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Judge Stops Short Of Gag Order In Kobe Bryant Case

Aired July 24, 2003 - 19:19   ET


New developments tonight in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case. The judge is putting the brakes on media coverage.

Court TV's Lisa Bloom standing by to tell us what all that means. But we begin with Rusty Dornin, who joins us now from Eagle, Colorado, with all the latest -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the judge in this case, of course, is very concerned about preserving a fair trial for Kobe Bryant. So he's basically telling everyone who is directly involved in the case not to talk to the media.

A few hours ago, he issued this order. It stops just short of being a gag order. He doesn't call it a protective order. He calls it an order for pretrial publicity, but basically he's telling prosecution, defense, law enforcement, the court staff and even potential witnesses in this case to not discuss the evidence in this case.

Meantime, here in the community of Eagle and in the Vail Valley, there has been a lot of restriction on what's been leaking out anyway. The parents of the alleged victim have told her friends not to speak to the media.

And also, we know of at least three hotels who have had employees who also work at the Cordillera, the spa where the incident occurred, to not speak to the media or they will be fired.

Now another report that we did confirm today out of Greeley, Colorado, where the alleged victim went to school at the University of Northern Colorado, the chief of police on the campus there says on the 25th of February they received a call to come to the room of the young woman, the accuser of Kobe Bryant.

They determined that she was a danger to herself. They took her into custody and took her to a medical facility. That's basically all they would tell us.

What's interesting about that is that about four months later in June, similar dispatch here where apparently she had an overdose of pills. So a lot going on here.

Also, the defense has sent some investigators into town, combing the town to talk to people to find out more about this young woman.

But right now, there's going to be a lot harder to get any information out with this protective order out -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Rusty. Rusty Dornin with the latest. Thanks very much.

And here now with her take on the judge's decision to limit coverage is Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.

Lisa, thanks for being with us.

It's not quite a gag order, just a protective order?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: It's not a gag order. It's not even a protective order. The judge is essentially saying to the attorneys comply with your ethical obligations that are already in place under Colorado law.

Don't comment on the evidence. Don't opine on the guilt or innocence of Kobe Bryant. Don't disseminate information. Attorneys already have that obligation. But he's taking it a step further and applying is it to non-attorneys, as well, court personnel, law enforcement, essentially saying don't put any information out there.

COOPER: But why doesn't he just do a gag order?

BLOOM: Well, he could. A gag order would be one step further, like we've seen in the Scott Peterson case, where essentially all of the attorneys are gagged in that case. They cannot talk at all.

In the Kobe Bryant case they can still talk. They can say, for example, a motion is scheduled for such and such a date, August 6th Kobe Bryant will appear. They could explain to the media what that's about.

And we've seen both sides last week in the press conferences talking to the media and complying with their ethical obligations anyway. Mark Hurlbert for the prosecution very studiously avoided any questions about the facts in the case. Pam Mackey, same thing. Did not answer questions about the facts.

COOPER: A lot of people calling Kobe Bryant's attorneys the dream team. I mean, obviously we all know where that comes from. But from everything I read about them, they're not really the type to be giving a lot of press conference, to be standing in the courthouse steps every day, opining to the media.

BLOOM: Hal Haddon, Pam Mackey for the defense. Clearly, the most prominent defense attorneys in the state of Colorado.

COOPER: JonBenet Ramsey's...

BLOOM: That's right. John and Patsy Ramsey were their most famous clients, never charged, certainly never convicted of any crimes. Many people credit them for that. There's also a very high profile skier case in Colorado that Pam Mackey was involved in and ironically, Mark Hurlbert, the prosecutor in the Kobe Bryant case, also involved in that. So these attorneys know each other...

COOPER: They also represented Hunter S. Thompson.

BLOOM: Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, who you know, apparently didn't commit any crimes, as far as I know, or at least was never charged. So that was successful.

COOPER: Yes. But yes, they're certainly within Colorado extremely well known, extremely well respected.

BLOOM: Very well known and they certainly did a terrific job at the press conference last week.

COOPER: What do you make now about this report that CNN has confirmed, the police went to this young woman's campus, apparently brought her to some sort of medical attention? Is that ever going to make it into court? Does that even matter?

BLOOM: Well, it's certainly sad, isn't it? She's a college freshman. She seems to be suffering from depression, seems to have that problem.

But the question in court is, is it going to be relevant and relevant to what? Is it relevant to the question of whether she was raped or not? That's her allegation. Is it relevant to her credibility?

And I go back to the fact that millions of Americans suffer from depression. It's a chemical disorder. It's not a character defect, and it certainly doesn't make someone more or less likely to lie.

Those are going to be the issues before the judge in deciding whether it comes in at trial. That will be decided months and months from now.

COOPER: But with the additional information, keep in mind, that you do now have detectives on behalf of the defense combing this area, according to Rusty Dornin. I mean, that is certainly something they're going to zero in on.

BLOOM: Absolutely. And detectives associated with the defense, certainly Kobe Bryant have millions of dollars to spend on the best of detectives to dig up dirt on this woman.

Probably detectives hired by the media, certainly the tabloid media, is going to have people all over, offering money for people's stories. So there are a lot of people out there with interest in getting information on this victim. But it doesn't necessarily mean that it will come in at trial.

COOPER: And that's where it matters. Lisa Bloom, thanks very much.

BLOOM: Thank you.


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