Everyone’s on trial here | VailDaily.com

Everyone’s on trial here

Don Rogers

The warm-ups are done. Game on. Kobe Bryant today hits the court with his future at stake. For him, it’s surreal. Sports legend, everything he wants at his beck and call, in Los Angeles. Or a considerably longer number than “8,” incarcerated somewhere or another in Colorado.The district attorney’s future as Eagle County’s lead prosecutor is on the line, too, whether or not he sets foot in Courtroom 1 during the trial. The quality of the case District Attorney Mark Hurlbert’s people put on will have a lot to say about his prospects on election day, Nov. 2. Unfair? Perhaps. But DAs must play the cards they are handed. Or live with the results others play for them.Even trial Judge Terry Ruckriegle has election day considerations at stake, since the voters this fall will decide whether he should be retained. His and the state’s court system employees have made some grievous mistakes posting Bryant’s alleged victim’s name twice on the World Wide Web, as well as twice putting private documents into public play. Apparently there are no consequences for repeated slipshod work inside this bastion of justice, even handling the biggest case of their lives.Oh, the “fun” we’ve had these past 14 months, between Sheriff Joe Hoy letting Bryant go home July 2 only to order him back for a secret arrest on Independence Day, before the district attorney could evaluate whether there was a case or not, and the prosecutors aiming to prove on the eve of the trial that DNA evidence was tainted by an independent lab that the defense hired to test it. But how to get past the Colorado Bureau of Investigation – arm of prosecutors everywhere – having one of their DNA experts on the witness list for the defense? This is Alice in Wonderland stuff.With the trial, we’ll all finally see if the prosecutors truly have a case. Opening arguments are just a jury empanelment away, and in mere weeks there will be a judgment. Assuming, of course, this strange, strange trip doesn’t take yet another wacky turn. Chances are good that you will know one or more of that jury. It really ain’t just another “reality” TV show here. Actually, in this corner, blasphemous as this may be to declare, we’re glad that the judge decided to keep the video camera out of the courtroom until closing arguments. The thing is sordid enough as it is in print. A measure of control will be a nice change, actually.At the heart of all this are the alleged victim and her family. Grand drama to millions, this is all too painfully real for them. Win or lose in court, they’ll be living with this on a quite personal level for the rest of their lives. The real-life stakes don’t get any higher than that. Bryant at least has a chance to be exonerated. D.R.Vail, Colorado

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