COMMENTARY | One would think, as a person who writes about the news, that I would be in full agreement with the media’s legal request that the court files pertaining to the case against the accused Aurora movie shooter be unsealed. But, truthfully, I don’t agree with unsealing the files. I think that justice for the families of the 12 people who were murdered at a movie theater in July and the 58 who were wounded is far more important than anything that I might write.
According to the Denver Post , attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution in James Holmes’ case argued against unsealing the files in a Colorado courtroom on Thursday. A number of news outlets, including the Denver Post, had filed a motion there in which they argued that the public deserves to know more information.
Certainly, the public deserves “access to records of criminal prosecutions,” as the media argues. And certainly the public will have that access. As far as I can tell, though, the investigation into what happened is still taking place, both for the prosecution and for the attorneys who are preparing to defend Holmes.
Because the investigation is still taking place, anything that is released to the public is an incomplete picture of what happened or what will happen in the case. And yet every piece of information will be undoubtedly picked through, with the most jarring details trotted out on a daily basis, left for opinion and analysis that might have been different had the file been complete. On Thursday, the prosecution stated that police investigators still have hundreds of people who need to be interviewed or reinterviewed in the case. The defense has yet to see photographs, expert reports or the recordings of interviews. That’s how far we are away from completion: hundreds of people, photographs, expert reports, recordings of interviews.
Holmes is innocent until proven guilty. And he has the right to a fair trial. Yes, he confessed to the crime. No one is questioning that. What is being questioned, however, is why. And why is a huge question indeed, considering that it must be proven in order to find him guilty of first-degree murder. That’s the premise that our justice system relies on. Justice for the victims and the families of the victims who died in Aurora on July 20 is dependent far more on Holmes getting a fair trial in the courtroom than on Holmes being the subject of more discussion and debate in the news. It is for this reason that I think the files should remain sealed until such time as the investigation is complete.