The trail to trial
Kobe Bryant scheduled to appear at 4 p.m. in the Eagle County Courthouse for the advisement of his rights. So far, that’s the only firm date so far.
– Preliminary hearing in County Court: The district attorney must show probable cause for proceeding. If probable cause is found, the case will be bound over to the higher District Court.
– District Court: At his first appearance in District Court, usually a couple of months after his County Court prelim, Bryant would be re-advised of his rights and charges. That’s when a plea is entered.
– Motions hearings: Attorneys for both sides will make myriad motions regarding evidence and procedures. Among them could be a request to dismiss the case, a plea bargain or for a change in venue.
Today’s Kobe Bryant court appearance is bound to be the biggest non-event since Y2K.
Almost 30 television trucks and scores of print journalists are all breathlessly focused on the Los Angeles Lakers’ star’s 4 p.m. appearance today.
Bryant will likely say nothing, and his attorneys probably won’t say much more.
During today’s advisement in Eagle County Court before Judge Fred Gannett, Bryant will be read his rights and the charges against him.
Bryant’s attorneys, Hal Haddon and Pamela Mackey, requested that Bryant be allowed to skip today’s advisement, a request Gannett rejected. They also asked that there be no cameras in the courtroom, a request Gannett also rejected.
According to Colorado law, Haddon and Mackey may ask Gannett for a preliminary hearing in County Court or they may ask that Bryant’s case be bound over to directly to District Court without a preliminary hearing. If they ask for a preliminary hearing, it must be scheduled within 30 days, unless defense attorneys waive that right and ask for more time to prepare.
At a preliminary hearing, which would happen before Gannett in Eagle County Court, prosecutors would present evidence in an effort to convince Gannett to send the case on to District Court and an eventual trial.
“The defense attorneys could waive the preliminary hearing, so some of the details of the evidence that they consider damaging or embarrassing aren’t made public before the trial,” said local defense attorney Bruce Carey.
Bryant is charged with Class 3 felony sexual assault, and as felonies go, it’s serious. If convicted, Bryant could face between 20 years probation and life in prison.
At Bryant’s first appearance in District Court, he will enter a plea and the case moves into the motions phase, in which defense attorneys will file motions protesting everything about the case, and prosecutors will file motions supporting it.
During this period, attorneys on both sides will exchange information. Both sides get a look at all the evidence, including police reports, interviews, and all the physical evidence. If there’s going to be a plea bargain, it will happen during this phase, said Colorado Mountain News Media attorney Rohn Robbins.
The defense will ask for physical evidence, and it could be much more
than fluids. Class 3 felony sexual assault is sexual assault with violence or the threat of violence. In essence, the charge is forcible rape. Defense attorneys would be looking for anything that indicates a struggle, said Robbins.
Between Bryant’s first District Court appearance and the trial, the judge can schedule pretrial conferences, motions hearings and status hearings, to check on how things are going.
In high-profile cases like this one, the motions hearings may be open to
try to engender support from the media.
After that, they go to trial.
In Colorado, a defendant’s right to a speedy trial will put him in court
within six months of the date he enters his plea. Robbins said Bryant’s attorneys can waive the right to a speedy trial, which he said they could do if they wanted to slow the momentum of the case.