Aurora theater shooting trial: DA George Brauchler scolded over tweet

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AURORA | The judge in the Aurora theater shooting trial scolded District Attorney George Brauchler on Friday morning for sending a tweet during testimony Thursday.

The tweet, which has since been deleted, went out at 4:51 p.m. Thursday, shortly after the defense started cross examining Dr. William Reid, a psychiatrist who evaluated accused shooter James Holmes.

The defense said the tweet violated the judge’s order barring the lawyers from using social media in the courtroom, but it was also inappropriate considering the seriousness of the case.

“If the prosecution is seeking the execution of a man, perhaps the district attorney should pay attention to the cross examination of the mental health experts,” public defender Tamara Brady said.

Brauchler said the tweet was an accident and he meant it to be a text message. He called it an embarrassing mistake and apologized to the judge and personally to public defender Dan King, who was cross examining Reid when Brauchler sent the tweet.

Judge Carlos Samour Jr. opted not to punish the prosecution over the tweet, but said it was inappropriate. He said there was nothing so important that the lawyers needed to send a text or email or tweet from the court room.

“Even texts, it seems to me, is something that should wait,” he said. He said neither side is allowed to send any texts, or emails, or tweets from the courtroom.

Samour said the two sides don’t need five lawyers in court at all times, as they have had for most of the trial.

“If you are bored and don’t want to pay attention to the proceeding you can leave, you don’t need to be here,” he said.

Brauchler is active on Twitter and uses it regularly to discuss politics and share information about the DA’s office. Generally, his Twitter use has been limited to evenings after court since the trial started.

The public and media are barred from having phones in the courtroom, but lawyers for both sides have phones and — before Samour amended his order Friday to bar even texting — regularly looked at them in court.

King’s cross-examination of Reid is continuing this morning.