Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Lakers Fine Kobe Bryant For Shaq Smack 

Lakers Fine Kobe Bryant For Shaq Smack

Can't we all just get along?

Kobe Bryant said he and teammate Shaquille O'Neal will do just that in order to help the Los Angeles Lakers win another NBA championship.

Bryant said he and O'Neal have put their dispute behind them and have moved on.

"We're cool," Bryant said after the team's victory over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night. "We talked this morning. He said what he said, I said what I said. We put it behind us."

When he spoke out about teammate Shaq, Bryant suggested that the team do something about the rift between the two star players.

The team did.

Bryant was fined for comments he made to ESPN in which he called his teammate "childlike" and "unprofessional," and accused him of exaggerating the severity of his foot injury last season.

The team didn't reveal the amount of the fine.

Coach Phil Jackson said before Tuesday night's game that the feud was not an insurmountable problem for the team.

Lately, Bryant and O'Neal have been sniping at each other in the media -- complaining about the other's physical condition and level of commitment to the team.

The Lakers held a team meeting in their locker room before their shoot-around Tuesday morning. Teammates say Bryant, O'Neal, Karl Malone and coach Phil Jackson were the only ones who spoke.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Injured Kobe Bryant Lashes Out at Shaq 

Bryant might miss opener; criticizes O'Neal

The tension engulfing Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers is growing, and the season hasn't even begun.

As the Lakers' ``Dream Team'' of Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton prepared for Tuesday night's opener against Dallas, Bryant indicated he might not play, and again lashed out at O'Neal, calling the center childish and accusing him of coming to training camp ``fat and out of shape'' in previous years.

``My knee is not strong enough to play yet. I know it. When it is, I will play,'' Bryant told ESPN by phone Monday. ``I probably won't play tomorrow night or until I'm ready.''

Bryant, coming back from offseason knee surgery, traded barbs with O'Neal through the media over the weekend. Neither spoke with reporters after practice Monday, although Bryant did the telephone interview with ESPN.

The Lakers weren't so sure Bryant will miss the game.

``Our understanding is that Kobe might not play because of the knee injury,'' Lakers director of public relations John Black said Monday night. ``We think he probably will. That decision will be made tomorrow based on how Kobe is feeling and how his knee feels prior to the game.''

Life Gets a Little Too Real for Kobe and the Lakers 

Life Gets a Little Too Real for Kobe and the Lakers

Before their season from hell came their preseason from hell.

Not even Coach Phil Jackson, who'd warned his team what was coming, expected a circus like this, as proceedings in Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case dragged into their fourth week without a trial date, and the strung-out Laker organization barred members of the media on media day, then lifted the credential of another for asking the wrong question.

Like everyone else, Jackson had come to rely on the old Bulletproof Kobe, but this wasn't that prodigy anymore, emerging from a summer of seclusion.

Meanwhile, lest anyone forget Shaquille O'Neal, he had issues too, starting with management's refusal to extend his contract, which runs three more seasons at an average of $29.3 million.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Fans Cheer Kobe Bryant in Exhibition Lakers Loss 

Kobe Bryant told everyone he loved them. For another night, at least, everyone loved him back.

Cheered from the moment he stepped off the team bus, Bryant got in some much needed work with his All-Star teammates Friday night as the Los Angeles Lakers lost 93-87 to the Sacramento Kings in the final exhibition game for both teams.

Bryant played 23 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-10 shooting. He spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench getting his right knee wrapped and his legs massaged by a trainer as the Lakers reserves rallied to make the game close.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Kobe Bryant case tests limits of 'rape shield laws'  

The Chrisitan Science Monitor looks into the Kobe Bryant Rape case and it's testing of "rape shield laws"

As the rape case against basketball star Kobe Bryant proceeds, expect to see the alleged victim's past on trial too - both inside and outside the courtroom.

A Colorado judge allowed the case to go forward Monday one week after Mr. Bryant's defense attorneys introduced lurid evidence of the accuser's other sexual experiences at a preliminary hearing.

