Theater shooting victims petition court for access to sealed documents
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Through numerous court proceedings, the judge has repeatedly ruled to keep arrest and search warrants and other investigative reports sealed in the James Holmes theater shooting case.
Lawyers on both sides have argued, and the judge argued, that’s necessary to protect the investigation. But three shooting victims who have filed a federal lawsuit against the theater want the judge to let them have the information for their lawsuit.
Legal expert, David Beller says, “Their lawyer is asking that the court rely on a part of the Victims’ Rights Act in order to give this special group of individuals access to documents not otherwise available to the public.”
He says it’s a creative argument, but probably will not work. Beller says, “Victims have no additional rights to police reports, investigations than any other member of the public.”
He says the Victims’ Rights Act is designed to give victims a voice in the proceedings, for instance in plea bargains or sentencing. He says, “The law is not designed to give them extra access to things.”
The judge says he will wait for defense and prosecuting attorneys to respond before making his ruling. But he did say he does not have jurisdiction over Cinemark and denied these three victims’ request to order the theater to give them and their lawyers special access inside the theater.
Beller says they could always ask the federal judge handling the lawsuit to issue such an order.
Beller says these motions are mostly legal maneuverings, designed to protect the victims’ rights concerning these issues in the lawsuit.