Judge will advise of rights, possible penalty
EAGLE, Colo. -- Initial court appearances typically are quick and go relatively unnoticed, but the Kobe Bryant case is anything but typical.
When Bryant steps into the courtroom Wednesday, TV viewers across the country can watch as a judge advises the NBA superstar of his rights, the sexual assault charge against him and the possible penalty.
Bryant probably will respond with "yes" and "no" answers to the judge's questions and be on his way in under 30 minutes.
"In a normal case, this whole matter could take two minutes," said Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor and now a defense attorney. "Everybody wants a little show on Aug. 6, and apparently we're going to have one."
Bryant, 24, has said he had sex with a 19-year-old employee at a resort June 30 but denies her claims of sexual assault. He's free on $25,000 bond.
Bryant's defense lawyers asked Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett to let the Los Angeles Lakers' guard skip the hearing, citing it as a common practice in Colorado for out-of-state defendants. Gannett denied the request, saying it's vital for Bryant to appear.
Frank Jackson, a Dallas criminal defense attorney, said celebrity defendants typically skip routine hearings.
Of the judge's decision, Jackson said, "I think it's being a little heavy handed."
The high-profile nature of the hearing could help Bryant bolster his tarnished image, especially if he brings his wife Vanessa, said Stan Goldman, professor at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles. "The fact that he is not sloughing this off might be important," Goldman said.
Gannett probably will schedule a preliminary hearing, during which he'll determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial in state district court.
Bryant's attorneys could waive the preliminary hearing, even though they could get a hint at the prosecutor's strategy. Such hearings rarely go in favor of a defendant, and Bryant's attorneys are unlikely to want the alleged victim's allegations detailed in open court, Silverman said.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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