Judge in Colorado theater shooting case rejects defense attorneys' request to replace himself

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CENTENNIAL, Colorado — Defense attorneys in the Colorado theater shooting case have asked for a new judge, saying the current one is hostile and biased against them.

Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. denied the request Friday in a scathing order that highlights the tension between him and James Holmes' attorneys as the trial nears.

Defense attorneys wrote in their motion that Samour not only frequently rules against them but is also disparaging, using words such as "meritless," ''rehash," ''apathetic," and "lackluster" to describe their work. That "barrage of insults" shows the judge cannot be fair, defense attorneys said.

But Samour stood by his rulings and denied any bias, saying his language is blunt at times but not derogatory.

"That the undersigned is straightforward and does not mince words in his rulings is not evidence of bias," Samour wrote.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack at a Denver-area movie theater. Jury selection is expected to start in January. Samour has said he plans to summon 9,000 prospective jurors in a process that could take months. He told attorneys to be prepared for opening arguments to start in June.

Samour has recently denied several defense motions, including another request to delay the trial so Holmes' lawyers could have more time to prepare.

He wrote in Friday's order that his commitment to "unconditionally defend the dignity and honor of his Court should not be confused with the untenable allegations of misconduct" made by defense attorneys.

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