Judge says cameras violate Colorado code

Updated: September 9, 2003, 8:58 PM ET
Associated Press

EAGLE, Colo. -- Cameras will be banned from the courtroom during the preliminary hearing in Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case.

Court rules specifically prohibit cameras at pretrial hearings in criminal cases except for initial advisements and arraignments, Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett said Monday.

Court TV, The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News had requested permission for cameras in the courtroom during the Oct. 9 hearing.

Bryant is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman June 30 in his suite at a mountain resort where she worked and he was a guest.

Later Monday, prosecutors asked a judge not to release the accuser's medical records to the defense team, saying they could be used in an attempt to destroy the woman's credibility during Bryant's preliminary hearing.

In a court filing, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said the woman hasn't waived her medical privacy rights except in the case of records of an examination the day after the alleged attack.

Bryant's attorneys have asked for the woman's records from a clinic in Eagle, a hospital in Greeley and the student health service at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where she was a student. The woman had been treated earlier this year for mental health problems.

Attorneys for the Greeley hospital and the woman also oppose releasing the records.

The Los Angeles Lakers star, who is free on $25,000 bail, is scheduled to return to Eagle for the hearing, where Gannett will determine whether there is enough evidence to order a trial.

Gannett allowed cameras during Bryant's initial appearance last month, a seven-minute hearing during which his attorneys waived his right to be formally advised of the charge.

Court TV attorney Richard Holme would not comment Monday. He said the judge's order cannot be appealed under court rules.

Denver attorney Chris Beall, who represents news organizations including CNN, the Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post and NBC, said he was not surprised by the ruling and declined further comment.

Court TV said in its Aug. 6 request that the nation will be focused on the case.

"A principal means of preventing misreporting or misconstruction of the trial proceedings is to allow the unobtrusive presence of a television camera recording the proceedings," the cable channel said.

Bryant's attorneys and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert had argued against cameras.

"At the preliminary hearing, many facts of the case will come out. The word-by-word reporting of those facts would greatly prejudice the victim and the defendant's right to fair trial," Hurlbert wrote in court papers.

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

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press