No surprises in Kobe Bryant ruling |

No surprises in Kobe Bryant ruling

Don Rogers

Kobe Bryant’s lawyers got everything they expected and nothing of what they wanted Thursday from Judge Fred Gannett.

No, the alleged victim will not be forced to testify in the preliminary hearing next week.

No, the hearing will not be closed to the public and press.

No, the hearing will not be contained entirely to the one small courtroom. An audio feed to an overflow room of journalists will be permitted.

No, the defense team will not gain access to the alleged victim’s medical records, at least not until the case moves on to the higher District Court for trial.

Nope, no surprises here.

This being legal land, there’s a sea of caveats, of course. The judge has scheduled a couple of private conferences with the attorneys next week and could yet close portions of the hearing to the public when certain incriminating evidence is shown. It seems faintly silly in that all the attorneys and the judge already know what the evidence is.

The standard of proof needed to move the case along to District Court for trial is so low that the judge’s decision at the end of the hearing is just about a formality. The defense would need some powerful legal dynamite indeed to blow up the case here.

The smart money among the legal community has been that there won’t be a preliminary hearing. The defense requested the hearing, and the defense can call it off.

Now that they struck out with their rather extraordinary requests – no case in memory has closed a prelim or compelled the alleged victim to testify at this stage – the bets are on when Bryant’s attorneys will drop their request for the hearing. That could come as late as 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, when the event begins. Bryant must appear regardless, so we’ll at least have a repeat of the walk from SUV to courthouse for adoring fans and nationwide cable TV audience.

On deck should be the dance to get the trial delayed until deep into summer. Kid’s gotta play the season after all, right? Priorities, you know.

And the big bid for a change of venue can’t be too far off. Whatever arguments the defense team posts, worries about a jury with a natural background sympathy for one of the community’s own in Eagle will be the prime motivator to try to move the trial to another town.

Could a fair jury be found in Eagle County? Sure. The populace is among the best educated in the country, not particularly wowed by celebrities, and too thoughtful to be guided by some sort of blind loyalty to a neighbor. Could a fairer jury pool be found? That’s the real question.

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