Craig's Court: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted Dec. 15, 2003

The long awaited flurry of motions in the Kobe Bryant case have arrived. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are just ugly. Check them out for yourself at the court's Web site.

Because I am in trial myself, I can offer you only my initial and brief impressions. The good defense motion has to do with the trickery employed by the Eagle County investigators when they showed up at Cordillera in the wee hours of the morning on July 2, 2003. They had a signed order from a judge authorizing them to take Kobe Bryant into custody for the limited purpose of a sex assault exam. Custodial interrogation means Miranda warnings need to be given. They also had obtained a signed search warrant for Kobe Bryant's Room No. 35.

However, when Detective Doug Winters found Kobe Bryant in the central area of Cordillera, he did not let his target know about all the stuff hidden in his pockets. The detective did not let Kobe know about the tape recorder which was turned on and was hidden in his shirt pocket. The deceptive detective also failed to tell Mr. Bryant about the signed search warrant in his pants pocket. Nor did he tell the L.A. Laker about the signed court order allowing the police to take Kobe into custody for a rape examination of his body.

A person is entitled to Miranda warnings when they are subjected to custodial interrogation. No such warnings were given. An order allowing the police to take a person into custody for non-testimonial identification evidence has certain restrictions. No testimonial evidence is supposed to be obtained. These orders are supposed to be executed during daylight, not in the dark of night as occurred here. Suffice it to say there are enough good issues in this motion to make for an excellent final exam question in an advanced law school criminal procedure class.

As for the bad motion, Team Kobe asks Judge Ruckreigle to throw out Colorado's rape shield law as unconstitutional. In the famous words of the first President Bush, "Not gonna happen."

Fifty states have these laws and they have all been upheld as has Colorado's before. I don't blame Team Kobe for raising the issue. Their motion points out the disparity and double standard of Colorado law which makes evidence of his inappropriate prior sexual conduct presumptively admissible, while the law makes evidence of her inappropriate prior sexual activity presumptively inadmissible. The key point on the constitutional issue however is that Team Kobe can and will attempt to admit evidence of her sexual activity under one of the many exceptions to the rape shield law.

Now for the ugly. We knew Team Kobe would employ a "nut and slut" defense but now we know more about some of the specifics. They have evidence she was on an anti-psychotic drug and they want the jury to hear about it. Team Kobe also wants the jury to know that this false rape report, just like her purported (and reported) suicide attempts on Feb. 23 and May 30, 2003 were the alleged victim's attempts to regain the attention and affections of her ex-boyfriend.

It is fascinating that Judge Ruckreigle allowed this motion to be published on the Web. It will take weeks to litigate all of these motions and more such motions will be filed down the road. Will the public and press be allowed to witness this litigation? There will be a battle about that but the judge's publication of the motion may give a hint at the public access he will allow.

Team Kobe put a lot of good hard work and legal thinking into these motions. Some are designed to win in court. Others are designed in part to influence the court of public opinion. Perhaps the biggest obstacles Team Kobe now faces in that effort are Saddam Hussein, Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson. There is only so much on which the American public can concentrate.

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.

Previous Entries:

Print this article Back to Top