Lawyers in James Holmes Case Want Private Jury Selection

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Lawyers on both sides of the case against accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes argued Thursday to keep the lengthy jury selection process closed to the public and media.

Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. said he would expect a public challenge if that happens, and plans to rule on the request at a later time.

Holmes’ attorneys also waived his right to a speedy trial, pushing its potential start date back again — this time to an April 2015 deadline.

The task of selecting a jury of 12 and alternates could take months and involve summoning thousands of prospective jurors, Samour said.

Holmes, 26, appeared in court Thursday sporting a reddish beard and dark stringy hair. He appeared to have gained some weight in the almost two years since the massacre in Aurora that claimed the lives of 12 theatergoers and injured 70 others.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty for reason of insanity. He didn't speak in court, but squirmed in his swivel chair when Samour spoke to him directly.

Holmes’ public defender, Dan King, argued to close the entire jury selection process because prospective jurors will have to answer personal questions about mental health and the death penalty.

They “should not have to answer these questions before a world stage,” King said.

He also expressed concern that with the public and media present, “it would be difficult to get honest answers” to critical questions.

Prosecutor Karen Pearson also argued to close the judge’s planned opening remarks to the jury pool.

Given the potentially large jury pool, Samour said, he is inclined to set time limits on attorneys who plan to question each prospective juror in a process known as voir dire.

— Jack Chesnutt