Back in the mid 1980's, as we began to argue lots of motions in the highly charged death penalty case against Frank Rodriguez in Denver District Court, I told District Court Judge Connie Peterson the following:
"This reminds me of one of my favorite childhood movies."
"What is that?" The judge queried.
I responded, "101 dull motions."
Motions practice can be quite tedious. In the Kobe Bryant case, it can be anticipated that several dozen motions will be filed before it is all over. Some of them will be trivial. Others will be critical. A few have the potential to be highly entertaining.
There will be one heck of a rape shield hearing but we will not see it or hear it or even read about it. The private nature of those proceedings is dictated by statute.
Yesterday, the prosecution requested that all motions in this case be private.
How then will the public know what is going on in our courts? Expect the media attorneys to argue like crazy against this kind of procedure. It all comes down to balancing the public's right to know against the parties' right to a fair trial. Judge Ruckreigle and the appellate courts will decide who wins that battle.
One of the most interesting pending motions concerns a request by the prosecution for a special investigation of how sensitive private information became known to the media.
The subject matter was the alleged leak regarding strange semen on the alleged victim's underwear. You will recall that several days before we heard at preliminary hearing about the unidentified non-Kobe semen stain on the yellow underwear, the New York Daily News quoted a retired Eagle County Judge William Jones claiming that the defense had evidence of semen not belonging to Kobe Bryant on the underwear which she wore to the hospital. The New York Daily News quoted Judge Jones as telling them that he got the information from his friend and Kobe Bryant attorney Hal Haddon.
That caused the prosecution to request an investigation into the actions of Hal Haddon. Hal Haddon responded with a blistering letter claiming he had nothing to do with it. (*See Haddon press release to Channel 7 below). An interesting legal fight was shaping up as of the end of October. However, now in mid-November, both sides have backed off. As I told Peggy Lowe of the Rocky Mountain News, for awhile, it looked like Team Kobe was going to counterpunch hard in response to DA Hurlbert's claims. Yesterday's filing shows that Team Kobe is backing away.
Team Kobe is now saying, '"We have better things to do than find out the truth about this sideshow issue." The lawyers were about to engage in a sideshow fistfight, but with the last two pleadings, they have both retreated into their corners.
The truth about this leak may never be known. If all the motions are done in private, few of us will know much about anything. Unless, of course, there are leaks. The public is better served when the media can report the facts rather than rely on leaks.
Press release from Hal Haddon, co-counsel for Kobe Bryant
BRYANT ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE TO PRESS INQUIRES CONCERNING DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S MOTION SEEKING AN INVESTIGATION AND SANCTIONS CONCERNING PRETRIAL PUBLICITY ORDER
Numerous press inquires have been received seeking comment on the DA's Motion seeking an investigation and sanctions against the undersigned. Attached to this press release is a copy of a letter which was telefaxed to DA Mark Hurlbert today in response to the claims he made in the motion. Defense counsel has requested that Mr. Hurlbert withdraw his motion. He has refused. The defendant will, therefore, file a response to the motion in due course.
Copy of letter to Hurlbert from Haddon:
Dear Mr. Hurlbert,I have received your motion dated Oct. 21, 2003 which seeks an investigation and/or sanctions against me for statements you incorrectly claim I made to a retired Eagle County District Judge, William Jones.Your motion states that "obviously Mr. Haddon could not be interviewed" about the allegations in your motion, although you tasked your investigator (Mr. Sandberg) with interviewing Judge Jones and a reporter from the New York Daily News. Had you contacted me or Ms. Mackey, as we did you when your spokesperson leaked information about subpoenas which had not yet been served, we may have been able to resolve the matter without your scurrilous motion.
You may recall that we accepted your apology for that leak from your office and took no formal action. For the record, I have not seen or spoken to Judge Jones since I last appeared in his court, which was probably sometime in the 1980 s. I Have not discussed the Bryant case with him and have certainly not authorized him to "disseminate by means of public communication" any information concerning the case. Apparently Judge Jones gave your investigator the same information and I would have been happy to do so had you handled the matter in a professional manner. We do not think this side show warrants another "investigation." However, if one is ordered we will ask that any investigation include other leaks-including dissemination of inaccurate information in an attempt to minimize the night auditor's observations and the premature leaking of your intent to file this motion.
The latter leak was aired on Oct. 16, 2003 on FOX News at about 3 pm. A transcript of that news account, which is attached for your reference, states as follows: "FOX News has learned that DA investigators have been out, looking into who has leaked, if they did at all, and when. And deciding when to file a motion, requesting an inquiry." The FOX New account was aired five days prior to the date of your motion, so there are obvious leaks in your office which you may wish to address.