When James Holmes goes on trial next year for the murder of 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, the process for finding and selecting the jury could be the biggest this country has ever seen. Judge Carlos Samour has announced that the court will send out 5,000 jury summons just for this one case, with as many 3,200 people going through the voie dire process to filter out the 12 impartial citizens who will sit on the panel.
It would be the largest jury pool in state history, and one expert believes it could be the largest in U.S. history. As a comparison, the jury pool used to selected the six jurors and four alternates for the George Zimmerman trial was about 500 people. It also means if you live in Arapaho County, Colorado, there is a 1-in-90 chance that you will be called upon for this case.
The actual trial is not scheduled to being until February 2014, but Judge Carlos Samour is already preparing the details for what is sure to be a lengthy and complex proceeding. It will be virtually impossible to find 12 people anywhere in the country who haven't heard about (or vividly remember) the night Holmes walked into a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and shot 70 people. Despite all that, and the unquestionable reality that media attention for this trial will be intense, the judge also ruled that the jury will not be sequestered, mainly because it is expected to go on for several months and is unlikely to do much good. (Samour called it an "unnecessarily drastic, expensive and impractical remedy.")
In one other small but important decision, Samour also ruled that Holmes must remain carefully restrained throughout the trial, but the 25-year-old will wear a harness that fits under his clothes and will anchor him the floor. The restraint will be invisible to the jury so as not to prejudice their opinion.
There are sure to be many more procedural rulings before February as the defense and the prosecution continue to haggle over exactly how the case can be presented, particularly when it comes to Holmes's mental state under the complex insanity-defense laws in Colorado. Earlier this month he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, however, prosecutors will still attempt to seek the death penalty. The defense is also still attempting to move the case to another part of the state.
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