James Holmes case: Fox News reporter must appear in court despite chainsaw argument

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Update: The judge in the Aurora theater shooting case has ordered Fox News reporter Jana Winter to appear in court on August 19 so that he may continue her subpoena until September 30. In a submission filed last week, Winter refused to consent to appear on September 30, thereby making it necessary for the judge to hold a hearing on August 19 simply for the purpose of ordering her to come back in September. In an order (on view below), the judge chastises Winter for using her submission to once again argue that her subpoena should be dropped altogether.

"When the August 19 hearing was postponed until September 30, the only question for the Court was whether Winter would consent to return on September 30 instead of appearing on August 19," Judge Carlos Samour wrote. "A simple 'no' would have sufficed."

In addition to that "no," Winter's attorneys repeated their request for the judge to quash Winter's subpoena, citing the "significant hardship" it has caused her.

The journalist then filed an affidavit (also shared here), explaining that the subpoena had chilled her sources, interfered with her personal life -- including her role as maid of honor in a friend's wedding -- and caused her more fear than the times that she had a gun pointed at her head and was chased with a chainsaw.

"Asking Winter whether she was willing to consent to have her subpoena continued off the record without her appearance until September 30 was not an invitation to file an additional brief on the merits of her motion" to quash the subpoena, Samour wrote. "This appears to have been an improper attempt at getting two bites at the proverbial apple."

Continue to read our original post, Winter's affidavit, her lawyers' submission and the judge's order for Winter to appear on August 19. Original post, July 2: Fox News reporter Jana Winter has submitted another affidavit (on view below) in support of her request that the judge in the Aurora theater shooting case quash her subpoena to testify about her unnamed sources.

In it, Winter writes that the subpoena has negatively impacted her life. It has chilled her sources, she writes, interfered with her personal life -- including her role as maid of honor in a friend's wedding -- and caused her more fear than the times that she had a gun pointed at her head and was chased with a chainsaw.

Winter was subpoenaed by suspect James Holmes's defense attorneys after she wrote a story that cited two unnamed law-enforcement sources as saying that a notebook that Holmes mailed to psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton contained "details about how he was going to kill people." Holmes's attorneys want to know who violated a gag order in the case and "leaked" that information to Winter.

Winter complied with the subpoena by showing up to Arapahoe County District Court back in April. But she was not forced to take the stand. Instead, Judge Carlos Samour ordered her to come back on August 19. At a hearing last week, he postponed that date until September 30. Samour gave Winter's lawyers until July 2 to inform him whether Winter would "voluntarily appear" on September 30.

The answer, according to a submission filed by Winter's attorneys, is "no." Instead, they repeat their request for the judge to quash Winter's subpoena altogether. One of the reasons they cite is the "significant hardship" it has caused Winter.

Winter's affidavit details that hardship. She notes that sources for several important stories, including one about "potential breaches of a major national defense program," stopped talking to her after they learned that she'd been subpoenaed. She even includes a screenshot of a text message she received from a source informing her that another key source was hesitant to talk after the "sources thung (sic)."

"Much of my career to date has been devoted to developing a robust roster of contacts in law enforcement and local, city and state, and federal government," she writes. "As a result of this subpoena, about 80 percent of these individuals now refuse to speak with me."

She adds: "This is so even though I have steadfastly and consistently stated that will not violate the bedrock tenets of my chosen profession and I will not burn my sources."

Winter also says the subpoena has caused her "extreme emotional anxiety" -- more so than the times she was caught in the middle of gunfire or "chased with an electric chainsaw." The subpoena has also caused "upheaval in my personal life," Winter says, noting that she may not be able to attend the wedding of her closest childhood friend, even though she's maid of honor, and is limited in her ability to care for an ill family member.

She asks that Judge Samour end her distress by quashing the subpoena. "My career is being diminished beyond recognition," she writes, "and freedom of speech is dying a slow death for every day that the heavy weight of this subpoena presses down on me."

Continue to read Winter's affidavit and her lawyers' submission.

Affidavit of Jana Winter

Submission of Jana Winter Re: August 19 Hearing

Order Re: Jana Winter's Submission With Respect to August 19 Hearing

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes case: Judge grants extension for mental health evaluation."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.