By Jim Kouri
A hearing regarding the notebook of the Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes that he mailed to his psychiatrist has been postponed for one week. The subject was supposed to be debated during Thursday’s court hearing in Holmes’ murder case.
But in his ruling on Wednesday, Judge William Sylvester granted a motion to postpone the debate until August 23.
Meanwhile, members of the nation’s journalism community won a slight victory when the Colorado judge ordered several documents regarding the Batman movie killing in Aurora unsealed on Monday, but upheld the sealing of other documents at the request of both the prosecution and the defense.
James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside a theater after allegedly killing 12 people and wounding another 58 at the midnight showing of a Batman movie on July 20. He made his first court appearance three weeks ago.
The journalists’ access to the files is expected to provide the public with a clearer view of one of the worst mass-shootings in U.S. history. A media coalition has been pushing for all records relevant to the case to be released. Steven Zansberg, a lawyer representing the media coalition, applauded part of the decision and but wasn’t pleased about the overall ruling.
The attorneys for both the prosecution and defense had argued for the documents to remain sealed with the prosecutor saying his office wished to assure the integrity of the continuing investigation, and the defense saying they wished to protect Holmes’ right to a fair trial.
Chief Judge William Sylvester, of the 18th Judicial District, ruled that more than 30 court documents about the proceedings of the case, including a motion for access and preservation of the crime scene and evidence, would be unsealed.
“While the court is cognizant of the important role media petitioners play in informing the public’s legitimate interest in knowing the actions taken by government officials responsible for the investigation, prosecution and trial of the defendant, the court also will not jeopardize the integrity of the process and the truth-seeking functions of our justice system by authorizing the premature release of records,” Sylvester wrote in his ruling.
Following the arrest of suspected murderer James Holmes on July 20 (12CR1522 The People of the State of Colorado v. James Holmes), the judge had imposed a ban that severely limited the news media’s access to the documents. The judge’s rationale for the ban was that if the information contained in the documents were to be disclosed, they could jeopardize the ongoing investigation and violate the defendant’s right to a fair and impartial trial.
Although many files were ordered unsealed, Judge Sylvester ruled that confidential Holmes’ information at the University of Colorado, where he was a former neurology Ph.D. candidate, would be off-limits to reporters and the public.
In addition, Judge Sylvester issued an order clarifying his limited gag order which prohibits defense team members, prosecutors and law enforcement officials from disclosing certain information to the media.
The Law Enforcement Examiner reviewed the files unsealed on Monday. Readers may review the files in their totality at: 12CR1522 The People of the State of Colorado v. James Holmes