection for his trial over the 12 people killed and dozens more wounded in a July 2012 shooting at the premiere of a Batman movie at a Colorado theater, a judge has ruled.

Saying that the digital video camera could be intimidating to jurors, Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour Jr. also pointed out in his order (PDF) that audio recordings and written transcripts are the standard method of creating a record for appellate review. Samour said no authority in Colorado or anywhere else supports an argument that a trial court must permit videotaping of jury selection, reports Courthouse News.

Samour rebuffed as well a defense argument that it should be permitted to videotape court proceedings because a security camera is already in use in the courtroom:

“Finally, the court would be remiss if it did not address the defendant’s allegation that the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office ‘found a way to surreptitiously record the proceedings in this case in a manner such that even the defense was unaware that they were being recorded,’ ” the judge wrote. “The defendant goes too far. The sheriff did nothing surreptitious; the surveillance camera in division 201 is conspicuous. Further, the defendant’s assumption that the proceedings in this case have been recorded is incorrect. The surveillance camera in division 201 lacks the capability to record.”

Trial in the case is scheduled for October, but that could be postponed due to a defense challenge of an order by the judge requiring a second sanity evaluation, reports NBC News. The Denver Post also has a story.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The defense is also seeking a change of venue, arguing that Holmes cannot get a fair trial in the Denver suburbs. The shooting occurred in Aurora, not far from Denver.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “First Suits Filed re Shooting Spree During Batman Movie Blame Colo. Theater for Lax Security”

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