Craig's Court: How Slow Can You Go?

Posted Dec. 19, 2003

Now we know why Eagle County District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has his "Do not enter a plea" policy when a defendant first appears in his District Court. If Kobe Bryant had pleaded not guilty in November, speedy trial would have run in May. Given the glacial pace of today's proceedings, this case will be lucky to be tried by next summer.

One issue got resolved today. The judge is not going to investigate who disseminated the leak about the strange semen in the yellow underwear. Who can blame him for not wanting to get involved in that mess? After all, the alleged recipient of the leak is his predecessor Eagle County Judge Jones. There is enough for this judge to do without investigating these sideshow leaks.

Judge Ruckriegle is forced to play the role of parent to his fighting kids. Both sides want access to the same clothes. The defense wants to got a hold of the underwear and T-shirt that contain the evidence. The district attorney does not want to share or let go of their prized possessions. The D.A. will let Team Kobe come over to his house and look, but they cannot touch and they certainly don't want the defense to take their "stuff" out of his house.

Judge Ruckriegle wants to hear from Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents to learn why they won't be better sharers. Thus a delay.

As for those other troublesome T-shirts, the Kobe hangman jobs which were the subject of a prior Craig's Court, are bad news for the D.A. It turns out one of the possessors of that inflammatory piece of cotton was District Attorney Mark Hurlbert himself along with his chief deputy. It wasn't until recently they had the good sense to throw this awful attire in the trash. Perhaps this whole prosecution belongs in the same trash can.

The big fight has to do with media/public access to observing the witnesses on the waiver of medical privilege issue. Team Kobe is arguing that Kobe's accuser blabbed about her purported suicides enough to waive any right to confidentiality.

The law suggests they get a hearing to prove this tacit waiver of privilege. The law also suggests they will lose at that hearing. So what? Team Kobe will get witnesses' testimony locked in under oath. Information is the prized possession of trial attorneys.

Today however, the hearing never even started. The media wants to stay. The D.A. wants them to go. So does the accuser's lawyer. The media attorney said, "The cat is already out of the bag." Judge Ruckriegle said he has not read all the Kobe publications so he doesn't know what cats are on the loose. Who in his right mind has the time? Please stop pointing at me.

Judge Ruckriegle needs more facts. He needs more law. He would rather be right than fast. No decision now. Briefs to be submitted. Lots of delay.

Delay was the order of the day. The big beneficiary may be the Denver Nuggets. No way will Kobe get to play all of the game against our Nuggies tonight in L.A. Regardless, the Nuggets are a nine-point underdog to the Lakers. Right now, the Eagle County D.A. is a double digit underdog against the L.A. Laker against whom they are battling.

After the preliminary hearing, I said on Channel 7 that the D.A. has as good a chance to convict Kobe Bryant as the Nuggets have of winning the NBA championship. That does not mean acquittal. It just means that I don't see 12 people voting guilty given certain essential facts.

She knew Kobe was going to put the moves on. She went to his room. When she physically resisted, he stopped.

The motions will not change any of that. But they will take time. A lot of time. Maybe 'til 2005. Maybe by then, the Nuggets, given their rate of improvement, will be NBA champs.

Craig Silverman is a legal analyst for 7NEWS. He will be contributing his thoughts on the Kobe Bryant case in the months to come. He works for the downtown Denver law firm of Silverman and Olivas, P.C., which you can contact through their Web site or by calling (303) 595-0529. You can read Craig's bio here.

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