Judge upholds rape shield law | VailDaily.com
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Judge upholds rape shield law

JON SARCHE
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant has his shot blocked by Detroit Pistons' Darvin Ham (8) during the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Sunday, June 6, 2004, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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A judge rejected an attempt by Kobe Bryant’s attorneys to have Colorado’s rape shield law declared unconstitutional on Thursday, calling their legal argument irrelevant because the NBA star’s sexual past won’t be an issue at his rape trial.Defense attorney Hal Haddon had argued the law, when applied in combination with another statute, violated Bryant’s rights by treating him differently than the alleged victim.Haddon contended a defendant’s sexual history is presumed to be relevant and admissible at trial while an alleged victim’s past is not.

“These standards are blatantly inconsistent and unfair,” he said during a hearing last month. “Both laws should fall. All witnesses should be on equal footing.”The rape shield law, which has withstood challenges since it was enacted in the mid 1970s, generally bars defense attorneys from using information about the sexual history of alleged assault victims, unless a judge determines it is relevant. Similar laws are in place in every state.State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said Haddon’s argument was irrelevant because prosecutors have indicated they do not intend to bring up Bryant’s sexual history in court.He also noted numerous witnesses have testified behind closed doors about the consensual sexual activities of the 19-year-old accuser before her encounter with Bryant last summer, ensuring the defense a chance to introduce that information as evidence.

“This case presents a factual situation wherein the rape shield statute can be applied to the defendant in a constitutionally permissible manner,” Ruckriegle said.Haddon did not return a call for comment.Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. The Los Angeles Lakers star, now playing in the NBA finals, has said he had consensual sex with the employee of the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where he stayed June 30. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.District Attorney Mark Hurlbert had argued the rape shield law is necessary to protect alleged victims’ privacy.



“Rape shield prevents embarrassing and unnecessary fishing expeditions,” he said during the hearing. “It doesn’t say that any past sexual history of the victim is out … it just provides a procedure for the defendant to say how it’s relevant.”Cynthia Stone, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the group did not believe Ruckriegle would overturn the law.”We feel, and it’s evidenced by how many times this law has been upheld, that it’s a fair and balanced law,” she said. “It does help protect the privacy of the victim, but at the same time it does preserve the rights of the defendant.”Also Thursday, a court document revealed that the defense is trying to exclude testimony from Michael Baden, an expert witness for the prosecution who is expected to discuss injuries including a small bruise found by a nurse on the alleged victim’s jaw. The defense’s actual request was filed under seal.Baden, who has testified in numerous criminal trials, is a former New York City medical examiner who has worked on cases including the slayings of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey and Nicole Brown Simpson.


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