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Kobe Bryant to Appear in Court Tomorrow to Hear Charges

Aired August 5, 2003 - 19:11   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get you up to the minute right now with some other stories.
The latest on the Kobe Bryant case. Tomorrow, as you might know, the basketball all-star will appear in a Colorado court. Now, it is going to be a much different kind of limelight than he is used to, to say the least. This will be Bryant's first court appearance on a sexual assault charge.

Now, today the judge in the case rejected the NBA star's request to keep cameras out of the courtroom. Meantime, the media frenzy just continues to grow by the second. Media organizations are pushing to get records in the case made public.

Let's go to CNN's Deborah Feyerick with the latest.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside Eagle County court, media central. Thirty satellite trucks from around the country. Hundreds more journalists, technicians, photographers, all gearing up for a hearing likely to last less than ten minutes.

The show's reluctant star, Kobe Bryant, ordered by a judge to show up and face the sexual assault charges against him. Bryant will not enter a plea. That comes later. But the L.A. Laker all-star guard, beloved for his style, grace and decency, has told the world he's guilty of adultery but not guilty of rape.

KOBE BRYANT, CHARGED WITH RAPE: I didn't force her to do anything against her will.

FEYERICK: The intensity of the spotlight seems to defy logic. The judge tells CNN he's flabbergasted by the attention's Bryant is receiving. And if anyone knows media, it's Judge Frederick Gannett.

His grandparents were New York City newspaper journalists. Then again, everyone linked to this case seems to know someone famous.

There's Kobe Bryant's defense team, Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon. Individually, they've represented JonBenet Ramsey's parents, author Hunter Thompson and Colorado avalanche goalie Patrick Roy.

District attorney Mark Hurlbert has fewer celebrity ties. But those who know him and his trial partner, Ingrid Bachie (ph), say they're a good match against Bryant's defense team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to see a battle of four effective but different courtroom communicators.

FEYERICK: And cameras or not, Kobe Bryant knows the stakes are high.


FEYERICK: Colorado has some of the toughest penalties when it comes to people convicted of sex crimes. If Kobe Bryant is found guilty, he could face anywhere between two years to life in prison.

And Anderson, a new development out of the court just a few moments ago. Kobe Bryant's defense team has filed a motion asking the judge to sanction members of the local law enforcement, including the sheriff himself. Kobe Bryant's defense team says they are guilty of leaking information to the media. The judge had warned all parties that they were not to discuss intimate details of this case -- Anderson.

COOPER: Has the judge ruled on that?

FEYERICK: The judge has not ruled on that. Kobe Bryant's team make general allegations. They say sources familiar with the prosecution's case, those people were quoted in a particular paper.

Then they also say law enforcement sources, and they mention the sheriff by name, who apparently spoke to a local television station. And they want the penalties enforced.

COOPER: All right. Deborah Feyerick thanks for the update.

As we noted, tomorrow will be the first time we get to see Kobe Bryant in court. Of course, Bryant and his lawyers know the viewers may well include future jurors. So what will they try to accomplish tomorrow?

That's the question we put to Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. She joins us also from Eagle.

Kimberly, good to see you again. Obviously, the defense knows all eyes are going to be watching them, including potential jurors. What are they going to try to achieve tomorrow?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: Well, it's going to be interesting. The two images of Kobe Bryant strikingly different.

One in the yellow NBA jersey and the pictures we've seen of him at the Espy Awards and Teen Choice Awards juxtaposed with tomorrow in the courtroom with a coat and tie for the world to see as he's arraigned on a forcible sex crime.

And in fact, I think it will be interesting tomorrow as we look forward to getting a preliminary hearing date set and in fact the judge will then, at that point, hear evidence in the case to see whether there is sufficient evidence to keep the charges against Kobe Bryant. He could dismiss them at that time and/or reduce them.

COOPER: How long a proceeding are we talking about? I mean, you talk about this preliminary hearing date, which would be the next step. Any sense of kind of how long -- how far away that is?

NEWSOM: Usually they set it. If he agrees to waive time and not have it within ten court days, and in fact it could be set out as far as a month or a couple months away, depending on the agreement between the parties. And this is usually done ahead of time before they appear in court.

So hopefully, this will come to justice sooner than later and both sides will be able to tell their side of the story.

COOPER: But in terms of the actual trial, some are saying this thing won't happen until even next summer?

NEWSOM: That's very likely. Because, in fact, in this case you're going to complex medical testimony, forensic evidence and in fact, look to see Kobe Bryant assemble some of the best experts out there to come and assist him in his defense. And that takes time.

Scheduling difficulties, as we've seen in the Peterson case, we're likely to see the same thing here with Kobe Bryant.

COOPER: Now, Kimberly, I don't know if you heard this, Deborah Feyerick was just reporting that Kobe Bryant's lawyers have asked the judge to sanction members of the local law enforcement -- they talk about sheriff's department -- for speaking to the media.

Is this just some sort of a defense tactic or is there real teeth behind this?

NEWSOM: Well, always in cases like this you're going see both sides accuse one another and a lot of finger pointing occurring, again, like we saw in Laci Peterson's case.

But in fact, it's going to be very difficult for them to prove and substantiate these allegations against the sheriff, law enforcement and the prosecution team. There would have to be a hearing before the judge would issue or levy any sanctions. There is a gag order imposed in this case. Both sides should be respectful but there are always going to be leaks.

COOPER: It's fascinating. I mean, imagine you are surrounded by this media, you know, I guess circus is a fair description. All for a hearing which, my understanding, is not going to last more than, like, ten minutes.

NEWSOM: That's true, Anderson. It probably will only last ten minutes. It's funny; as I was flying into Eagle, the pilot say said on the way, "Welcome to Eagle, the new capital of the world."

And that's what it feels like here today with everyone just descending upon this town to see what transpires in this case.

COOPER: And never have so many waited for so little. Tomorrow I guess we'll just have to see what happens.

Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, great to talk to you. Thanks very much.


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