Like most states, Colorado has a "rape shield law" that generally protects victims from disclosures about their sexual conduct or reputation before or after an alleged assault. But the Colorado law includes two exceptions: evidence about prior sexual conduct with the defendant and evidence that might show the acts charged were not committed by the defendant.

Now, in the highest-profile criminal prosecution since O.J. Simpson's trial a decade ago, the balance between a defendant's right to a fair trial and an accuser's rights under the rape shield law will be tested.

The disclosures already made in the Bryant case show that rape shield laws don't completely prevent allusions to the sexual history of accusers. Advocates of victims' rights say such disclosures show precisely why rape shield laws are necessary, arguing that a defendant's guilt or innocence should related to his or her own behavior, not that of the alleged victim.

Bryant case tests limits of 'rape shield laws' | csmonitor.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Kate Farber Testimony will Be Tough 

Difficult testimony looming for Bryant's accuser

With questions raised about the quality of evidence in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, testimony from the NBA star and the woman accusing him of rape may play a crucial role at trial.

Bryant is familiar with the media and has already sat in front of TV cameras and admitted to adultery.

His 19-year-old accuser, however, will have to discuss graphic details of her encounter with the Los Angeles Lakers' guard and be ready for difficult questions from his attorneys -and may have to do so in front of an international television audience.

"She's had a lot of practice being attacked by the defense already," said Wendy Murphy, a victim's advocate and professor at the New England School of Law. "It helps build thick skin, helps prepare her and limit her anxiety."

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ruled Monday that prosecutors presented enough evidence at Bryant's preliminary hearing to send the case to district court for a potential trial.

But in a nine-page ruling, Gannett said some of the evidence appeared to have questionable value and said prosecutors offered only enough to get the case to trial. Bryant's first appearance in district court is scheduled for Nov. 10.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Kobe Bryant Must Stand Trial for Rape 

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was ordered on Monday to stand trial on charges he raped a 19-year-old woman who flirted with him at a Colorado mountain resort last June, despite what a judge called minimal evidence to support the charge.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ordered the star athlete back to court on Nov. 10 for a hearing in the case, which could go to trial next spring.

But he said in his eight-page decision, "The people presented, despite the court's consistent comments and admonitions concerning the amount and nature of evidence, ... what can only be described as a minimal amount of evidence."

He also rejected the prosecution's contentions that Bryant had implicated himself with his own statements to police -- statements that have never been made public.

Gannett based his decision to bind Bryant, 25, over for a trial on evidence presented at a preliminary hearing which ended last week and included graphic testimony from a police officer that the basketball star forced the woman over a chair and then had sex with her while his hand was around her neck.

NBC 4 - News - Kobe's Attorney Reportedly Receives Death Threats 

People magazine reports that Bryant's lead attorney says she has been threatened.

The magazine says Pamela Mackey has told at least one colleague at the Colorado Women's Bar Association that she has received more than 40 death threats since the start of the preliminary hearing last week.

During the hearing, Mackey upset the judge by repeatedly mentioning the accuser's name -- and trying to introduce the accuser's sexual history into the hearing.

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Kobe Bryant: 'Every day is a bad day' 

Kobe Bryant went through his hardest scrimmage of the preseason today, and he sounded downcast afterward.

"Every day is a bad day," Bryant said.

"You just kind of take the good with it. We'll get through this situation. Every storm has to end. The sunshine is a rainbow after every storm, so you just go along with it."

Bryant is expected to learn Monday whether he will stand trial in Eagle, Colo., on a sexual assault charge.

A 19-year-old woman accused the Los Angeles Lakers' All-Star guard of raping her on June 30 at the mountain resort where she worked. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex.

Coach Phil Jackson gave a day off to all the Lakers age 30 and older. That left Bryant, 25, to scrimmage with several members of the preseason roster who will not be on the team when the regular season begins.

