Judge disqualifies three jurors during James Holmes death penalty trial

June 11, 2015

Judge Carlos A. Samour, Jr., dismissed three jurors for misconduct yesterday in the James Holmes murder trial. Holmes is accused of shooting to death 12 and injuring 70 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012 during the premiere showing of a new Batman film. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty even though he is pleading insanity and was severely mentally ill at the time of the mass shooting.

The dismissal is unlikely to affect the legitimacy of the trial because the judge seated 24 jurors (19 women and 5 men). The jury that will decide the cased will be composed of 12 of those jurors. The rest will be alternates.

The hullabaloo that precipitated the dismissal started with a phone call to a juror from her husband during a smoke break for the jurors. The LA Times describes what happened.

The jury problems started when Juror 872’s phone rang during a break last week. Although she and her husband knew that she was not allowed to discuss the case, her husband called to ask about news reports that one of the attorneys had tweeted about the case from the courtroom.

Her phone was on speaker, and she was one of five people on the court’s patio, where jurors gather to smoke.

This is what 872 said under questioning by Samour: “Last Thursday or Friday, my husband called me and asked me a question about what he saw on Facebook about Twitter. He was on speaker…. He asked me if I knew who the lawyer was.

“I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘That idiot was tweeting on Facebook.’ He knows I’m not supposed to talk about it. I don’t look at it in the paper…. Him and I got into a big argument about it. It just happened to be at lunch.”

Juror 872’s husband also asked her whether she knew who “Brauchler” is, referring to Arapahoe County Dist. Atty. George H. Brauchler, who is the main prosecutor in the case and who sent the offending tweet.

“I said, ‘He’s one of the lawyers,'” 872 recounted in court Tuesday, as the rest of the jurors waited outside of Division 201. “He said, ‘Well that idiot tweeted during the testimony.’ He didn’t say what he tweeted.”

On Thursday, Brauchler tweeted, “I agree on the video. I hope the jury thinks so too.” According to the Denver Post, he later apologized, explained that he thought he was sending a text, not tweeting, and took the offending post down quickly.

The video is a reference to the 22 hour interview of Mr. Holmes by a psychiatrist that was played in court. Holmes admitted during the interview that he knew he was breaking the law when he opened fire on the audience. His admission means he was not legally insane, although that is yet to be determined by the jury.

As anyone who served on a jury knows, jurors are prohibited from discussing the case with anyone, including other jurors, during the trial. The phone call and the resulting discussion violated that rule and the rest, as they say, is history.


Judge Healey dismisses juror today in Michael Dunn retrial

September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Good evening:

Crane and I are safely out of Kentucky and settling in at a new location that we are not going to identify due to continuing concerns about our safety. We still do not have ongoing reliable access to the internet, which is why you have not heard from us recently. We hope to have that problem solved within the next few days.

The most interesting incident today occurred when Judge Healey dismissed Juror #4 because of an article published in Folio Weekly titled, An Interview with a Dunn Jury reject.

Leslie Coursey at ActionNewsJax.com has the story,

A former Folio staffer who was a potential juror but did not make the final cut heard the juror criticize State Attorney Angela Corey during jury selection, according to Folio.

Here’s the quote from the Folio article:

“A 400-pound white schoolteacher who was sitting by me really hated [Corey’s] humor, and made the joke that ‘she would have a hard time proving to a court that I am fat; there would still be reasonable doubt.’”

The Folio writer confirmed to Action News at 12:35 p.m. that it was his article that led to the dismissal of juror #4.

The juror is a white male.

There are two black jurors.

Rhonda Rourer testified today, sobbing as she did before. In the unsurprising-news department, she is no longer engaged to Michael Dunn.

The trial, which is being live-streamed, will resume on Monday.


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