Judge considers whether to allow cameras in court during Aurora theater shooting trial

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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- Cameras in the courtroom were the topic of debate before the judge in the Aurora theater shooting case Monday.

The judge says he realizes how many people are following this case and that his decision will not be made lightly.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree they don't want a camera in the courtroom. They both argue that this case is too complicated with too many witnesses.

But the judge asked if those aren't some of the same reasons it should be allowed.

Judge Carlos Samour called the James Holmes murder trial "one of the highest profile cases of all time," and that it's generating a huge amount of publicity with or without a camera in the courtroom.

But Holmes' attorneys and prosecutors argue cameras would create privacy and safety issues for victims and witnesses who have already been harassed ... feeling intimidated to testify and violating Holmes right to a fair trial.

Media attorney Diego Hunt is arguing for cameras in the courtroom. "Certainly the court has to be concerned with the interest of the parties and providing a fair trial, protecting the interests of victims and witnesses but at the same time the court is aware that there is a need for public access."

"A good number of the victims in this case have sought out publicity ... have sought to advance causes in the public sphere and they're not inhibited by being in front of a camera," media attorney Steven Zansburg says.

In fact, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 1984 expanded media coverage can be allowed if it meets the following requirements:

  • Doesn't violate a defendant's right to fair trial
  • Maintains the solemnity of the court
  • Has no adverse effect on the outcome

Media lawyers argued there's never been a case of expanded media coverage causing problems with a trial in Colorado. However it's never been allowed in a capital murder case.

Attorneys who favor a televised trial claim the Holmes case has sparked worldwide debate over gun violence and mental health. "In Colorado and beyond people are looking to this case for an understanding of those concepts and to see how justice is handled in these proceedings," Diego Hunt says.

The proposal calls for one video camera and one still camera in the courtroom during the trial.

The judge says he will make his decision about whether to allow cameras in the courtroom in a week.

Jury selection is set to begin for trial in early December.

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