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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Rebukes Accused Killer’s Lawyers

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - The judge in accused "Batman" movie mass murderer James Holmes' case said Holmes' attorneys included an inaccurate, retyped judicial order in appealing a ruling on whether a Colorado court can subpoena a Fox News reporter.

Holmes is charged with 166 felony counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder, for the 2012 shootings during a midnight showing of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."

Prosecutors indicated they will seek the death penalty.

Holmes attorney Daniel Arshack filed a 106-page writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 6, asking justices to reconsider a ruling on whether a court in Colorado could subpoena Fox News reporter Jana Winters.

Winters was subpoenaed a year ago to testify in Holmes' trial after she reported that Holmes had mailed a notebook to his psychiatrist that contained violent images before to the 2012 mass murders in a Colorado movie theater. Winters' story cited law enforcement officials. Holmes' attorneys said Winter violated a gag order from Chief Judge William Blair Sylvester in Centennial.

The New York Court of Appeals denied Holmes' attorneys motion in December, stating that reporters have absolute protection in New York State under a shield law, where Winter lives and works, and that she would not have to testify in Colorado.

In the writ, Holmes' attorneys included an order from Judge Carlos Samour, who took over Holmes' murder case, stating that Winter's testimony "may well prove to be a critical piece of evidence in this case."

Judge Samour filed a notice last Tuesday to the parties involved in the Supreme Court stating that the copy is not accurate to his order.

"(A)lthough Appendix E has the Court's signature, it is not an accurate copy of the Court's Order," Samour wrote. "It appears that the Order was retyped- presumably to comply with the Supreme Court's format requirement. In the process, however, words were inadvertently omitted and typographical errors were committed. Since Appendix E purports to be an accurate copy of the Court's Order, the Court felt compelled to issue this notice."

The Supreme Court has not indicated whether it will hear the case. If they refuse, the New York Court of Appeals ruling will stand.

Arshack is a member of Arshack, Hajek & Lehrman in New York City.

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