Aurora theater shooting trial judge appointed to Colorado Supreme Court

DENVER — Carlos Samour Jr., who presided over the Aurora theater shooting trial, was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Samour was chosen among three who were nominated to fill the seat of Chief Justice Nancy Rice, who is retiring at the end of June. Samour will begin his term on July 2.

“I will do everything within my power to make Colorado proud,” said Samour, who currently serves as the chief judge for the 18th Judicial District that encompasses Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.

“I can promise you as a justice on the Colorado Supreme Court, as an associate justice, I will sacrifice, suffer and struggle every day in a pursuit of justice. I will seek justice every day with tireless exertion.”

It was the fifth pick for Hickenlooper to the high court. The term-limited governor leaves office in January.

The other candidates were Second Judicial District Judge Karen Brody and former 20th Judicial District Chief Judge Maria Berkenkotter.

“All three of the candidates that we spent several hundred hours as a team working on spoke persuasively about the importance of fairness and impartiality in our judicial system,” Hickenlooper said. “But Judge Carlos Samour was the one who really lived that reality.”

Samour escaped civil war in El Salvador with his family as a young boy and rose to prominence in the prosecution of the Aurora theater gunman, who killed 12 and wounded 70 in the July 20, 2012 attack.

The gunman was convicted on 165 counts, but the jury spared him the death penalty.

“The seven-month jury trial was exceedingly challenging and required me to overcome myriad legal, logistical and strategic hurdles,” Samour wrote in his application for the high court.

“Many aspects of the case forced me to navigate uncharted waters, and there was no handbook or expert to consult for guidance.”

Samour also released Rene Lima-Marin, who was reincarcerated after being accidentally freed from prison. Hickenlooper pardoned Lima-Marin.

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