Court Orders C.U. to Deny Media Access to James Holmes' School Records
At the request of the district attorney, Arapahoe County Chief District Court Judge William Sylvester has ordered the University of Colorado not to turn over James Holmes' school records to the media. The media requested the records pursuant to Colorado open records law. The order is here.
In its motion, available here, the People disclosed some of the charges it will be filing against James Holmes. They include 12 counts of first degree murder, numerous counts of attempted murder and other charges.
Yesterday, the Judge granted a defense motion for law enforcement compliance with its order restricting extra-judicial comments: [More...]
The District Attorney’s Office and Law Enforcement Agencies involved in this case are hereby ORDERED to immediately comply with this Court’s previous order limiting pre-trial publicity, are directed to refrain from disseminating information that presents a danger to the fairness of a trial in this matter as set forth in the Court’s Pre-Trial Publicity Order (D-2), and are prohibited from disseminating any information or material that appears to possibly be privileged, or that Defendant alleges is privileged, until issues of privilege can be fully litigated.
The District Attorney’s Office is hereby ORDERED to immediately serve all Law Enforcement Agencies involved in this case with this Order as set forth in the Court’s Pre-Trial Publicity Order (D-2)
The media isn't happy with the judge's order barring cameras from Monday's court appearance. Why? The court has reserved seats for 35 media outlets and the public. If print journalists can't adequately describe a routine court appearance for the filing of charges without a camera, they should seek new employment. The cluelessness of the media is captured in this comment by the linked Washington Post reporter:
The “Dark Knight Rises” shooting rampage transfixed the country: What was the motivation? What kind of person could do this? The courtroom glimpse of Holmes offered some sense of the deranged person accused of the crime, an impression that could not have been conveyed by the most gifted wordsmith.
From a brief court appearance, the reporter has already decided Holmes is "deranged." Others viewed the same proceeding and thought he was acting. Still others thought he had been forcibly medicated. How does any of this rampant speculation assist anyone in understanding anything?
Getting a glimpse of Holmes at a routine hearing like the one set Monday for filing of charges is not going to answer any of the public's questions. It will sell papers and cause traffic spikes at media websites. It will only further baseless speculation and generate adverse publicity, making it more difficult for the court to seat a jury when and if the time comes.
If either the media or the members of the public want to view Holmes in court, they can get in their car or on a plane and stand in line at the courthouse Monday morning and view him in person. If they can't be bothered to do that, they can wait, like the rest of us, until evidence about his mental state and motivation emerges through witness testimony and admitted exhibits at a substantive hearing or trial.
Reporters from our local news stations and newspapers will be at hearing. Colorado has very competent reporters. I have no doubt they will be able to adequately express -- in words-- what transpired at the hearing. If the national news media wants the revenue from selling more newspapers and garnering more online traffic because of the case, they should shell out the bucks to send out a reporter and cover it live, rather than from a camera feed 2,000 miles away.
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