Alleged victim’s attorneys blast gag order in Bryant case
Attorneys for Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim leveled a blistering attack at the judge hearing the case and the gag order he issued last week.In their objection to that gag order, attorneys John Clune and Lin Wood called District Judge Terry Ruckriegle’s gag order “unconstitutional” and said it “threatens to deprive the victim as well as the prosecution of a fair trial.” That objection was filed the afternoon of Aug. 5, but was not made public until Monday afternoon.Clune and Wood demanded that the gag order be immediately rescinded, saying it sends a message to rape victims that if they come forward, “their privacy will be invaded, their reputations will be trashed, their character will be trampled.””Only the rapist’s version of events will be disseminated to the media,” they wrote. And after they finished with the judge, they called the request by Bryant’s defense attorneys for the gag order “frivilous” and “baseless.” Bryant’s defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, requested the gag order the day before Clune and Wood made a round television interviews. Ruckriegle issued the gag order the day those interviews hit the airwaves.Clune and Wood said they needed to grant those interviews after a mistake by Ruckriegle’s court clerk, Michelle Goodbee, who e-mailed transcripts of a private hearing to seven media outlets. The transcripts contained detailed testimony by a defense expert, but none by a prosecution expert.”The victim of (alleged) rape by Kobe Bryant is currently suffering enormous, outrageous prejudice by reason of errors by this court,” wrote Clune, who added that those errors resulted in the public release of testimony by Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, a paid expert for Bryant’s defense.”That testimony, contested by the victim and the prosecution … has poisoned and continues to poison the jury pool in Eagle County,” wrote Clune.Johnson testified that in her opinion, the DNA testing showed Bryant’s alleged victim had sex with someone else after the incident with Bryant and before her rape exam, a period of about 15 hours.”That devestating, one-sided account has fed a media frenzy which threatens to deprive the victim, as well as the prosecution, of a fair trial,” wrote Clune.Clune called the defense’s request for a blanket gag order an attempt to manipulate the jury pool.”The Bryant defense team wants to make sure – by silencing all participants – that this one-sided account of the events is preserved in its maximum prejudicial effect until the criminal trial begins in approximately three weeks.”Clune wrote that by identifying the alleged victim through court errors, Johnson’s testimony is “further destroying the good name and reputation of the victim.”The alleged victim’s privacy and reputation rights have been violated because of court errors, Clune wrote.”To now enter a gag order that shields the court from valid criticism and prevents the victim’s counsel from engaging in legitimate efforts to mitigate the harm to her from the release of the Johnson transcripts is not only unconstitutional, but is legally and morally unconscionable.”DA fights gag order, tooDistrict Attorney Mark Hurlbert also requested that Ruckriegle rescind his gag order, pointing out that Ruckriegle’s order was handed down the day after Bryant’s defense attorneys asked for it.”When the defense complains of statements that do not violate the court’s decorum order, this court enters an obviously unconstitutional order within a day of the request,” wrote Hurlbert in his objection, also filed Aug. 5 but not made public until Monday.Hurlbert asserted that throughout the case, Bryant’s defense attorneys have leaked information about evidence in the case, both inside and outside of court. He said prosecutors have asked for sanctions or an investigation, requests Ruckriegle “rebuffed.”Sources told the Daily that Bryant’s attorneys filed a 45-page response to objections about the gag order, and that it was filed Friday, Aug. 6, one day after the objections were due. At press time Monday, it also was not available to the public.Ruckriegle Monday ruled he would not close down the state court’s Web site where all the documents related to the Bryant case are available to the public. He also rejected a prosecution request for a 24-hour waiting period between the time documents are filed and the time they are posted on the court’s Web site.Bryant, 25, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the young woman.