Why DA can’t back out now | VailDaily.com

Why DA can’t back out now

Don Rogers

Kobe Bryant is back in town today. Who knows if this visit is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?This should be the last of the pretrial hearings before the main event starting Aug. 27. But hearing the lawyers providing the sidelines color commentary on the rape case, the alleged victim and the prosecution appear to be angling for an escape from a criminal trial.The nation – at least an element of the nation – watches with bated breath. The local community has better things to be concerned about. For one, school starts this week.The biggest mystery going now isn’t whether the NBA star and all-around cad committed a crime while cheating on his wife within the hour of checking in last summer to the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, no sir. The big question is whether there will be a trial at all.If timing is anything, you have to wonder about the events of the past couple of weeks. After the young woman’s own lawyers went on TV to twist her image from a wronged girl resolutely seeking justice to just one of just another hustle for the big bucks, well, they followed through by filing their lawsuit against Bryant in federal court. Before the criminal case had even gone to trial. Doing so only gave the defense more ammunition in the criminal case. Her father finally took his opportunity to tell the judge exactly what he thinks of the handling of this case, in light of various employee errors and his impressions of collegiality between Judge Terry Ruckriegle and Hal Haddon, one of the defense lawyers. His timing also was curious, though certainly fathers of daughters everywhere can understand his frustration. The prosecutors put on a brave face about seemingly becoming pawns in a larger contest between the woman’s private attorneys and Bryant’s lawyers. So far, other than filing some motions that sound like possible excuses if they were to drop the case soon, they say they are determined to forge ahead. I hope so. The real travesty for the taxpaying “People” they truly are supposed to represent would be for them not to have a compelling case to present after all this.The judge doesn’t seem to have much of a handle on the First Amendment. But other than that, his rulings thus far have fallen in line with common sense. The woman’s general sexual history and medical records dealing with mental health issues will not be admissible in the trial. Physical evidence of sexual activity in the 72 hours before her rape exam can be presented as part of the defense claims that her injuries could have come from a partner other than Bryant and whether she has been truthful asserting that she was not intimate with anyone after her encounter with Bryant. The prosecutors’ case would be based on a profound lie if that were not presented for the jury to consider – along with the prosecution’s answer to these suggestions.District Attorney’s Office has appealed the 72-hour ruling to the state Supreme Court, and maybe the prosecutors will get lucky. But if the prosecution does not have a strong answer to rebut the defense theory, the case never should have come forward. The problem for them would be dismissing the case if the Supreme Court backed the trial judge’s ruling.Whining about the release of edited transcripts of admissible testimony, defense team tactics or even the sudden loss of the accuser’s cooperation won’t fly if the prosecutors duck in the end. If they have a case, they need to present it. Not for the young woman’s sake, but for the public’s. If it can be proven that Bryant raped her, then it’s in society’s interest to be protected from a sexual predator.If the prosecutors can’t answer the 72-hour questions – which, sorry, are reasonable – then they never had a case and they wasted a lot of time and energy.In any case, the bottom line is this: No excuses.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.com

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