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On The Scene

Toobin: Gravity of Bryant situation apparent

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

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EAGLE, Colorado (CNN) -- CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was in a Colorado courtroom crowded with reporters, onlookers and lawyers to watch NBA superstar Kobe Bryant's hearing on a charge of sexually assaulting a teenage hotel employee. He spoke to CNN Lou Dobbs shortly afterward.

DOBBS: Any surprises for you what you've witnessed?

TOOBIN: Well, it was advertised to be routine, and it was routine.

Although, I have to say, it was dramatic to see Kobe Bryant in that courtroom. He is a very familiar figure to most -- or any American. Certainly all sports fans. And to see him in that extremely uncomfortable position and looking not at all happy, not changing his expression once during the entire seven minutes and 30 seconds he was in that courtroom -- it underscored for me the gravity of the situation he finds himself in.

DOBBS: Gravity in that he could face as much as life in prison under Colorado law if -- depending upon the charges that are ultimately brought and the penalties that could follow. There was a surprise, at least to me, in that courtroom, Jeffrey, and that was the appointment of a special investigator. What do you make of that?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, I think this was a small example of why it pays to have extremely aggressive, competent defense attorneys. Because what they did was they took some arguably improper statements attributed to prosecutors and to the sheriff, and they said we want an investigation. We want to go forward.

Now, this is the kind of thing that goes on all the time in high-profile cases, these sorts of comments. But you know, oftentimes it's just sort of shrugged off. Here they have asked for an investigator. Now they've got one. They've got a sheriff who's going to interview everybody and talk -- and find out whether there's more to investigate.

This sheriff, who's from a neighboring county, will investigate and report back to the judge. Maybe there will be a hearing about these possible violations. Maybe there won't. But the wheels are churning now. Stuff is being churned up. And that's where defense attorneys flourish, in improvising, in finding out stuff that prosecutors didn't want to disclose necessarily. And the wheels are turning now. Perhaps it will add up to nothing. But it's a start.

DOBBS: ... this legal process begins in earnest. Your thoughts as we conclude our coverage.

TOOBIN: Well, it's just that, you know, so much of the coverage so far has been in the form of leaks and words, that investigators may or may not have disclosed. Come October 9, we're going to note some actual facts about what the case against Kobe Bryant is. And I think that's highly appropriate, that the action move into the courtroom as opposed to the back rooms where people may or may not be telling the truth to journalists.

DOBBS: You're not suggesting that we in the media will just simply defer to those courtrooms and the legal process without taking some small note of the proceedings, are you?

TOOBIN: Well, no. I think good information crowds out bad, and we'll have some good information come October 9. That's my hope, anyway, Lou.


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