The judge in the Colorado’s Aurora movie theater shooting trial dismissed three jurors yesterday after discovering misconduct that brought the case to a nearly day-long standstill, the Denver Post reports. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. concluded that one of the jurors had seen news reports about the case and shared details with other jurors. Samour released the other two after deciding they hadn’t been honest when questioned. Samour has repeatedly told jurors that they cannot read or listen to news reports about the case, for fear of biasing the trial’s result. “Any decision that the jurors make has to come from evidence that they received in the courtroom,” said David Beller, the president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “When they’re receiving information from outside the courtroom, the judge really doesn’t have much of a choice but to dismiss them.”
The dismissals were the first since the trial began in April, but they did not come close to forcing a do-over. Neither side moved for a mistrial as a result of the misconduct. Even with the dismissals, there remain nine alternates on the jury along with the 12 main jurors. Only the judge and attorneys know whether the released jurors were originally designated jurors or alternates. Still, the dismissals injected further tension into a case where the consequences of a mistake grow as more time is spent in court. Compounding that tension, one of the news reports the dismissed jurors discussed involved a Twitter message about the case that Samour scolded Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler from sending from the courtroom.