Judge elected to withhold most court records

Updated: August 30, 2003, 2:56 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A group of news organizations will appeal a judge's decision to withhold from the public most detailed court records in the sexual assault case against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

The group will file a notice of appeal Tuesday and will follow that with briefs detailing its arguments, attorney Chris Beall confirmed Friday.

Beall has said court records can remain secret only if there is a compelling reason. He also said Bryant waived his right to privacy when he declared his innocence at a news conference hours after he was charged.

Prosecutors have said they will not appeal, and Bryant's attorneys were out of their office and unavailable for comment Friday.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ruled last week that the arrest warrant and some related documents could be released, but he withheld most of the records, saying he wanted to protect Bryant's right to a fair trial and the privacy of the woman who accused the Los Angeles Lakers guard of rape.

The arrest and search warrant affidavits, sealed since Bryant's arrest, contain statements describing graphic details of the alleged sexual encounter, medical test results, evidence that could be challenged in court and statements from potential witnesses, Gannett said.

"The judge found that the affidavits include substantial amounts of material that should not have been in the arrest warrant affidavits," Beall said. "If that's true, it may well support the contention by the defense that the investigation of Kobe Bryant has been biased."

Bryant, 25, is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old resort employee near Vail on June 30. He has said the sex was consensual. He is free on $25,000 bond.

Bryant is scheduled to return to Eagle for an Oct. 9 preliminary hearing where Gannett will determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial.

Beall represents The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, CNN, NBC and NBC affiliate KNBC of Los Angeles.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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