James Holmes case: Media's argument to make more information available

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James Holmes.
As we've reported, Judge William Sylvester ordered that the majority of documents in the James Holmes shooting case remain sealed. But those he's letting the public see include the argument by some of the country's major media organizations about why they should be allowed more access, including comparisons to the Gabrielle Giffords attack in Arizona and counter-claims by both the prosecution and the defense. See them all below.

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Steve Zansberg.
The media's "Motion to Unseal Court File (Including Docket)" was presented by a team of attorneys that included Steve Zansberg, who represented news organizations in requests to release information in some of the state's highest-profile cases, including rape allegations against Kobe Bryant (a filing from that matter is included in the document) and the Oklahoma City bombing trial, which took place in Denver. The latest motion argues that there is "no proper basis...for the blanket sealing of the entire case file," including warrants. The document allows that "absent disclosure of the factual bases for the issuance of a warrant, the public cannot properly assess the propriety of the government's conduct." Quoted on this subject is the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, with a portion of his statement printed in bold:

When a shocking crime occurs, a community reaction of outrage and public protest often follows, and thereafter, the open processes of justice serve an important prophylactic purpose, providing an outlet for community concern, hostility, and emotion....

The crucial prophylactic aspects of the administration fo justice cannot function in the dark; no community catharsis can occur if justice is done in a corner or in any covert manner. It is not enough to say that results alone will satiate the natural community desire for "satisfaction." A result considered untoward may undermine public confidence, and where the trial has been concealed from public view an unexpected outcome can cause a reaction that the system at best has failed and at worst has been corrupted. To work effectively, it is important that society's criminal process satisfy the appearance of justice, and the appearance of justice can best be provided by allowing people to observe it.

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Jared Lee Loughner.
Additionally, the motion maintains that "bald assertions of harm to investigations have been rejected where they are made after a defendant has been formally charged and the search or arrest warrant materials have been filed with the court." (The emphasis is in the original.) To back up this point, the motion cites "last year's mass shooting incident in Tucscon, Arizona," during which Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and injured another fourteen others, including Congresswoman Giffords, during a public appearance by the latter. (Loughner recently pleaded guilty in the attack and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.)

"The court initially refused to unseal search warrants and associated affidavits due to an active and ongoing criminal investigation" in the Loughner massacre, the motion states, "but later ordered them released after the grand jury returned an indictment and the government acknowledged that its active investigation was completed (that no additional charges were expected)."

These assertions drew responses from both the 18th Judicial District DA's office and the defense team representing Holmes. These legal combatants have sniped at each other in other court documents, but in this instance, they're very much on the same page. Here's the defense's take on why more documents shouldn't be released:

At this early stage in the process, it is almost impossible for this Court to prospectively engage in the "fact-bound" analysis of determining whether unsealing the entire court file and register of actions is appropriate.... Neither the Court nor the parties can anticipate the nature of the pleadings and the litigation that will ensue in the coming months. The defense has only recently received a voluminous amount of initial discovery, and is still in the midst of processing this information. Unsealing the entire case file at this point is likely to have a chilling effect on the ability of the parties to make candid arguments about significant legal issues in the case going forward.

And this is from the 18th Judicial District DA:

The People recognize this case will likely be unsealed at some point. However, unsealing the case at this stage could impact the ability to fully investigate the matter. To put it simply, this is not a normal criminal investigation and this is not a normal criminal case. The sheer number of victims and witnesses demonstrate that the normal standards by which a court could judge that the people have had sufficient opportunity to conduct their investigation do not apply. The People respectfully request this case, and all documents associated with it not already released, remain sealed until there is a reasonable opportunity for the matter to be fully investigated by law enforcement and for discovery to be provided and reviewed by the defense.

After perusing these arguments, the media replied in another motion with, among other things, an extraordinary list of what the response claims is already known about the Aurora theater shootings.

Page down to see the list of events related to the Aurora theater shooting and the five documents related to media requests.


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19 comments
Daisy Rothschild
Daisy Rothschild

I just really wish you'd stop publishing his face please. anyone else agree?

Craig Montgomery
Craig Montgomery

i think it was a government set up. now they wanna take our 2nd amendment

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"The crucial prophylactic aspects of the administration fo [sic] justice ..."

 

Fo' sho' ...

Julie Barrickman
Julie Barrickman

Let me know when hes been rightfully executed. For now, who the fuck cares?

Denise Caskey
Denise Caskey

What more do we need? I just wanna know the outcome of the trial.

Shannon M Casey
Shannon M Casey

Oh Stan, spare me....society needs less psychobabble, less sympathy, and more results. Use primetime news to post photos and information of missing children/people. Even the homely ones! Ugly people never get their photo opportunity.

Doug Hubka
Doug Hubka

If there is any chance an attorney could say the jury is tainted and gets a mistrial or accquital, then the media should leave this alone. I am sure readers would love to hear the gory details of this murder, but justice demands that the judge be careful. I go with the judge on this.

Pedro Martinez DePacas
Pedro Martinez DePacas

If we learn what James' motives , ideas , and history is then maybe WE can prevent another columbine type incident so if we ignore the roots we will never reveal the solutions and be subject to another shooting .

Jonny D Foxtrot
Jonny D Foxtrot

Fuck the evidence...put this guy in the middle of Civic Center Park and shoot him in the back of the head

Nick Klissiaris
Nick Klissiaris

I think you guys should team up with TMZ and do a massive, tremendous, unprecedented, exclusive, adjective-laden interview. Personally, I'm really curious as to what he eats for breakfast.

Shannon M Casey
Shannon M Casey

What person would give him five minutes of interest, other than authorities and people handling his sentencing? Speculating about his life now is useless. As far as I am concerned he's already dead. I like what Hickenlooper said: He will not address him by anything other than, suspect A. He should have been shot dead in the parking lot in Aurora.

Josh Bradley
Josh Bradley

Why does everone feel the need to know NOW? Keep it sealed, minimizes chances of him getting off on a technicality, and we'll get all the details when the trial is over. Wth are we gonna do with the info anyway? Perpetuate the media circus and play "let's pretend we're all psychologists and criminal investigators"? *slow clap* A few months of waiting wont hurt anyone.

Lisa Baxter
Lisa Baxter

nope..no...it could jepordize the case..keep it sealed until trial

Julie Miller
Julie Miller

No! Why so the media can make a circus out of it? They do with everything else

Chad Kopecky
Chad Kopecky

I don't know. Have read that it may taint a jury. Why else should it be so secretive?

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