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Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Judge tells sides to limit info in public filings

Associated Press

DENVER -- Before the month is out, NBA star Kobe Bryant will probably have to answer the first official questions about his assault case since talking with investigators the night after he was accused of rape in 2003.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch on Wednesday pushed attorneys for the Los Angeles Lakers guard and the 20-year-old woman to schedule Bryant's deposition before the end of February. He also said he hoped the woman's civil lawsuit against Bryant will go to trial this summer.

The woman sued Bryant in August, three weeks before the criminal case against him collapsed when she decided she could not take part in a trial. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for mental injuries, humiliation and public scorn that the former hotel worker said she has suffered since their encounter in June 2003 at a Vail-area resort.

Bryant, a married father of one, issued an apology but insisted the sex was consensual.

The hearing was the second before Matsch, who also chastised both sides for attacking each other and disclosing too much detail about the high-profile case in court filings. Bryant did not attend, but the woman watched the proceedings from a seat between her two attorneys.

The woman, who is pregnant, left the courthouse holding hands with her husband. Defense attorney L. Lin Wood declined to reveal the man's name or details of the marriage, except to say it happened last fall. He would not discuss the pregnancy.

Defense attorney Pamela Mackey said she would agree to schedule Bryant's deposition soon, but accused the woman's attorneys of dragging their feet on her requests for information such as her medical and educational records.

Matsch has not yet ruled on her request to order that information to be turned over to the defense. Wood said he was working to obtain releases for information he considered relevant to the lawsuit.

The judge also ordered the attorneys to stop including "immaterial, impertinent and scandalous" information in public filings. He said he was tired of seeing information that should be kept under wraps.

"The court is not involved in the entertainment business," said Matsch, the no-nonsense judge who handled the federal Oklahoma City bombing trials. "It is to be expected that everything that is done here is done consistently with the rules and with a sense of decorum and decency."

Outside court, Wood said he agreed with Matsch that the sides must limit what they include in public filings.

"Too much has been filed that had no business being filed. The court system should not be a public relations machine," he said. Defense attorneys declined comment.

Matsch threw out a defense request to spread the blame for the harm the woman claims to have suffered. Bryant's attorneys wanted to argue that news organizations, including The Associated Press, the state court system and people who threatened the woman were also liable.