Kobe Bryant judge expected to decide this week whether sex-assault trial goes forward 

Kobe Bryant judge expected to decide this week whether sex-assault trial goes forward

Kobe Bryant could learn this week whether he will be tried on charges he raped a 19-year-old hotel worker.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett was expected to issue a ruling as early as Monday, with many legal analysts predicting Bryant would be ordered to stand trial.

A preliminary hearing that ended last week revealed graphic and sometimes conflicting evidence about the June 30 encounter between the basketball star and his 19-year-old accuser. Bryant has said the sex was consensual.

A relatively low threshold of proof is required at a preliminary hearing before a case can go to trial. Under state law, evidence at such a hearing must be considered in a light most favorable to prosecutors

Kobe Bryant Posters 

Basketball - Basketball - L.A. Lakers,2002 NBA Champions  ( Poster )

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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Next turn in Kobe's future may come Monday 

Next turn in Kobe's future may come Monday

DENVER -- Kobe Bryant may find out this week whether he will stand trial for rape, a case that could send the NBA superstar to prison for life if he is convicted.

Judge Frederick Gannett was expected to release his ruling as early as Monday, and many legal experts believed he would order a trial.

"If the (woman's) story indicates that she was sexually assaulted, that is enough to bring the case forward absent some conclusive proof that she is lying," said Christopher Mueller, a University of Colorado law school professor.

During a two-day preliminary hearing that wrapped up last week, graphic and sometimes conflicting evidence emerged about the June 30 encounter between Bryant and the woman at the mountain resort where she worked.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

ESPN.com - NBA - Enough to convict Kobe? Experts skeptical 

Enough to convict Kobe? Experts skeptical

Kobe Bryant will probably be ordered to stand trial for rape but it remains to be seen if prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him, many legal experts said.

During a two-day preliminary hearing that ended Wednesday, both sides showed hints of their strategy. Prosecutors alleged the NBA superstar forced himself on the Eagle woman while Bryant's attorneys attacked her credibility.

"This is just the beginning in terms of the evidence and at a probable cause hearing, you put on the minimal amount of evidence that you think you need in order to get over the probable cause threshold," former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser said Thursday.

"I would imagine there's going to be a lot more coming and that's why people should not make value judgments at this point in time on the strengths and weaknesses of the case."

Judge Frederick Gannett hoped to decide by Monday whether to order Bryant to stand trial on the sexual assault charge. A 19-year-old Eagle woman accused the Los Angeles Lakers' guard of raping her June 30 at the mountain resort where she worked. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Pamela Mackey got the lead investigator to acknowledge the panties the woman wore to the hospital fewer than 24 hours after the alleged assault had sperm and pubic hair that did not match Bryant's. Mackey said it presented "compelling evidence" her client is innocent.

The panties were a different pair than the underwear the woman said she wore the night she met Bryant.

"I don't think they proved innocence. They raised a series of questions," said Robert Pugsley, a professor at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. "It could conceivably set the stage for plea negotiations or some type of out-of-court settlement."

Evidence Strong Against Kobe Bryant !! 

Evidence Strong Against Kobe Bryant

There is enough evidence against Kobe Bryant -- from a bruise on his accuser's jaw to her blood on his shirt -- for the basketball star to go on trial for rape and be convicted, prosecutors said on Wednesday at the end of a tense two-day preliminary hearing.

But Bryant's high-powered attorney told the judge the 19-year-old woman was "not worthy of your belief" and that there was compelling evidence of his innocence.

Legal observers said under Colorado law prosecutors presented enough evidence in the preliminary hearing to persuade the judge to bind Bryant over for trial.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ended a graphic preliminary hearing spread over two weeks by saying he would make a decision by Monday whether Bryant had to stand trial on one count of felony sexual assault with the use of force.

Eagle Country District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said after the hearing that the prosecution does not have to show all its evidence at the preliminary hearing. "I'm confident in our case," he said.

Kate's Underwear had Another Man's Sperm!! 

