“The 15-week long trial of James Holmes concluded on Friday after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision and delivered a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” denverpost.com reports. “But the conclusion of the trial acts as a major stepping stone for victims and survivors to move forward with civil lawsuits filed about thee years ago.” The judge in the civil suit has lifted the gag order prohibiting the lawyers from gathering evidence against Cinemark for failing to protect Aurora cinema goers. What didn’t Cinemark do that they should have done – short of proclaiming the cinema a “gun free zone”? Watch this space. Even more interesting: another suit field against . . .
the Colorado University psychiatrist treating Holmes. That legal action maintains that Dr. Lynne Fenton [above] should have placed the killer on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. At the least. denverpost.com reports that
On June 11, less than a month before the July 20 rampage that killed 12 and injured 70, Holmes told Fenton “that he fantasized about killing a lot of people,” according to the suit.
Fenton alerted CU’s Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team about Holmes but went no further, the suit said.
When campus police officer Lynn Whitten asked Fenton if she should apprehend Holmes and place him on a psychiatric hold, “Fenton rejected the idea,” according to the five-page lawsuit.
“Fenton was presented with the opportunity to use … reasonable care when the Colorado University police offered to apprehend James Holmes and place him on a psychiatric hold,” the suit says.
Dr. Fenton established and led the aforementioned Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team. Given the fact that Holmes wasn’t shy about confessing his murderous fantasies and his previous [known] suicide attempts, one wonders what information her team considered actionable. There is a “paper trail” out there, somewhere, which CU has withheld.
The university removed any e-mails that deal with Holmes’ mental health, the crime and any personal communication involving Holmes. A number of e-mails from Holmes’ account around June 11 — when Holmes is alleged to have made threats to a professor — were redacted.
Equally, Dr. Fenton (and Colorado University) claimed that a notebook Holmes sent Dr. Fenton describing his homicidal plans in detail – complete with hand-drawn pictures – was lost in the campus mailroom – only to be discovered, Hillary Clinton-like, the day after the attack. True story?
The burden of proof here is a high one. Successfully suing someone for failing to take an action is a lot harder than suing someone for taking an action that led to harm. Still, civil suits are a different animal from criminal prosecutions. Again, watch this space.