Ban courtroom cameras in Bryant case, attorneys ask
Kobe Bryant’s alleged victim and prosecutors asked Wednesday that no cameras be allowed in the courtroom when the trial starts next month.”Mass television coverage of this case would further victimize this 20 year old, this young woman, and continue to deter other rape victims from reporting criminal conduct,” wrote her attorney John Clune.Clune and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert asked state District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle to reject media requests to allow cameras in the courtroom during the trial, saying it could threaten the safety and violate the privacy of the alleged victim and witnesses.In a request made public Wednesday, Clune wrote that “the victim and other witnesses will be required to testify regarding extremely sensitive and at times offensive and degrading behavior.”
He pointed out that under Colorado law, crime victims have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. He said there is “no means” by which the court can allow cameras in the courtroom and protect the alleged victim’s rights.Hurlbert said cameras can affect attorneys, judges and witnesses in the search for the truth, and detract from the “dignity of the process by making the trial a show rather than a serious proceeding.””To put the faces of the victim and witnesses on the evening news night after night could turn them into unwilling celebrities and potential targets,” Hurlbert said.Hurlbert wrote that while Colorado law allows expanded media coverage, at the judge’s discretion, he disagreed with Court TV’s assertion that the Colorado Supreme Court “encourages” cameras in the courtroom.Hurlbert also wrote that banning cameras in the courtroom would decrease media coverage, “and significantly improve the chances of a fair and impartial jury being selected in Eagle County.”
Bryant’s defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, have not yet taken a position on cameras in the courtroom.Ruckriegle has not yet ruled on the issue.In a related matter, the media Wednesday asked the Colorado Supreme Court to allow publication of private hearing details accidentally released.The transcript details parts of a two-day hearing, June 21-22, that were accidentally e-mailed by a court reporter to seven news organizations. Ruckriegle said anyone who publishes those details could be cited for contempt. Ruckriegle argued that privacy concerns for the alleged victim and Bryant’s right to a fair trial should supersede the media’s First Amendment rights and that the court order did not amount to unconstitutional prior restraint of a free press. Media attorney Tom Kelley disagreed.
Portions that were closed dealt primarily with arguments about the accuser’s sexual activity in the days surrounding her encounter with Bryant last summer, and money given her by a victims’ compensation program, which can be used to cover medical expenses related to the incident but not covered by insurance.Media organizations involved in the court challenge are the Associated Press, Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times, CBS, Fox News, ESPN and the television show “Celebrity Justice.”Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault, saying he had consensual sex with the woman, now 20, in his hotel room in June 2003. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.