Bryant returns to Eagle today for more hearings
The gang’s all here – again.
“With the Mexican Mafia reputedly coming to town, gangs may be an accurate description,” said local attorney Rohn Robbins, referring to the latest round of death threats that came to light last week.
Kobe Bryant and company are back in Eagle today and tomorrow for another round of motions hearings. Attorneys for both the defense and prosecution will cross swords over what information the other side will have access to, and what will be admitted as evidence during Bryant’s trial.
How District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle rules could go a long way in a jury determining Bryant’s guilt or innocence.
The most dramatic developments will occur behind closed doors, including the first court appearance by Bryant’s alleged victim. She’s scheduled to testify Tuesday as Bryant’s attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, continue the uphill fight to gain access to Bryant’s alleged victim’s medical records and have her sexual history surrounding the June 30 incident made part of the evidence the jury will hear.
They’ll also argue to have Colorado’s rape shield law struck down as unconstitutional.
The media will be excluded from most of what’s going on, and certainly excluded from anything that, in the eyes of the consuming public, can be considered entertaining,” said Robbins.
Robbins said Bryant’s attorneys’ efforts might be the legal equivalent of the 10th Mountain Division’s assault on Riva Ridge.
“They face formidable obstacles,” said Robbins. “Medical privilege is normally considered as sacrosanct under the law as attorney/client privilege, or the privilege between a priest and a parishoner.”
Robbins said state’s rape shield law and privacy of medical records have been challenged in every conceivable way, and they’ve withstood the tests. He said Ruckriegle will give a full hearing to all sides and listen to all reasonable arguments presented before making his ruling, but he doesn’t like their odds for success.
“I frankly don’t think they’re going to get any of this,” said Robbins. “But they must ask. They’d be negligent if they didn’t. They are obligated to provide the most spirited defense they can present.
“And who knows, there may be some information out there that will convince the judge to rule in their favor.”
Robbins explained that Colorado’s rape shield law is couched on a background of relevance. After hearing arguments and testimony, Ruckriegle must decide if the probative value is outweighed by the prejudicial effect the information could have on a jury.
That means that even if, as Mackey and Haddon have asserted, the alleged victim did have sex with multiple partners in the days surrounding the incident, it may not make a difference to Ruckriegle as he makes his ruling.
“Does that mean this defendant did not rape her? It does not,” said Robbins.
This week’s hearings come in the wake of another man landing in jail for making death threats against people involved with the case. Federal authorities arrested Cedric Augustine, 37, of Long Beach, Calif., for threatening to kill District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and his family, the alleged victim and her family, witness Bob Pietrack and anyone else involved with prosecuting the case. During his telephoned threats to the district attorney’s office and the combined courts office, Augustine claimed to be a member of the Mexican Mafia, that they were 900 strong, that they were on their way to Colorado and that they were going to blow up the Eagle County courthouse.
“I expect local authorities will take extraordinary measures to protect her (the alleged victim),” said Robbins. “These death threats must be taken seriously.”
Bryant, 25, is charged with one count of felony sexual assault in connection with a June 30 incident at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. The alleged victim said she was raped. Bryant said the sex was consensual.
What they’ll battle over
– Whether evidence collected by sheriff’s investigators should be thrown out. Defense attorneys say it was illegally collected. Prosecutors disagree.
– Whether the alleged victim gave up her right to privacy about her medical records.
– Whether more of the proceedings should be kept private.
– Whether Colorado’s rape shield law should be declared unconstitutional, as asserted by defense attorneys.
– Whether the alleged victim’s sexual history in the days surrounding the June 30 incident should be admitted during the trial. Bryant’s defense attorneys ask that it is. Prosecutors disagree.