DENVER (AP) — Jury selection in the Colorado theater shootings case will be open to the public and the news media, the judge said Wednesday.
District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. denied requests from prosecutors and the defense to close all or part of the process, saying openness and media scrutiny will "enhance the reliability and fairness of the process."
Jury selection is scheduled to start Oct. 14 for the trial of James Holmes, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the 2012 attack. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The defense argued the presence of reporters would intimidate prospective jurors and discourage them from being candid about any prejudices they have, making it impossible to choose an unbiased jury.
In his 29-page ruling, Samour called that a "doomsday prediction" and said it was only speculation. He said the presence of reporters would probably discourage potential jurors from making up answers.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, argued an open jury selection would not preclude Holmes from getting a fair trial.
Prosecutors had asked that individual questioning of potential jurors be closed to prevent them from learning through news reports what they would be asked. Samour responded they will probably figure out what kinds of questions they'll face based on a questionnaire they will fill out first.
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