Archive for Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bryant defense rips request for investigation

November 20, 2003

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— Kobe Bryant's defense team ridiculed the prosecution's request for an investigation of media leaks Wednesday, saying even the judge in the Oklahoma City bombing trial considered such a probe a waste of time.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, asked the judge to begin sealing certain evidence-related requests by attorneys in the sexual assault case against the NBA player. They contend such details could influence the jury pool.

The court filings are the latest salvo in what legal experts expect to be a sharp fight as attorneys try to determine what evidence will be admitted at Bryant's trial. Judge Terry Ruckriegle has scheduled hearings Dec. 19 and Jan. 23 to discuss requests by both sides, and he could make decisions then about the evidence.

In her filing, deputy prosecutor Ingrid Bakke asked the judge to seal court filings discussing evidence, saying publicity could influence prospective jurors.

Some of that evidence may not be admitted at trial, Bakke wrote.

"The concern is (prosecutors) don't want the public hearing all this evidence that might not come before a jury because it does taint the jury pool," said Karen Steinhauser, a former Denver prosecutor and visiting professor at the University of Denver's law school.

For the same reason, she said, Ruckriegle may end up closing motions hearings to the public to ensure the accuser's privacy and Bryant's fair-trial rights.

Bryant, 25, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted of sexual assault. He is accused of raping a 19-year-old worker at a Colorado resort where he stayed June 30.

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