CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Potential jurors in the Aurora movie theater shooting case will see defendant James Holmes during their very first meeting at the courthouse.
Thursday, lawyers for Holmes and prosecutors met to discuss jury selection. About 5,000 potential jurors will get a summons.
James Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The judge ruled that the first time potential jury members come to the courthouse, they will be brought into the courtroom where the trial will be held. There, the potential jurors will see the judge, attorneys for both sides and James Holmes.
The prosecution objected to allowing Holmes to see potential jurors.
"Seeing us and seeing the defense would be seen as exerting influence," said prosecutor Karen Pearson.
"If the defendant wants to be present, then he has a right to be present," said Judge Carlos Samour, Jr.
Since jurors will now be brought to the courtroom instead of the jury assembly room, they will be brought in in groups of 150, instead of 300. The process will now take 34 sessions to complete, instead of 17.
--Attorneys request jury selection be closed to the public--
Attorneys for both sides requested that the jury selection process be closed to the public.
"If there were jurors who would be concerned with, 'Who's going to be knocking on my door tonight,' that's extremely troubling to us," said defense attorney Daniel King.
The judge said that if he allowed the jury selection process to remain open to the public, it would be via closed circuit television and only show his introductory remarks to each session.
The judge is expecting an objection from members of the media and will wait to rule on this until he's seen the objection.
--Jury questionnaire process--
Potential jurors will get an introduction from the judge and an information packet. The judge expects the introduction to last about 10 minutes, then the judge, attorneys and Holmes will leave and the potential jurors will fill out a questionnaire.
"The questionnaire is fairly lengthy, I think it will take them a good two to three hours," said Samour.
In addition to the jury questionnaire, the information packets are expected to include a list of witnesses for potential jurors to review, a transcript of the judge's instructions and the behavior potential jurors are expected to exhibit outside the court. Potential jurors could be eliminated simply for knowing any of the people listed on the witness list.
Jury selection is expected to start on October and the judge said it could take up to three months. Lawyers for both sides agree that early stages of the selection process should be closed to the public and press. Prosecutors, however, want to keep open the final round of proceedings, when 24 jurors will be chosen from a pool of 150.
Defense attorneys also want to expand what potential jurors are questioned about during voir dire -- the selection process. Currently, potential jurors may be questioned about pretrial publicity, potential hardships to serving and the death penalty. Defense attorneys also want to ask potential jurors about insanity. The judge is taking that request under advisement and will rule on that at a later time.
Jurors will also be instructed that they will likely be called back for individual questioning if they don't fill out the entire juror questionnaire.
The prosecution brought up a concern about witnesses or victims receiving jury summonses. The defense said that while that would be unfortunate, they would want those people to come in and go through the process and be excused on the record, so there could be record keeping of the jury process.
Not wanting to make a ruling on an issue that hasn't presented itself, the judge told prosecutors to notify him if a named victim receives a jury summons.