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Judge feels cameras will not impact fairness

EAGLE, Colo. -- The judge in the Kobe Bryant case Monday
rejected the NBA star's request to keep cameras out of the
courtroom during his first court appearance on a sexual assault
charge.

Bryant's attorneys argued against allowing cameras during the
hearing scheduled Wednesday, saying they could jeopardize Bryant's
right to a fair trial.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ruled that was unlikely.

"Defendant's objections are general in nature and do not allege
any specific prejudice which may result from expanded media
coverage," the judge wrote.

Gannett said he will release one brief submitted by the
prosecutor in response to a media request to unseal all court
documents, according to Chris Beall, a Denver attorney representing
some media groups.

Prosecutors and attorneys for media organizations advised
Gannett on what information to omit from the document to protect
the privacy of the alleged victim and the witnesses.

Bryant is charged with felony sexual assault against a
19-year-old woman on June 30 at a mountain resort. The Los Angeles
Lakers superstar said the sex was consensual and that he was guilty
only of adultery.

At Wednesday's hearing, Gannett will advise Bryant of the charge
against him, of his rights and of the possible penalty. His order
said there would be no discussions of evidence or fact-finding.

The brief, written by District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, is in
response to a request from media organizations, including the Los
Angeles Times, Denver Post, NBC and CNN, to open the records to
public review.

Hurlbert's spokeswoman, Krista Flannigan, said attorneys for
both sides often work together to compromise on what type of
information will remain sealed.

In a brief made public Monday, media attorneys agreed to omit
specific information that could identify the alleged victim. They
asked the judge to release information that was discussed during
last week's hearing, or had been disseminated on the Internet.
Hurlbert asked in his filing that other portions of the records
be redacted. He identified them by sentence and paragraph, but did
not elaborate on the type of information they contained.

Also Monday, Gannett denied Bryant's motion asking that media
coverage requests be submitted at least 30 days before a
proceeding. Instead, he gave media organizations seven days to
submit coverage requests for hearings scheduled with at least 20
days' notice.

Bryant's hearing will be in a courtroom with 68 seats, far fewer
than what can accommodate the vast number of reporters covering the
case. An overflow tent has been set up outside to accommodate the
rest of the media.

Anyone attending the hearing must pass through a metal detector,
which can detect the cell phones and tape recorders barred by the
judge. The other two courtrooms in the building will be empty by
the time Bryant arrives.

Bryant hasn't requested an official escort from the Vail
airport, about six miles west of the courthouse, Eagle County
Undersheriff Ken Wilson said.

"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "We've never had
anything in Eagle County this big."