More details will be unsealed in Bryant case
EAGLE – More documents will be released from Kobe Bryant’s abandoned criminal case, but a judge Friday could not say exactly when.District Judge Terry Ruckriegle ruled Friday morning that 59 more documents will be made available to the public and the media. He did not say whether they’d be released all at once, or over time as they become available. All criminal charges against Bryant Sept. 1 when the young woman accusing him of sexual assault told prosecutors she wouldn’t testify. Those documents must be edited to remove the young woman’s name and the information that Colorado law does not allow to be distributed through public documents, he said. Media attorneys asked for an additional 59 documents. Chris Beall, representing seven media outlets, including the Vail Daily and its parent company, Colorado Mountain News Media, argued that while some of the information has already been leaked, much has not and the public should have access to the documents to create a “balanced record.” Among the documents requested are reports relating to Bryant’s statements to Eagle County Sheriff’s detectives.”Most of the public I’ve heard from has heard enough about it,” joked Ruckriegle.
Bryant’s lead criminal defense attorney, Pamela Mackey, was joined in Ruckriegle’s courtroom Friday morning by Saskia Jordan, a civil attorney in Mackey’s firm who’s handling the young woman’s civil case against Bryant as it works its way through the federal courts in Denver.Mackey asked Ruckriegle to release everything related to the case, not just what the media requested. She asked for an “all-or-nothing” ruling and said if Ruckriegle released everything, that would be fine with her.”We don’t want to engage in that fight any more,” said Mackey. “Make it all available to the public, or none.”The last piece of the informational puzzle they wanted control over – Bryant’s recorded statements to sheriff’s investigators – was leaked to the Vail Daily, Mackey said. Other Bryant statements, not tape recorded, were leaked to the media prior to the trial date, she said.”We still maintain that we would have received a fair trial from a fair and impartial jury in this county,” she said. “Our concern is equity and fairness. We would prefer to have the entire pleading made public.”Beall argued that because the criminal charges have been dismissed, and there will be no trial, concerns about a fair trial for Bryant and his alleged victim are moot. But Ruckriegle said he is prohibited by law from releasing everything.The prosecution’s documents, released last Friday, were 666 pages after attorneys finished editing, eliminating and redacting, Mackey said. District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said they started with approximately 4,000 pages.Mackey asserted Friday that while prosecutors say they withheld personal and sensitive information, that’s “belied by the sheer volume of information withheld.”
The alleged victim’s attorney, John Clune, called Mackey’s arguments “disingenuous,” saying that only two of Bryant’s statements to detectives were withheld, while information withheld about his client includes hearing transcripts about her sexual history, mental health history and alleged drug and alcohol use.”For the defense to say they want everything out there to be equitable is quite disingenuous,” said Clune.Mackey returned fire when she returned to the podium.”There seems to be an inference that any release of information is done to embarrass the complaining witness,” said Mackey, who said that’s not the case.The information will help the public determine the credibility of the “complaining witness,” the relative strength and weakness of the prosecution’s case, and why prosecutors moved to dismiss the case two-and-a-half days into jury selection, Mackey said. The prosecution documents were released two weeks after the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office released 355 pages of redacted and edited documents. The case has now generated almost 900 filings of various sorts.Prosecutor Dana Easter said the information will not be ready before next month’s Nov. 2 election, as requested by the media, because only she and prosecutor Gregg Crittenden are working on redacting the documents, and they’re doing it on nights and weekends. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who oversaw the prosecution, is facing a challenge from defense lawyer Bruce Brown to keep his job. “It’s a lengthy and painstaking process,” said Easter. “Several pairs of eyes are needed to review one document.”
Bryant, 26, was accused of raping a young Eagle woman June 30, 2003 in his hotel suite at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. Before the criminal case was dropped, the young woman, now 20, sued Bryant in civil court, asking for an unspecified amount of money. That case is still pending.What’s new• 29 documents filed under seal during the criminal case, relating both to Bryant and his accuser. • 21 filings related to those documents.• 9 witness lists.Staff writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado
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