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A mass of motions

Don Rogers

The tip of the iceberg is all subpoenas and court motions, along the occasional dangerous nutcase getting arrested for trying to “help” Kobe Bryant.

Meanwhile, the basketball star prepares to pretend nothing but basketball matters now, abetted by the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, who seems to view rape charges with about as much concern as injuries. As in, Gee, sure hope this doesn’t keep him off the court.

The gamesmanship of Bryant’s lawyers is interesting. They have requested that Bryant’s accuser to be compelled to testify in the preliminary hearing Oct. 9 in Judge Fred Gannett’s courtroom. And they want the proceeding closed to the public and especially the press. Both actions would be huge suprises if the judge went along.

At a prelim, the prosecutors generally need only show a bit of their evidence to send the case to trial. Tapes of interviews with the woman and Bryant, along with photos and testimony about her injuries, should be more than enough. The alleged victim’s testimony is not needed at this stage.

And this being America, a bastion of our style of democracy is open court proceedings.

Unless the defense team has some legal dynamite to blow things up right at the prelim stage, the judge’s decision about sending Bryant to trial is just about a given.

Still, Bryant’s lawyers seem to be shaking every door and window with subpoenas for information ranging from the young woman’s medical records to when she showed up for workouts at the local health club.

The question of the moment is whether they will wind up waiving their client’s right to the preliminary hearing. They could just call it off – see you at trial.

The embarrassment to Bryant as prosecutors make some evidence supporting the accusations known could serve as reason to drop the prelim if they don’t get their way with the requests to close it to the public or have the woman testify.

A reason for staying with the hearing would be to force the prosecution to play its hand, at least a little. The defense could pick up clues about the district attorney’s approach to the case by seeing the prosecutors in action in the preliminary hearing.

And then there’s the aspect of making the prosecutors work at every step, raising the odds that they’ll make a mistake.

If they watched the recent Denson murder case, surely they noticed that the prosecutors missed a key deadline for using evidence of the accused waving a gun and otherwise threatening rafters well before her fatal encounter with her estranged boyfriend. Jurors who didn’t understand the case as presented might have if the DA’s office had been more thorough.


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