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Bryant's prosecutors fight for open preliminary hearing

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Bryant’s prosecutors fight for open preliminary hearing

  • Prosecutors joined several news organizations in asking a Colorado county court to keep next month’s preliminary hearing open to the public and the media.

Sep. 25, 2003 — Kobe Bryant’s prosecutors asked a judge on Tuesday to keep next month’s preliminary hearing open, emphasizing news organizations’ view that the public has a right to witness the proceedings.

In filing an objection to a request by Bryant’s attorneys to close the hearing, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert argued that the evidence to be presented Oct. 9 is not enough to threaten Bryant’s right to a fair trial, according to a story in yesterday’s Denver Post. Attorneys for various news organizations — including The Associated Press, CNN, NBC and The Denver Post — petitioned Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett earlier this week to keep the preliminary hearing open.

Bryant, a star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman during his stay at a Colorado resort on June 30. Bryant admitted to having sex with the woman, who worked at the resort, but said it was consensual. Bryant is free on a $25,000 bond.

Hurlbert argued that the only reasonable means for the judge to close the hearing is if an imminent threat existed to prevent Bryant from receiving a fair trial, and if no reasonable alternative existed to prevent that threat.

“In essence,” Hurlbert wrote, according to The Denver Post, “what the public will get is (a) general and — with cross examination — fair overview of the facts of this case. That surely does not rise to a ‘clear and present danger.'”

In the media organization’s arguments earlier this week, attorney Chris Beall cited a 24-year-old Colorado Supreme Court case as precedential against closed hearings. There have been no closed preliminary hearings in Colorado since 1979, he said.

(Colorado v. Bryant; Media counsel: Christopher Beall, Faegre & Benson, Denver, for The Denver Post, The Los Angeles Times, Freedom Communications, KNBC, NBC Inc, CNN, Fox News and The Associated Press) VR

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© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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