Prosecutors not fighting judge's order

Updated: August 28, 2003, 10:39 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Prosecutors in the sexual assault case against Kobe Bryant said Thursday they will not appeal a judge's order to release some of the sealed court records.

The documents slated for release will not threaten Bryant's right to a fair trial or the privacy rights of the woman who has accused the NBA superstar of rape, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said.

Last week, Judge Frederick Gannett ruled the arrest warrant and related documents could be released to the public. More detailed documents, including the arrest affidavit and search warrant, were to remain sealed. Gannett put his order on hold and gave attorneys 10 days to appeal.

Chris Beall, an attorney representing media organizations seeking the release of all the records, said his clients will decide by the Tuesday deadline whether to appeal.

Bryant's attorneys did not immediately return a call for comment.

The documents Gannett said could be released are likely to reveal little that is not publicly known about the case, legal experts say.

Beall has said that without a look at the other documents, the public has no way of knowing whether the sheriff's office acted properly in arresting Bryant.

Among those documents the judge said will remain sealed are those containing "factual statements describing graphic details of the alleged sexual encounter," medical test results, evidence that can be challenged in court and the statements of potential witnesses.

Bryant has said his 19-year-old accuser had consensual sex with him June 30 at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, where she worked and he was a guest. Bryant, who is free on $25,000 bond, is scheduled to return to Eagle for an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing, when Gannett will determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Gannett on Thursday granted a request from news organizations to place cameras in a hallway outside the courtroom during the preliminary hearing. He hasn't ruled on a request to allow cameras inside the courtroom.

Steven Zansberg, an attorney working with Beall, said Thursday he has asked the judge to set a time frame for any court filings seeking to close the preliminary hearing. He wants the judge to allow such requests only up to 30 days before the hearing to allow adequate time for arguments.

Zansberg said Colorado law allows closure of a preliminary hearing in cases including felony sexual assault, but he believes it hasn't been used since the state Supreme Court set standards for closure in 1979.

Zansberg would not say whether he expected defense attorneys to ask Gannett to close the hearing.

Many court documents in the case have been sealed since Bryant, 25, was arrested July 4. Among those Gannett said will remain sealed are those that contain "factual statements describing graphic details of the alleged sexual encounter," medical test results, evidence that can be challenged in court and the statements of potential witnesses.

The public release of such information could threaten Bryant's right to a fair trial, and subject the woman to ``further intimidation, harassment and abuse,'' Gannett said.

The media organizations seeking the documents include NBC, CNN, The Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Vail Daily newspaper.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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