Basketball star's rape accuser 'not worthy of belief'

Lawyers for Kobe Bryant asked a judge yesterday not to put the basketball star on trial for rape, saying his 19-year-old accuser was "not worthy of your belief" and there was compelling evidence of his innocence.

But prosecutors argued that besides the woman's graphic account of her ordeal to police, there was blood evidence and a bruise that pointed to rape.

They urged the judge in a preliminary hearing to send the case to trial.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ended a tense and graphic two-day hearing spread over two weeks by saying he would make a decision by Tuesday.

Bryant has denied raping the woman, saying they had consensual sex. His lawyer Pamela Mackey said prosecutors failed to show the burden of proof required.

"This is an extremely thin case based almost entirely on hearsay," she said, referring to the alleged victim not testifying and having her account instead given by a police detective.

Of the accuser, Mackey told the judge, "She is not worthy of your belief."

But prosecutor Gregg Crittenden reminded the court that the judge had other testimony as well as photos and blood evidence. He insisted that this was not a "hearsay" case.

"He [Detective Doug Winters] saw underpants with blood on them. He saw three bloodstained smears on the defendant's shirt. Those were tested and the results came back being the victim's blood."

The lawyers spoke at the end of the hearing in which Winters admitted under cross-examination that semen and pubic hair belonging to someone other than Bryant was found in the woman's underwear.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Judge in Kobe Bryant case trying to manage high-profile hurricane 

Judge in Kobe Bryant case trying to manage high-profile hurricane

The judge presiding over the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case so far has received high marks from analysts who praised his handling of complicated legal questions in one of the highest-profile cases to hit Colorado.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett, who typically deals with petty crimes such as theft, has taken an unusually large role in the case.

Most Colorado county judges view their role in preliminary hearings as a quick rubber stamp to advance the case to higher court. But Gannett is striving to give both prosecutors and Bryant's attorneys a fair chance, Denver defense attorney Scott Robinson said.

"He's trying his best to be fair and doesn't want to be as abrupt and peremptory as county court judges are in many other counties who view sitting in preliminary hearings as a bit of a waste of time," Robinson said.

"Those judges tend to have what I call a `let's get on with it' attitude and view their role as passing the case along."

Gannett is carefully considering each of his moves in the case not only to ensure fairness but also to show the world that a small-town judicial system can handle the case, said Oakland, Calif., jury consultant Howard Varinsky.

"This publicity is similar to the O.J. (Simpson) publicity," Varinsky said. "I don't know how he's doing, but it is a massive animal to control."

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Kobe Bryant's Lawyers Play Hardball in Rape Case 

Yahoo! News - Kobe Bryant's Lawyers Play Hardball in Rape Case

One day after Kobe Bryant (news)'s attorneys tried to turn the tables on the woman who accused the Los Angeles Laker star of rape, the defense's tactics were the talk of the state on Friday.

Women's groups denounced Bryant's lawyers for suggesting in open court that the woman's injuries could have been caused by sexual encounters with other men -- a suggestion that clearly irked the judge and left some wondering whether the hearing would be open to the press and public or closed in future.

Cynthia Stone, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said her organization was "mortified but not surprised" when defense attorney Pamela Mackey alluded to the accuser's sexual past and identified the woman by name in open court.

"It's impossible to believe such an experienced litigator such as Pamela Mackey would let her name slip six times during the proceeding," Stone said.

Friday, October 10, 2003

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Explosive Testimony Marks Kobe Hearing 

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Explosive Testimony Marks Kobe Hearing

The country got a taste of what the ongoing rape case against the basketball star would be like Thursday as explosive comments from both the defense and prosecution riled up the judge presiding over the preliminary hearing and disturbing details emerged about how Bryant allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old woman.

The hearing, to determine whether the Los Angeles Laker will stand trial on charges that he assaulted the woman at the resort where she worked, was scheduled to continue next Wednesday.

Prosecutors wasted no time during the hearing painting the athlete as a callous rapist who wouldn't take no for an answer.

