Seelen arrives during jury selection phase

Updated: August 31, 2004, 8:43 PM ET
Associated Press

EAGLE, Colo. -- Prosecutors have recruited more help as they pick the jury in the sexual assault trial of NBA star Kobe Bryant.

Joyce Seelen, an attorney and author, joined the team this week to provide help "behind the scenes on all aspects of the case," prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan said.

She declined to provide details, but Denver attorney Scott Robinson said Seelen, a former public defender, is a highly respected specialist in handling civil cases dealing with sexual assault or abuse, especially cases involving clergy and others in a position of trust.

"She's brilliant, committed to a cause: vindicating the victims of sexual assault," he said.

Seelen, a former real estate agent in Hawaii, co-authored a book on using a standardized personality-evaluation test in dealing with expert witnesses and attorneys at trial.

She has a deep understanding of how people are affected by others in positions of power or trust, said John Sadwith, executive director of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. He said prosecutors might suggest Bryant "had some kind of psychological power" over the accuser.

The timing of Seelen's appearance -- during individual questioning of potential jurors -- could indicate that prosecutors wanted to seat jurors willing to accept an argument that the Bryant's accuser was strongly affected by Bryant's celebrity, experts said.

"She does it in civil context they're doing it in a criminal context, but people are people," said Dan Recht, former president of the Colorado Criminal Bar Association. "In both cases, both as a plaintiff's lawyer and as a prosecutor, you're in a sense representing a victim of sexual assault."

Bryant, 26, has said he had consensual sex with the woman, then 19, at a Vail-area resort where she worked last summer. If convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press