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Cameras allowed in Bryant district court appearance

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Cameras allowed in Bryant district court appearance

  • In unrelated action, supermarkets in Colorado and surrounding states take national tabloid Globe off their shelves for running a photo of Bryant’s accuser on its cover.

Nov. 4, 2003 — Two media outlets were granted in-court camera access to Kobe Bryant’s first state district court appearance, to be held Nov. 13 in Colorado. Court TV can bring a broadcast camera and The Associated Press can bring a still camera into court, the presiding judge ordered last Friday.

State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle, chief judge of the Fifth Judicial District, appointed himself to the high-profile sexual assault case in mid-October. Ruckriegle also announced Friday that NBC can have a camera in the hallway that leads to the courtroom.

The court appearance will likely take only a few minutes. Bryant, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, will be informed of his rights, the charges against him and the possible penalties. Bryant, 25, will also be able to make a plea at that time.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett allowed cameras in the courtroom for Bryant’s advisement hearing Aug. 6, but banned them from his preliminary hearing Oct. 9.

Bryant is charged with felony sexual assault for allegedly raping a 19-year-old worker at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, located in Edwards, Colo., in June. Bryant, who is married with a daughter, says they had consensual sex.

Also last Friday, Oct. 29, the supermarket tabloid magazine Globe published the photo and name of Bryant’s accuser under the headline “Did she really say no?” The magazine says the photo, which shows Bryant’s accuser in a playfully promiscuous pose, was taken during her high school prom.

Media pundits have widely criticized the Globe for running the photo, as most mainstream publications have a policy against publishing the name or a photograph of someone alleging sexual assault.

In response, Colorado’s two biggest supermarket chains — King Soopers/City Market and Safeway — removed the magazine from racks near their checkout counters. Officials for King Soopers and its sister store, City Market, say this week’s edition of the Globe is available only through its customer service counters in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Safeway won’t offer the magazine at all in Colorado.

“We made the decision to pull it from the racks so that customers would not be forced to view it as they went through the check-out lanes,” Trail Daugherty, a spokesman for King Soopers and City Market, told the AP last week.

It’s a reaction free press advocates say smacks of hypocrisy.

“If the supermarket chain is going to be this sensitive, are they showing similar sensitivities when photos of the accused comes forward?” Ron Collins, a scholar at the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center, said. “If it’s not against the law, why not let their customers decide if they want to see it?

“Plus, it doesn’t accomplish anything,” Collins added. “This kind of censorial practice only encourages others to disseminate the information.”

(Colorado v. Bryant) JL

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© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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