Bryant prelim still a go, so far
A status conference conference in the morning with Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett did not end with Bryant’s defense attorneys waiving the preliminary hearing.
At least not yet.
“Tuesday morning was a procedural meeting to determine how they’re going to proceed Thursday,” said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan.
Speculation has run rampant that Bryant’s defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon, would waive Thursday’s preliminary hearing, perhaps as early as Tuesday, opting to go straight to trial.
Attorneys have said repeatedly that Bryant’s defense attorneys stand to gain nothing from a preliminary hearing, since they already have all the same evidence the prosecution has, as is required by the rules of the justice system.
“I’d be surprised if he shows up,” said local attorney Rohn Robbins. “The only advantage I can imagine is for them to present the image of him stepping up to face his charges like a man.
“Maybe they also held out some unrealistic hope that the alleged victim would be forced to testify or that they would get a shot at her and show her to be problematic or unstable.”
Gannett also scheduled a conference for 12:15 p.m. Thursday, just 45 minutes before Bryant’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin. That conference will finalize any procedural matters.
It’s also at that conference when Mackey and Haddon will make their final decision whether or not to waive the preliminary hearing.
“They have until the preliminary hearing begins at 1 o’clock to exercise that option,” said Flannigan.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to take a half a day.
Robbins said the suspense surrounding the event has given Bryant’s attorneys a forum to potentially influence public opinion. By staying in it until the eleventh hour, Robbins said, they may be trying to maximize that influence.
“Still, I cannot imagine there being any advantage to them actually going through with the preliminary hearing,” he said.
The preliminary hearing is shaping up to be the same sort of media circus as Bryant’s advisement Aug. 6, with the media gathered days ahead of time in anticipation.
“From a political point of view, I’d be sensitive to the gathered press and what they went through to be here,” said Robbins. “If the defense waits until the eleventh hour, it’s possible they could minutely slant the press unconsciously against them.
“If they were going to waive it, I would do it with some courtesy toward the media, simply to try to have them on my side.”
After hearing the evidence at the preliminary hearing, Gannett will rule whether there is probable cause to send Bryant’s case to District Court for trial. It’s possible, but not likely, that Bryant’s first hearing in District Court could also come Thursday.
It’s possible that the defense could waive the preliminary hearing, then walk up the hall to District Judge Tom Moorhead’s court for Bryant’s arraignment. It’s during that first hearing in District Court, at Bryant’s arraignment, that he will enter a plea.
Moorhead will be in Eagle on Thursday, but Flannigan said he already has a full docket of cases.
Flannigan said that’s possible he could hear Bryant’s arraignment Thursday, but highly unlikely.
“Judge Moorhead has regular arraignment days, and he already has a full day of cases,” said Flannigan. “It’s not likely he’ll be hearing anything additional.”
Bryant, 25, is charged with one count of felony sexual assault. He is charged with raping a 19-year-old Eagle woman June 30 at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where she was a worker and he was a guest.