No Cameras At Bryant Hearing; Medical Files Debate

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A judge has denied requests for cameras in the courtroom at Kobe Bryant’s preliminary hearing on sexual assault charges Oct. 9 in Eagle, Colo. Cameras were permitted at his bond hearing last month. The judge cited the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct, which says there should be no cameras at pretrial hearings, with the exception of advisements and arraignments.

The Rocky Mountain News says Bryant’s lawyers and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert opposed having cameras in the October hearing. Bryant attorney Hal Haddon said barring cameras was essential to preserving his client’s chances of facing an impartial jury, in part because evidence rules at such sessions are more lenient than at trial.

On another Bryant issue, the Los Angeles Times say that requests by the basketball star’s attorneys seeking hospital medical records of the woman who accused him have raised questions about whether a new federal law on medical privacy provides sufficient protections.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, set a national standard for medical privacy, giving patients greater control over their health records.

But the law changed little about how medical records are obtained in legal cases.

When a patient’s medical records are deemed pertinent to a criminal or civil case – a point being debated in the Bryant case – they may have to be surrendered even without the patient’s consent, legal experts say. Attorneys for the Colorado hospital where the 19-year-old woman was hospitalized in February are fighting the subpoena to release her records.

“In high-profile cases where there’s a high level of press interest, there are some [who illegally] pay for or find a staff person at a hospital to get the information,” said Janlori Goldman of Georgetown University’s Health Privacy Project. In such cases, where criminal intent is involved, Goldman said HIPAA doesn’t go far enough to safeguard patients. HIPAA laws don’t allow patients to sue. Instead, they must file a complaint within 180 days of the incident, and the government will decide whether to pursue a case.

The Rocky Mountain News says that Bryant is seeking not only hospital records but also the woman’s records from the University of Northern Colorado, which she attended as a freshman last year.


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