Prosecutors remain confident in Bryant case
Attorneys prosecuting Kobe Bryant on rape allegations still have confidence in their case and are still moving forward, a District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said Thursday.”Prosecutors are bound by a code of conduct to move forward only with cases in which they have confidence,” said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan. “We’re moving forward.”That comes on the heels of statements by the alleged victim’s two attorneys, John Clune and Lin Wood, who said the prosecution’s case had been badly damaged by two mistakes from the court in the past few weeks – posting the young woman’s name on the court’s Web site in a document that was supposed to be sealed, and accidentally e-mailing transcripts of a closed rape shield hearing to seven media outlets. Edited versions of those transcripts were eventually released, under pressure from the U.S. Supreme Court, and widely published. Clune and Wood said Wednesday their client, 20, would have to huddle with prosecutors and decide if she wanted to continue with the criminal case against Bryant, or pursue the matter in civil court, where they said the field would be more level.Flannigan said that under the Colorado’s Victims Rights Amendment, the alleged victim would be consulted about whether or not she wanted to go forward with her part of the case.But the victim does not have the final word. The final decision about whether or not to take the case to trial belongs only to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.”Any victim has the right to be heard,” said Flannigan. “But ultimately it’s the district attorney who makes that decision.”Flannigan said the case is not exactly the same as when they started, July 18, 2003, when Hurlbert charged Bryant with one count of felony sexual assault. Flannigan said the ongoing investigation created a few changes in their case, but prosecutors remain confident. Clune’s and Wood’s statements Wednesday set off a firestorm of speculation among media covering the case that prosecutors would drop it or that a plea bargain was near. The most stressful part of the day for the District Attorney’s Office stemmed from a rumored press conference. Apparently, journalists began asking one another what they’d heard about a 1 p.m. press conference. Eventually, they began asking the district attorney’s staff, showing up at the DA’s window and calling on the phone, only to learn that there was no press conference, and none was planned.”Almost every call was about that,” said Flannigan. “It was very challenging for the hardworking staff to get their work done. It was very stressful.”The same day Clune and Wood appeared on NBC’s “Abrams Report” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, who is presiding over the case, slapped a complete gag order on everyone directly involved. Bryant’s defense attorneys, Harold Haddon and Pamela Mackey, asked for the gag order Tuesday afternoon. Ruckriegle said he was “seriously concerned” public comments were threatening the chances of a fair trial for both Bryant and the alleged victim.”I feel it’s absolutely abhorrent that so many people have written her off or prejudged this case without having heard her side of the story from her own mouth,” said former Denver District Attorney Norm Early. “That has to be a tremendous blow and terribly disheartening.”Early said the young woman has been treated “very shabbily” by the criminal justice system and that she’s the only one who knows when enough is enough.”Her life has been threatened, she’s moved from state to state to state, she’s been unable to keep a job because defense investigators and media continue to find her, her name and those transcripts have been released,” said Early. “She probably knew this was going to be a tough ride, but had no idea it would be as bad as it has gotten. “It’s just further confirmation that we do not treat victims very well in this criminal justice system.”Ruckriegle apologized in open court for the accidental release of sealed documents. He has also ruled the woman’s sex life in the 72 hours before her July 1, 2003 rape exam can be used as evidence.Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman, then 19, at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, where she worked last summer. Bryant faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted.Reporter’s NotebookNotes, quotes and antidotes from this week’s Kobe Chronicles.GaggedJudge Terry Ruckriegle Wednesday upgraded the rhetorical terror alert from yellow to orange, when he hammered everyone with a gag order. Basically, the judge opined that enough was enough and sent everyone to rhetorical time-out in a neutral corner, ordering them to stay there until the swelling went down. For the most part, everyone played nice on Gag Day, and almost no one ran with scissors – at least not scissors pointed at anyone else. However, a couple of the attorneys were giggling and positively aglow as they changed their voice mails to say they were no longer allowed to talk to reporters.Lock and unloadEvery week or so the District Attorney’s Office staff has a staff meeting, presumably to discuss staff stuff. When they do, they lock the doors, draw the blinds and don’t answer the phones. If they’re continually interrupted the meetings take too long and the way you can tell a really great professional is that they hate meetings and want them over as quickly as possible. This week’s closed-door meeting sent hyperventilating reporters scrambling for their phones. For the most part, they called District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Krista Flannigan, demanding an explanation before anyone else found out. Flannigan, who’s a mom and understands these sorts of sibling rivalries, gently explained that the locked doors were not a vast conspiracy by the right and/or left wings. The nice folks were just trying to get a little peace.Shoot and hootThis just in, or else we just found out about it. About a year ago, just prior to Bryant’s first court appearance on Aug. 6, 2003, a call went out to Eagle County’s fix-it guys that some lights were out at the Eagle County courthouse, and could they possibly be repaired in the extremely near future, since a whole bunch of company was coming. One of the fix-it guys climbed on top of the courthouse building and was in the process of illumination and enlightenment when a sheriff’s deputy walked out the front door, unholstered his sidearm, pointed it at Mr. Fix-It and offered to turn out Mr. Fix-It’s personal lights if he didn’t come down at that exact moment, which he did.But like the true professional he is, Mr. Fix-It fixed the lights. The deputy who went Barney Fife on the guy was lectured severely.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615 or email@example.com and is a writer based in Vail, Colorado.