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James Holmes’ lawyers want closed jury selection
Question of the Day
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Lawyers for the man suspected of killing 12 people in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater told a judge Thursday they want the public and the media barred from the entire jury selection process.
Prosecutors agreed that individual questioning of potential jurors should be closed but said the last step should be kept open, when the panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates will be chosen.
District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. did not say when he would rule on the request.
James Holmes is charged with murder and attempted murder in the July 2012 attack, which also left 70 people wounded. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The trial is expected to take another five months.
Holmes appeared in court Thursday in shackles and red jail clothes. His thick beard had grown back out after he shaved it off late last year. He didn’t speak.
Defense attorney Daniel King argued that jury selection should be closed to protect potential jurors from harassment about their answers.
“That’s extremely troubling to us,” he said. He suggested a redacted transcript could be released after a jury is chosen, with prospective jurors’ names blacked out.
Prosecutor Karen Pearson said individual questioning should be closed to prevent potential jurors from learning through media reports what they would be asked.
Steve Zansberg, an attorney representing media organizations including The Associated Press, said outside the hearing that he plans to file a brief next week arguing against closure on First Amendment grounds.
“The First Amendment presumes that all aspects of a trial, including jury selection, are going to be open,” he said.
Prosecutors had objected, saying defense lawyers hadn’t cited any legal authority for allowing Holmes to be present.
Separately, KCNC-TV reported Thursday that the District Attorney’s Office has spent $685,462 on the case, but that doesn’t include most of the salaries of the prosecutors involved.
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