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
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,"
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.