Thursday, December 18, 2003
Updated: December 19, 10:33 AM ET
Defense claims accuser waived privacy rights
EAGLE, Colo. -- Kobe Bryant's attorneys want acquaintances and the mother of the woman accusing him of rape to testify today at a hearing in which they will try to convince a judge her medical records can be used as evidence.
In a court filing Thursday, defense attorney Pamela Mackey said the woman discussed her
medical condition and medications with a detective investigating
the case -- a move that constitutes a waiver of her privacy rights.
Today's hearing begins at 11 a.m. ET. Bryant arrived at the courthouse at about 10:30 ET.
Legal experts say the defense is hoping to undermine the
19-year-old's credibility by proving she has mental problems that
might have affected her perception of what happened in a hotel room
with the NBA star last June.
The medical records and patient confidentiality are at the heart
of Friday's hearing, the first in which evidence in the case will
be discussed in detail. The defense witness list is sealed, but
prosecutors have confirmed the accuser's mother was subpoenaed to
appear. At least one friend also has been subpoenaed.
An attorney for Bryant's accuser has asked the judge to close
the courtroom for any testimony regarding her medical history.
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has not ruled on the request.
Bryant, the 25-year-old star guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if
convicted of felony sexual assault. Bryant, who has said the sex
was consensual, is required to appear at Friday's hearing. The
Lakers play at home Friday night.
Analysts said the defense needs to do everything it can to
undermine the woman's credibility at trial.
"The prosecution is desperate to say in closing, 'Why would
this woman make it up?' All the defense is doing is saying, 'Judge,
don't tie our hands behind our back, we want to give an answer,'"
said Denver attorney Larry Pozner, former president of the Colorado
Criminal Defense Bar.
Among the records the defense wants to use are documents from
the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, where authorities
brought the woman in February 2003 after determining she was a "danger
Defense attorneys Pamela Mackey and Hal Haddon have argued the
woman tried to kill herself in February and again in May to get the
attention of her ex-boyfriend. They also say she had been
prescribed an anti-psychotic drug.
The defense also wants access to notes taken during an interview
of the woman by a worker for the Resource Center of Eagle County, a
rape victim's advocacy group.On Thursday, the judge granted a request for a hearing on whether
those records can be released to the defense. He did not set a date
for the hearing.
Bryant's attorneys could have a hard time obtaining the medical
records: Under a 2002 Colorado Supreme Court decision, the records
cannot even be reviewed by a judge in private unless the patient
consents. In the Bryant case, the woman has not allowed the
hospital to release any records.
The defense could have a better shot at obtaining notes taken by
the rape counselor. Attorneys for the Resource Center of Eagle
County have said the notes consist of a single sentence written by
the advocate after she sat in on a police interview with the
Bryant's defense team is likely to win access to those notes
because they were taken in the presence of law enforcement
officers, Denver defense attorney Scott Robinson said.
In a side issue, prosecutor Mark Hurlbert also wants the judge
to order an investigation to determine who gave the media sealed
information regarding another man's semen found in underwear the
woman wore to a hospital the day after the alleged attack.
The hearing is expected to last all day and dozens of reporters
and television camera crews have again arrived in this small 30
miles west of the Vail ski resort. There is no indication when the
judge will rule.
A Jan. 23 hearing has been scheduled to hear arguments about
other issues in the case, including a defense request to throw out
statements Bryant made to investigators that were secretly taped
before he had been read his Miranda rights.