Bryant defense spares no expense |

Bryant defense spares no expense

Vail Daily/ Melinda Kruse

Kobe Bryant is pouring a mountain of money into his defense, which is exactly what attorneys say he should do.

“If someone is accused of something for the first time in their life, they don’t care what it costs,” said local attorney Rohn Robbins “They’ll sell automobiles, mortgage their home, go into deep debt. They want this handled.”

Some attorneys have said it’s unusual for any district attorney’s office to be outspent by a criminal defendant. Not necessarily so, especially in an affluent area like Eagle County, said Robbins.

“To spend that amount and spend more than the DA spends is not all that unusual,” said Robbins. “Someone with quieter money may have come before the court, but I’ll venture a guess that this isn’t the first time someone with this much money has come before the court.”

In the legal world, paperwork is expensive, and Bryant’s attorneys have set loose an avalanche of it. They’ve asked a judge to require Bryant’s 19-year-old accuser to testify at a preliminary hearing. Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon are demanding her records from an Eagle medical clinic, two hospitals and a university she attended in February when she was treated for mental health problems.

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Beyond examining everything they can about the alleged victim, they also have hired the Boulder-based Talmey/Drake research firm to poll the pool of potential jurors in Eagle County, looking for biases they could bring up in a possible request to move the trial.

“It’s aggressive, it’s hard, it’s tough, it’s hardball, but it’s exactly what they should be doing,” said Lawrence Goldman, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Bryant, 25, is charged with felony sexual assault. He is accused of raping a 19-year-old Eagle woman June 30 in his suite at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. She was a worker there, and Bryant was a guest.

Free on $25,000 bond, the Los Angeles Lakers guard is scheduled to return to Eagle Oct. 9 for a preliminary hearing in which Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett will decide if there is enough evidence to hold him for trial.

Gannett is expected to rule Thursday on a variety of motions connected with the case. Among those is the defense request that Bryant’s alleged victim be required to testify at the preliminary hearing.

“Will the alleged victim be required to testify at the preliminary hearing? Not a prayer,” asserted Robbins.

So far, Judge Gannett has made a point of trying to protect Bryant’s alleged victim, and to protect to both her and Bryant’s rights to a fair trial. Analysts said it’s unusual for an alleged victim to be forced to testify at a preliminary hearing, at which the standard of proof needed to move the case to District Court is relatively low.

“They don’t want to subject her to cross-examination if they don’t have to,” said Dan Recht, past president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “In part because it’s a traumatic experience and in part because it’s strategic. They don’t want to subject their star witness to cross-examination before the trial.”

At Bryant’s preliminary hearing, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert will present evidence and witnesses that he hopes will persuade Gannett to rule that Bryant might have committed the crime. If Hurlbert is successful, Gannett would order a trial in District Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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