Bryant trial should be scheduled soon |

Bryant trial should be scheduled soon

NWS Kobe DNA Expert BH 6-22 Vail Daily/Bret Hartman Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, a DNA expert, leaves the Eagle County Justice Center Tuesday after the conclusion of the Kobe Bryant pretrial hearings. Johnson was called by the defence.

The light at the end of the tunnel no longer looks like an oncoming train.With another round of pretrial hearings behind them and only a three-day July session still scheduled, a trial date in the Kobe Bryant case could be set by the end of this month.State District Court Judge ordered attorneys to submit to him by June 29 their written closing statements for the rape shield and evidence suppression arguments. “The case is in neutral until those issues are decided,” said attorney Andrew Cohen, a legal analyst for CBS.A status conference on June 30 should mop up most of the outstanding details on those remaining issues, which would clear the way for Ruckriegle to set the trial date. Attorneys for both sides said Monday they’d be ready to go by the end of August.”There are still some pieces hanging, and the judge has made it clear that when he sets a trial date he wants it to be a firm date,” said court coordinator Karen Salaz.

The 12 jurors will be drawn from the largest jury pool ever called in Eagle County. One thousand Eagle County residents will receive a jury summons, twice as many as the Chuck Garrison murder case, when 500 potential jurors were summoned.About 225 potential jurors are summoned for the average trial, Salaz said.Potential jurors will fill out at least one questionnaire, possibly two. The final jury questionnaire has 115 questions. Salaz said if all the details can be worked out, it will be mailed along with the summons. If not, potential jurors will fill out the standard 17-question form, then the longer form – either by mail or in person.Salaz said potential jurors are drawn from state income tax rolls, drivers license registrations and voter registrations. Eagle County’s adult residents stand about a one in 20 chance of receiving a jury summons for Bryant’s trial.Salaz said the summons must be sent 45 to 60 days before the final jury call. That timetable coincides with the 45 to 60 days Bryant’s defense attorney Pamela Mackey said she’d need for out-of-state subpoenas.Salaz said that while the case may seem to be creeping along at a snail’s pace, it’s about typical for a sexual assault prosecution. Attorneys talking about a quick trial would do well to load the legal system with a little less paperwork. Since the Bryant’s accuser’s attorney, John Clune, filed resolution asking for a quick trial last spring, Salaz said the court has been deluged with a total of 87 motions, responses and briefs – 41 from the prosecution and 46 from the defense.

Tuesday’s hearingTuesday’s hearings were quick and to the point, and held in private. The pretrial hearings will continue July 19-21.The issues dealt with Tuesday included:• Rape Shield: Judge Terry Ruckriegle and attorneys for both sides wrapped up the last of the rape shield testimony. Ruckriegle must still rule on the issue.As part of that hearing, defense DNA expert Dr. Elizabeth Johnson took the stand, as did prosecution DNA experts Dr. Henry Lee and Dr. Michael Baden. The defense has requested that Baden’s expert testimony not be allowed.

• The defense wants to know how much money, if any, Bryant’s alleged victim received from the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. The fund reimburses crime victims for medical expenses related to their case not covered by insurance.Still to be decided:• Evidence suppression: Bryant’s defense attorneys want Ruckriegle to throw out the physical evidence and Bryant’s tape-recorded interview, insisting Bryant was, for all practical purposes, under arrest and should have been read his Miranda rights. Prosecutors say Bryant cooperated voluntarily and the evidence should be allowed. Ruckriegle must still rule on the issue.• Rape Shield: Ruckriegle must still decide what, if anything, he’ll allow the jury to hear about the alleged victim’s sexual activity beyond the specifics directly related to this case.

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