A hearing today in the Aurora theater shooting case may have set a record for the shortest court proceeding ever.
It took less than sixty seconds this morning for a judge to order New York-based Fox News journalist Jana Winter to return to Colorado on September 30 for a continuation of her subpoena, according to court spokesman Rob McCallum, who was at the hearing. "That's the shortest period of time I've ever been in court for a hearing," he says.
Winter was subpoenaed by suspect James Holmes's defense attorneys after she wrote a story citing 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 the identity of Winter's sources -- and they're requesting that whoever spoke to the journalist be sanctioned for violating a gag order in the case.
"The discovery received thus far supports the defense's concern that the government was responsible for leaking information about the contents of the package to the media," Holmes's attorneys wrote in a motion filed back in October.
Winter complied with the subpoena by showing up to Arapahoe County District Court in April. But she was not forced to take the stand and reveal her sources. Instead, Judge Carlos Samour ordered her to come back today. When delays related to Holmes's mental health evaluation caused a series of hearings scheduled for August to be pushed back to September, Samour set a new date for Winter to appear in court: September 30.
But Winter refused to agree to "voluntarily appear" on that date and used the opportunity for dialogue with the judge to argue that her subpoena should be dropped altogether. Winter even submitted an affidavit detailing the ways in which the subpoena has negatively impacted her life. For example, she claims it has 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.
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Samour didn't buy it. "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," he wrote in an order dated July 3. "A simple 'no' would have sufficed."
Because Winter refused to return voluntarily, it was necessary to hold a hearing today simply for the purpose of ordering her to come back in September. Judge William Sylvester, who presided over the case before handing the reins to Samour earlier this year, conducted the hearing because Samour had a scheduling conflict, McCallum says. Although several lawyers and journalists attended, Holmes was not in the courtroom.
Here's McCallum's Twitter dispatch:
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After a less than 60 second hearing, Jana Winter's subpoena in People v Holmes has been continued until Sept. 30.
— Rob McCallum (@rwmccallum) August 19, 2013