The Denver Post reports, "James Holmes trial: Judge clears insanity plea's constitutionality," by John Ingold.
Colorado's laws for insanity pleas do not violate the U.S. Constitution, the judge in the Aurora movie theater shooting murder case has ruled.
The judge's order clears up the last disputed issues around a tendered insanity plea for theater shooting suspect James Holmes. Judge Carlos Samour, who issued Wednesday's ruling, is expected to decide at a hearing on Friday whether to accept Holmes' insanity plea.
Attorneys for Holmes argued that the state's laws on insanity pleas violated Holmes' rights against self-incrimination.
The laws require defendants pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to cooperate in a court-ordered independent psychiatric evaluation. If defendants do not cooperate, they will be barred from calling any mental-health experts of their own to testify on their behalf at trial — or at a death-penalty sentencing hearing.
Holmes' attorneys said the laws amounted to a compulsion to confess. They also said the law hurts Holmes' rights to due process because evidence of noncooperation could be used against him. "[I]t is well settled and fundamental that a defendant may not be penalized for the exercise of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent," Holmes' attorneys wrote in a motion earlier this year.
"James Holmes' Insanity Challenge Rejected: Judge Upholds Colorado Laws As Constitutional," is Dan Elliott's AP filing, via Huffington Post.
Colorado's laws on insanity pleas and the death penalty are constitutional, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting a key argument by lawyers for the defendant in the deadly movie theater shootings.
Attorneys for James Holmes contended the laws could work in combination to potentially cripple the insanity defense if the case ever gets to a jury. They wanted Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. to address their concerns before Holmes formally enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Wednesday's ruling could clear the way for Samour to accept Holmes' insanity plea at a hearing scheduled for Friday. But the defense could ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, further delaying the case.
In his ruling, Samour said the law's restrictions on presenting mitigating evidence about a defendant's mental state are not as broad as the defense claimed.
Samour also said he would require state doctors to get Samour's permission to use a narcoanalytic interview, noting that prosecutors have already agreed to such an arrangement.
Holmes needs court permission to change his plea because a judge entered a standard not guilty plea on his behalf in March. Samour is likely to approve the change, but Holmes would first have to agree to the conditions, including the requirement that he cooperate during the mental evaluation.
"Theater-Shooting Suspect Loses Death Penalty Law Challenge," is by Joel Rosenblatt for Bloomberg News.
Samour ruled the Colorado death penalty law is constitutional “on its face” without applying it to Holmes’s case in particular, Steinhauser said. Lawyers for Holmes may appeal the ruling or wait to see if the alleged flaws in the law end up applying to their client and challenge it later, she said.
Public defenders representing Holmes objected on due process grounds to a provision of Colorado law blocking him from calling witnesses at any sentencing hearing to present evidence about his mental condition if he doesn’t cooperate with court-appointed psychiatrists. Under state law, psychiatrists can require Holmes to submit to interviews under the influence of a so-called truth serum, according to Steinhauser.
The judge who previously handled the case, William Sylvester, ruled that prosecutors may require Holmes to submit to a “narcoanalytic interview” under the influence of “medically appropriate” drugs. Such drugs can enable a person to recall something they’re having difficulty remembering.