Attorneys for Kobe Bryant’s accuser case have given repeated interviews criticizing presiding Judge Terry Ruckriegle. John Clune and Lin Wood say the judge has failed to protect their client, the woman who says she was raped by the basketball star last summer. The Denver Post says their comments have brought a severe rebuke from Ruckriegle and Tom Overton, a state hearing officer who is part of a three-member panel that determines if lawyers have violated Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Last Friday, Ruckriegle told Clune and Wood they had commented improperly on the merits of the case and on the character of Bryant and witnesses, and had directed inflammatory criticism at the judge. Overton told the Post that if media reports of the comments of Wood and Clune are correct, “their actions have shown an utter contempt for the integrity of the state judicial system and the court.”
Wood and Clune spoke out after court officials committed a series of errors: publication of the accuser’s name on a state judicial Web site and distribution of transcripts from a sensitive closed rape-shield hearing to seven media organizations, which published the contents of the transcripts. The lawyers said publication of their client’s name and the release of the transcripts – which they said are one-sided from a defense perspective – have made it impossible for their client to receive a fair hearing at Bryant’s trial scheduled to start Aug. 27.