CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) - The judge presiding over accused mass murderer James Holmes' trial rejected as "meritless" a request for his recusal, denying defense allegations that he has been "hostile and demeaning."
Holmes, 26, is accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens at a midnight premiere of a Batman movie at the Century 16 Theaters in Aurora on July 20, 2012. Prosecutors indicated they will seek the death penalty. Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour is presiding.
In a Motion for Change of Judge filed Thursday, Holmes' attorneys said: "Throughout the course of this litigation, the court frequently ruled against the defense. While it is not unusual for a court to disagree with motions filed by the defense in a criminal case, it is neither common nor necessary for a court to take a tone in its orders that is as hostile and demeaning to defense counsel as the tone this court has increasingly taken in this case. Because that language in the court's recent orders reflects a heightened level of disdain that demonstrates that court's 'bent of mind' against the defense, Mr. Holmes believes that good cause exists for filing this motion, and that a change of judge is warranted."
Then for three pages Holmes' public defenders list words Samour has used in rulings on their previous motions: "devoid of merit," "rehash," "meritless," "unfounded and unreasonable," and "lackluster."
The attorneys claim that Samour shows disdain for the defense team in his rulings and as a result, should leave.
"Recusal is justified in this case because it may 'reasonably be inferred' from the court's deprecatory and hostile tone in its orders, that the court's disdain for defense counsel creates a 'bias or prejudice that will in all probability prevent it from dealing fairly with the petitioner," the motion states.
Samour late Friday "denied as meritless" the request for his recusal.
"That the undersigned is straightforward and does not mince words in his rulings is not evidence of bias," Samour wrote.
He added: "The undersigned's unwavering resolution and commitment to control these proceedings and to ensure compliance with all of the applicable rules, to doggedly demand proper deference from all counsel, and to unconditionally defend the dignity and honor of his court should not be confused with the untenable allegations of misconduct advanced in Motion D-253. The undersigned refuses to apologize for doing that which all judges are required to do, regardless of whether the case before them is a death penalty case or not.
"The defense's motion for a change of judge is devoid of merit and would unnecessarily delay this case significantly. Accordingly, it is denied."
A hearing Tuesday will discuss redactions of audio and video recordings, and storage of evidence that may be introduced at trial.
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