Defense attorneys didn't take long, either, to show they were willing to go on the attack -- even on his accuser.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Kobe Bryant Circus Shows Less Fans Supporting Bryant 

Kobe Bryant Circus

George Zinn of Salt Lake City got two keepsakes for his scrapbook by showing up for Kobe Bryant's court hearing on Thursday.

He took a photograph of the court docket showing Bryant was scheduled for a preliminary hearing.

Later he got an autograph from O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, who was covering the hearing for ''Entertainment Tonight.''

''I'm just here because it's interesting,'' said Zinn, 49. ''I don't consider Kobe a role model. That's not something you brag to kids about.''

Zinn stopped in Eagle on the way to Denver for the weekend on a Greyhound bus. Zinn said his propensity for showing up at big events such as four Republican conventions earned him the nickname ''Zelig,'' after the Woody Allen film about a man who stumbles into historic events.

Zinn was one of a handful of people who showed up to get tickets to watch Thursday's preliminary hearing, where prosecutors outlined their case for a judge before he decides whether to order a trial.

A crowd showed up at Bryant's last appearance on Aug. 6, many of them fans of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

There was less fan support evident on Thursday when Bryant got out of a white sport-utility vehicle at the courthouse. Aaron Champion was there in a Lakers jersey with Bryant's name on it.

''I'm here to support Kobe and show him he has supporters behind him and we believe in him,'' he said.

The hearing was just another interesting stop on Virginia Ricke's trip south for the winter. Ricke, a retiree from Ames, Iowa, visited Aspen Wednesday and decided to spend Thursday in Eagle after hearing of Bryant's court appearance.

''I kind of believe that whatever happened in that room was dumb - whether it was rape or not - because he had such a good clean image before,'' Ricke said.

The event created some business opportunities.

Men wore sandwich boards advertising a hotel in Colorado Springs with the slogan, ''Escape The Madness'' while Daysi Spath of Bonjour Bakery sold lattes and danishes to reporters and photographers from the back of her SUV.

College students announced the launch of a new business called Protect Condoms, which offers a box containing two condoms and a ''pre-sexual agreement'' with a list of acts the signers agree to before a casual sexual encounter.

Graphic details in Kobe Bryant hearing - The Washington Times 

Graphic details in Kobe Bryant hearing - The Washington Times: United Press International

Professional basketball player Kobe Bryant remained impassive during a detective's graphic testimony Thursday in a preliminary hearing on a rape charge.

The detective said he was told by Bryant's 19-year-old accuser that after some mutual flirting and some kissing in his room, the encounter turned violent when he held her face down and ignored her cries, CNN reported.

Bryant acknowledges having sex with the hotel clerk at a mountain lodge near the Vail ski resort, but denies that he assaulted her against her will.

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Bryant In Court Today, But Proceeding Unclear 

Bryant's attorneys can go forward with the 3 p.m. EDT hearing, which is designed to determine whether there is enough evidence to justify a trial. But doing so could expose damaging evidence against the Lakers star.

The other choice is to waive the hearing and proceed straight to trial.

But many legal analysts believe Bryant's lawyers will waive the proceeding. The defense team last week lost a bid to have Bryant's 19-year-old accuser testify during the hearing in an effort to test her credibility.

If the hearing is waived and the case goes to trial, Bryant could end up being arraigned on the sexual assault charge Thursday and make a plea. In either case, he has to be in the courtroom for a bond hearing.

By waiving the hearing, a decision that Bryant's attorneys could announce at the last minute, they also would avoid the disclosure of details until trial.

Prosecutors planned to have a sheriff's detective describe details of what allegedly happened between Bryant and the accuser on the night of June 30.

Just like in Bryant's previous court appearance, a media horde has descended on the small town of Eagle, tucked in the Rockies, about 120 miles west of Denver. Police will be setting up barricades to keep both reporters and fans at bay.

It was in Eagle that Bryant had an admitted sexual encounter with the accuser at a resort where Bryant was staying to have surgery. The woman alleges she was sexually assaulted. Bryant says the sex was consensual.

