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Mystery of the prelim

Don Rogers

The Kobe Bryant show returns to Eagle County’s courthouse Thursday, along with a lot of scaffolding across the street and god knows how many fans ready to cheer his entrance into a court where his fate is no game.

The smart bet among lawyers and such still is that there will be no preliminary hearing, though it remains scheduled for 1 p.m. before County Court Judge Fred Gannett.

As the judge reminded in his written rulings about who may or may not testify and who may or may not attend the proceeding, a preliminary hearing is not be used as a sort of “mini-trial.”



The hearing is frankly a near formality for the County Court judge to decide whether the prosecutors have a reasonable amount of evidence to send the case on up to District Court for trial.

Since the prelim was the defense team’s choice, they have the ability to call it off, saving their client potential public relations fallout as some evidence is produced in court.



Bryant’s attorneys were unsuccessful in attempts to put the alleged victim, a 19-year-old Eagle woman who says Bryant raped her at the Lodge at Cordillera late June 30 within the hour of checking in, on the stand and subject to cross examination.

They also were not able to close the hearing to the public and press.

Why, then, go through with a hearing that will include photographs of bruises and other injuries allegedly suffered during those mysterious moments in the hotel room?



The lawyers in the cheap seats wonder aloud about this, but of course they don’t know what Bryant’s lawyers know. For all the stories and broadcasts, no one knows very much when it comes down to the nub. Judging many of the stories just by what little we at the Daily know we know, a fair share of what you think you know, well, it’s probably wrong.

That’s the first thing everyone who follows this case ought to recognize. The pool of sources is poor, from those tight-lipped folks in law enforcement to the kids more than willing to talk and say almost anything you want them to to say for their chance to be on television or in the papers.

Almost as good a bet as the one on the prelim getting cancelled is that the “legitimate” news media will strengthen standards for anonymous sourcing after lifting their own rules in the heat of summer in Eagle County, Colo.

The use of anonymous sources is a far more profound challenge for journalists than the not-so-difficult choice whether to publish the alleged victim’s name.

Meantime, we’ll see whether Bryant’s low-key legal dream team defies the conventional wisdom and presses on with the prelim.

D.R.


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