Aurora Theater Shooting

Aurora theater shooting judge: Unsealing CU info worse than trying to unring a bell

Part of the court record in the case of accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes will be unsealed, a judge ruled today. Arapahoe County District Court Judge William Sylvester will allow some motions and the register of actions, a chronological list of actions in a case, to be made public. However, the arrest warrants, search warrants and affidavits will remain sealed, he ruled. Furthermore, the University of Colorado Denver, where Holmes was a grad student, will continue to be under a gag order.

In his ruling, Sylvester wrote that disclosure of Holmes's "privileged information" by UCD could have "serious far-reaching and potentially irreparable consequences" and would interfere with the investigation. Holmes was being treated by a university psychiatrist who reportedly warned a UCD threat team about him. The university hasn't commented.

"If such an improvident disclosure were to occur, it would not simply be a case of trying to 'unring the bell,'" he wrote. "A better analogy would be like stepping on the brakes of an automobile in midair after driving off a cliff -- a driver can pump the brakes all he/she wants, but the impending wreck is inevitable."

The 34 unsealed motions will be posted online, and court personnel say they're working to do so. In his ruling, Sylvester listed the motions to be made public. Among others, they include these two motions from the defense: "Motion to Allow Confidential Defense Experts to be Present for Scientific Testing of Evidence" and "Motion to Allow Defendant to Sit at Counsel Table." Many of the other motions are related to media coverage.

Sylvester declined to lift the gag order in the case. However, he also refused to extend the gag order to Steve Zansberg, an attorney who represents several media organizations seeking to unseal the file. Holmes's defense attorney, Daniel King, requested that the order specifically name Zansberg.

Read the judge's latest motions below.

Order Regarding Motion to Unseal Court File (Redacted)

Amended Order Regarding Motion to Limit Pre-Trial Publicity (Redacted)

For more, read our Aurora Theater Shooting archive.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar