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Sunday, August 19, 2012

James Holmes Trial

James Holmes Trial - Judge should let public in on James Holmes trial, who viewed photographs on The Denver Post's website taken last week outside the court hearing for James Holmes surely noticed the remarkable resolve of injured victims and victims' family members who were there.
We mention this because the news media's interest in covering cases such as the Aurora shooting is sometimes denounced as grubby sensationalism. And yet critics who make this charge wouldn't dream of accusing victims and families who go to these proceedings of having similar motives; indeed, any suggestion along those lines would be obscene.
Victims are understood to be interested because of their thirst for justice and their involuntary connection to the suspect.
What's often forgotten, however, is that a thirst for justice — although obviously not as intense — extends far beyond the circle of victims and families. It includes many other members of the community, and in a crime of this magnitude could be said to encompass the entire state.
In other words, people often follow such stories because they're responsible citizens, not because they are voyeurs out for cheap thrills.
That's one reason we hope District Judge William Sylvester reconsiders his rulings that have imposed an unusual shroud of secrecy on the case. A hearing on a motion by the media to unseal the court file, for example, comes up later this week.
To be clear, we're not talking about items that could jeopardize the defendant's right to a fair trial but rather routine motions and such documents as executed search warrants. Even the number and nature of filings have not been officially disclosed, although these court records are generally open to inspection.
Even more disturbing, Sylvester ordered the University of Colorado to seal all records relating to Holmes, including those normally subject to the Colorado Open Records Act. As it happens, CORA does include a mechanism to seal records given a "substantial" public interest in doing so. Yet those procedures were bypassed.
Was that because authorities sought to hide the fact that a CU psychiatrist who had been seeing the accused was so alarmed that she notified a threat-assessment team, as news reports last week revealed? We'd like to believe otherwise, but it's hard not to harbor suspicions.
Meanwhile, Aurora has also invoked the judge's gag rules in refusing to release documents normally covered by CORA, although we believe the city misinterprets the judge's intentions.
We realize the trial of Holmes is likely to attract more attention than any held in this state since Timothy McVeigh's — and his was a federal case — but that hardly means all rules regarding access and transparency should be suspended.
In fact, barriers against secrecy are important in part because of the heightened public interest and the widespread desire for justice.

James Holmes Trial Rating: 4.5 Diposkan Oleh: Arm Aritn


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