Bryant Judge Weighs Closing Hearing, Hints Delay

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The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case raised the possibility of postponing next week’s preliminary hearing. Judge Fred Gannett said he hopes to decide by Thursday whether to close the hearing to the public and whether to compel the accuser to testify despite objections from the prosecution, says the Denver Post. “Obviously we’re looking at the ninth as our D-day,” Judge Fred Gannett said yesterday. “To change that date would have a major impact on a lot of people.”

Gannett must weigh contentious defense motions to close the hearing outright and to call the 19-year-old accuser to the stand, as well as a defense request for the woman’s medical records.

“There are a number of issues,” Gannett said, jokingly referring to “343 pending motions.” “But all those issues, I think, are going to be addressed in one response,” he said. “We’re going to try to have it out by the end of this week.”

Bryant still could waive the hearing and allow the case to be sent directly to district court for trial. Bryant, 25, is accused of sexually assaulting the woman June 30 at a lodge where he was staying while having minor surgery. The Los Angeles Lakers star admitted to committing adultery but said the liaison was consensual.

Attorneys for Bryant asked yesterday for a closed hearing. “This is an extraordinary case with unprecedented risk that Mr. Bryant will be deprived of his right to a fair trial,” defense attorney Pamela Mackey wrote. “The unprecedented media attention makes this case different from other criminal prosecutions, and … precautions must be taken in this case that are not taken in others.” The Associated Press has requested on behalf of news media an overflow courtroom, citing a similar provision in the Oklahoma City bombing trials. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has not objected to an auxiliary courtroom but has opposed closing the hearing.


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