News media want transcripts unsealed |

News media want transcripts unsealed

Cliff Thompson

EAGLE – News organizations Thursday asked the court to release sealed transcripts of interviews between Kobe Bryant and Eagle County sheriff’s investigators. The questioning occurred last summer after an incident at a hotel in which an Eagle County woman accuses him of rape. The issue of the public’s right to information in government files that is guaranteed by the First Amendment was protested by Bryant’s defense team, which said the request infringed on Bryant’s ability to receive a fair trial – as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment.”None of the pleadings should be unsealed,” wrote Harold Haddon, one of Bryant’s attorneys, referring to the interviews and other information that has not been made public. “There is nothing in any of the sealed pleadings that require their disclosure on the eve of a month-long trial in which a person’s life is at stake.”But the media, including the Vail Daily, contend that the information would not infringe on Bryant’s ability to have a fair trial if made public. “In order for the public to understand and appreciate the court’s ruling on that constitutional issue, as well as for the public to make its own constitutionally authorized determination as to the propriety of the court’s ruling, the public must have access to the statements that the court has deemed to be voluntary and non custodial,” wrote attorney Thomas Kelley. “Moreover,” Kelly continued, “under the circumstances of this case, where the defendant’s attorneys have skillfully primed the pump of public opinion by asserting various particularly defamatory and disparaging allegations about the alleged victim through public court filings and statements in open court – indeed in several instances, including details that the court has now ruled are inadmissible – it is both ironic and disingenuous for Mr. Bryant to now complain about some speculative, marginal impact the public release of comments he made to police voluntarily.” The media organizations claim Bryant’s defense team has not established that the release of information would in fact harm Bryant’s right to a fair trial and that the public is entitled to the same information the judge used in making its decision.The media’s request for information did not include the portion of the interview with detectives that occurred after Bryant was informed there was a warrant for his arrest.That information was ordered sealed July 2, 2003. Judge Ruckriegle has not yet scheduled the matter for resolution.Cliff Thompson can be reached at cthompson@vaildaily.comVail Colorado

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