Big white media tents and hundreds of reporters and photographers are packed outside the courthouse in Eagle County.

On the courthouse grounds, there are big maps showing exactly which areas are strictly off-limits to reporters, including the walkway in front of the judge's office windows.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Attorneys Talk, But Still Mum On Bryant Hearing 

theBakersfieldChannel.com - Attorneys Talk, But Still Mum On Bryant Hearing
No one's saying whether Kobe Bryant will waive his preliminary hearing -- at least not yet.

Attorneys in the case huddled with a judge in Eagle, Colo., Wednesday, but didn't talk about whether or not the hearing will be waived.

If it's waived, details of the case and potentially damaging evidence will be kept from being heard publicly before the trial.

Bryant is accused of raping a hotel worker in his room at a mountain lodge in June. He says the sexual encounter was consensual.

Attorneys will meet again with the judge before Bryant's hearing on Thursday. Defense attorneys could move to waive the hearing and take their chances at trial.

Bryant's free on $25,000 bail.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

NBA Notebook: Security tight for Bryant's court date 

NBA Notebook: Security tight for Bryant's court date

Authorities are tightening security before NBA star Kobe Bryant arrives in Colorado for a preliminary hearing Thursday that might not even take place.

Dozens of threats against the prosecutor, the judge and Bryant's 19-year-old accuser helped prompt the tougher steps. Armed guards will be at the courthouse, one entrance will be locked, and a metal detector will be set up at the other door.

The question is whether there will be a hearing to determine whether the Los Angeles Lakers star will stand trial. Many believe that for tactical reasons, his attorneys will waive his right to a preliminary hearing, clearing the way for a rape trial sometime next year.

"If the defense doesn't waive it, what's going to happen is that the public, and of course potential jurors, is going to be left with an image of what happened in that room -- and it's going to be an image that goes unrebutted," said Norm Early, a former Denver district attorney. "I think it would be very detrimental to Bryant and I just don't see him risking that kind of exposure."

Prosecutors have said they plan to call a sheriff's detective as a witness to discuss the investigation and conclusions reached by a nurse who examined Bryant's accuser.

Legal experts say the defense will probably waive the hearing, in part because the judge has ruled the woman cannot be forced to testify and undergo cross-examination by the defense.

Kobe's marriage on rocks before Colorado? 

Kobe's marriage on rocks before Colorado?

The marriage between Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine was in trouble before this summer's assault charges against the Los Angeles Laker in Colorado, according to a Newsweek cover story.

In March 2002, two months after the birth of their daughter Natalia, Laine was rushed to the hospital when she learned that Bryant had contacted a divorce lawyer.

The couple has no prenuptial agreement. "He just said, 'I can make the money back,' " says a player who advised Bryant to get a prenup. "He was like, 'She can have it, because I'm young and I don't see it ending like that way anyway.' "

Will Michael Jordan replace Kobe? 

FOXSports.com | Report: If Bryant can't go, Phil may call MJ

For the time being, Kobe Bryant is committed to playing the 2003-04 NBA season with the specter of a sexual assault trial looming over his head.
But should Bryant be unable to play, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has reportedly considered approaching former player and NBA legend Michael Jordan to take his place.

"It has crossed my mind," Jackson told the Chicago Tribune. "But I don't think I'd ask Michael that question until it became absolutely necessary or it became a reality. It's just speculation."

The move would add a third member of the original Dream Team to the Lakers' payroll. Earlier this off-season, the team signed free agents Karl Malone and Gary Payton, who both teamed with Jordan during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Unlike those players, however, Jordan is already familiar with the Lakers' triangle offense, which he ran to the tune of six NBA championships with the Bulls, as well as the team's coaching staff.

It would also give Jordan an opportunity to craft a better ending to his career. The 40-year-old retired for the third time after the 2002-03 campaign having missed the postseason in both his seasons with the Washington Wizards.

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