CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Wednesday morning’s jury selection session in the Aurora theater shooting trial began with a peculiar back-and-forth between a prospective juror and District Court Judge Carlos Samour. It was ultimately determined that the man went above and beyond the call to jury duty.
Why? Because it appeared the Post Office sent him a jury summons that wasn’t meant for him.
After a period of deliberation Wednesday morning, the court discovered the man’s jury summons had both a name and an address on it that did not belong to him. A series of oversights from the potential juror as well as the court led to the man showing up for jury duty earlier this week. When he filled out his jury questionnaire, he listed a name that was different than the one on the summons, prompting him to be called back before the court on Wednesday.
When the man said he was a little embarrassed that he didn’t notice the summons had both the wrong name and address, Judge Samour responded by saying it was the Post Office that should be embarrassed.
“Your mailman must be Cliff Clavin or something,” Judge Samour joked, mentioning the less-than-adept fictional postal worker from the 1980’s TV show “Cheers.”
The juror who mistakenly received a summons was dismissed with the court’s apologies. But it wasn’t immediately clear if the court would reach out to the woman who was supposed to receive his summons.
The moment of levity was well-representative the mood in the Arapahoe County courtroom on Wednesday morning, a day that seemed to see defendant James Holmes a bit more at ease.
Dressed in a sweater with his hair looking more disheveled than normal, the admitted gunman in the Aurora theater shooting, which left 12 dead and another 70 injured, adjusted his position in his chair and yawned several times. During the majority of the jury selection proceedings, which began on Jan. 20, Holmes has rarely moved or even shifted his gaze from straight ahead.
In total, there were 127 stipulated excusals agreed to by Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and the defense on Wednesday, along with 16 more excusals before the morning’s batch of jurors were briefed. That brings the total amount of dismissed jurors from the pool of 9,000 to 597.
It is expected that jury selection in the case will be completed by May or June. The process of elimination the court has been engaged in since Jan. 20 is scheduled to last until Feb. 13.
Several prospective jurors with English language issues and several others with doctor’s notes were among those released Wednesday morning. The juror who the court believes showed up drunk to jury duty earlier this week was not among those who were dismissed.
Several juror questions were introduced into the record Wednesday, as well. Several potential jurors rose questions about juror compensation, with the court always referring them to official documents. Those documents state that employers only have to pay jurors for three days of jury duty, and that jurors are paid $50 a day if they are not being compensated by there employer.
There are state laws that also prevent employers from firing an employee during jury duty.
Two potential jurors indicated that before arriving for jury duty, they had publicly speculated that they may have received a summons for this trial. The court advised those individual that they needed to cease communication about the trial henceforth, and that their previous comments could be investigated by the prosecution or the defense.
A final potential juror asked if she could discuss happenings in the trial with a professional counselor who she sees for regular appointments. The court informed her she could not.