Judge Samour, the justice presiding over James Holmes’ murder trial for the Aurora theater shootings, has allowed the jury to view a video of James Holmes talking to a psychiatrist. The video, which is over 22 hours long, includes James Holmes describing what he saw and felt when he carried out the mass shooting. Defense attorneys argue showing the video of James talking directly to the psychiatrist is a violation of his Fifth Amendment right of self-incrimination. Judge Samour has denied multiple requests to prevent the video from being shown to a jury. The video is so important to the case that the Defense has filed for a mistrial. Unsurprisingly, that request was denied. To counter-balance what the defense argues is a violation of the defendants’ rights, Judge Samour instructed the jury to use the evidence only for a specific purpose. The jury is to contemplate the evidence only in the context of determining James Holmes’ mental state at the time of the incident.
Often times as defense attorneys we are told that certain evidence may be prejudicial to a client but that the jury will be given an instruction to only use information for one purpose. It is naive of the courts to ever believe that jurors will be able to fully compartmentalize information in such a manner without causing potential harm to the defense.
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Cite: Jordan Steffen, The Denver Post, 6/24/2015