James Holmes, the man accused of murdering 12 people, and injuring 58 more with an assault rifle at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, has made a plea of insanity in an Arapahoe county court Thursday.
Holmes is charged with 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other offenses in connection with the July 20th attack on the Century Aurora 16 movie theater.
Before I get into the legal ramifications of the case, because of my emotional state, and my lack of faith in our court system, (e.g. Casey Anthony, and O.J. Simpson), I must ask some questions based on reality, and not the vague manipulations of legal ploys.
Evidence shows that Holmes planned his attack for months. He went to the theater and diagramed the method and physical location that would allow him to kill as many innocent people as possible. He accumulated weaponry sufficient to complete his savagery, and placed ‘booby-traps’ inside his residence to kill those investigating his atrocity. Are these the actions of an individual who is insane?
The legal technicalities that are beginning to surface will cause furor about, and increase the doubt that our legal system is fair and effective.
The first consideration will be “Does Colorado’s requirement that defendants pleading not guilty by reason of insanity must cooperate in a court-ordered mental-health examination violate protections against self-incrimination”?
The judge quickly decided that a speedy decision must be forthcoming. He ordered both sides to be ready next week to hear arguments about Holmes’ plea.
“The Court will make itself available whenever the parties are available,” Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour wrote in Thursday’s order.
The defense stood by their decision to change Holmes’ plea. They claim to have an ‘expert’ who says the suspect is and was mentally ill when he he killed 12 people and injured dozens of others in the July 2012 shooting. His defense team formally asked the judge to change Holmes’ plea from “not guilty” to “not guilty by reason of insanity.”
The judge asked if the defense had “good cause to file a change” of plea. The defense said they did.
Last month, when the prosecution decided to formally announce that they would seek the death penalty, the defense began to make indications they would seek the insanity plea.
Earlier this year, public defenders had asked then-presiding Judge William Sylvester to declare the state’s insanity defense law unconstitutional because it forces a defendant to cooperate with court-appointed psychiatrists.
They argued that compelling Holmes to possibly divulge information that could be used against him at trial and in sentencing violated his right against self-incrimination, especially in a death-penalty case.
“It is well-established law in Colorado that submitting to court-ordered evaluation does not violate a defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” they wrote in a court filing.
The defense’s argument stated: “Mr. Holmes’ mental illness hasn’t changed in the last 60 days. No mental expert worth their salt will render an opinion until they have a chance to review all the material.”
What once was thought to be a case resulting in a decision by a jury that would convict Holmes unanimously within minutes of deliberation, is suddenly becoming a complicated issue stemming from a change in his plea.
In a country where excuses for criminal actions are frequently blamed on dysfunctional families, child abuse, or emotional neglect, when will the legal system be revised to face reality, and ensure that perpetrators face responsibility for their actions?
The majority of those in the legal profession make their money by taking a position on the side of those who have committed crimes, including atrocities such as that in Aurora.
Is it any wonder that the majority of our Congressmen and Senators have a degree in law?
The Guardian Express