At a hearing today, lawyers for Aurora mass shooter James Holmes said their client is mentally ill. Many have speculated that this will pave the way for a "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense.
To what extent Holmes is mentally ill remains unclear. One of his attorneys, Daniel King, says the defense team needs more information from prosecutors and investigators.
We cannot begin to assess the nature and the depth of Mr. Holmes' mental illness until we receive full disclosure.
But the defense attorneys have also fought against releasing Holmes' case file to the public.
There is currently a motion filed by 21 media organizations petitioning to have the court records unsealed. Judge William Sylvester has not ruled on the motion, which argues that the public have a right to the information contained in case files.
This status quo violates the public's constitutional right of access to the records of criminal prosecutions and undermines our nation's firm commitment to the transparency and public accountability of the criminal justice system.
So far, little is known about Holmes' history or mental state, aside from the fact that he sought psychiatric treatment while attending the University of Colorado.
Holmes is being charged with 142 criminal counts, including 24 counts of first-degree murder for the 12 people killed in the shooting.
[Image via AP/Bill Robles]