The L.A. Times reports that Kobe Bryant's "star is rising" again. He has regained his Nike endorsements.
So last week's ad represented something more than just a sleek pitch for sneakers. With its striking approach -- as if Bryant were facing his detractors, at least in basketball terms -- marketing experts say it was a canny means of testing the waters of public opinion, if not a first step in rebuilding the player's image.
"I think enough time has passed," said Doug Shabelman, senior vice president of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing in Evanston, Ill. "And the way they used him in the ad - it's a muted advertisement. It's quiet, calm."
The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault objects. I think it's appropriate. Kobe was never convicted of a crime and the accuser's story had more holes than swiss cheese. He should not be penalized any more. The accuser got her money in the civil action, why shouldn't he get his? At least he works for it.
More on the Nike endorsement here.
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MSNBC reports that Kobe Bryant and his accuser have settled their civil lawsuit...in time for Kobe to avoid being deposed on Friday. Smart move by both. Kobe can afford to settle and the accuser, now married and expecting, needs to get past whatever happened that night and move on with her life.
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Everyone is very Kobe Byranted out, I'm sure, but this is really fascinating. The Los Angeles Times, in a long investigative piece based upon statements by prosecutors and the accuser's civil lawyers, as opposed to anonymous sources or legal analysts, reports that the accuser performed so badly during a cross-examination at a mock trial held just a few weeks before the scheduled start of the real trial, that both prosecutors and her civil lawyers knew she had to fold.
It tells the story behind the apology negotiations, conducted by her civil lawyers and local defense lawyers who were on the team but not members of Haddon and Mackey's firm; the bitter feuds between the prosecutors which left two of them not speaking up to the week the trial was set to begin and the details of the mock cross that was devasting for the accuser. Almost all of the quotes are from the prosecutors and civil lawyers involved.
The only lawyers not commenting are Pam Mackey and Hal Haddon, who have consistently refused to speak with the press, citing ethical reaons. This article sounds like a prelude to a book on the case, and for once, much of what the reporters say rings true.
After a year of everyone who cared to already knowing her identity, the accuser in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case has made her identity public--because the federal judge presiding over her civil lawsuit for damages against Kobe ruled she had to in order to bring her lawsuit.
A federal judge had ruled that the woman must be publicly identified in the case as a matter of fairness. A Denver newspaper gave a similar reason when it published the woman's name in Friday editions.
"Until now, the News has exercised its editorial judgment and has not named Bryant's accuser despite the fact that her name was widely known," Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple said in the story. "But today we are naming her, after she made the decision Thursday to refile her lawsuit in her own name seeking money damages against Bryant."
Other news organizations are continuing to withhold her name. TalkLeft believes the Rocky Mountain News made the correct decision in publishing her name and that other news organizations should follow suit. She has never been found to be a victim. It may be that Kobe is the victim. Let it all come out in the civil suit. Deference to the woman over Kobe is no longer appropriate given her decision to refuse to testify at his trial.
Some thoughts on the dismissal of the Kobe Bryant case, and predictions:
- It's best for Kobe and the accuser. Finally, their dirty laundry will be kept out of our living rooms.
- The civil suit may be on the precipe of being settled. Condition precedent from the accuser: Kobe must make a suitable public apology before she agrees to bow out of the criminal case.
- A week ago, the sides were too far apart on the wording of the apology. Jury selection moved forward. The apology got better and the latest mistake of the jury questionnaire gives the accuser cover to say that was the final straw.
- The loser: The Eagle County District Attorney's Office. It bowed to public pressure to bring the charge after a local sheriff precipitously obtained an arrest warrant, without conducting an adequate investigation into the facts. They lost control of the case. The defense trounced them with good lawyering.
- Judge Terry Ruckriegle is to be commended. He ruled fairly with well-reasoned opinions. He kept order in the courtroom. Mistakes by court personnel were just that, mistakes.
- Colorado's rape shield statute worked in this case. Evidence of the accuser's prior sexual history would not have come into evidence. Only evidence of her contemporaneous sexual activity, within 72 hours of her rape exam, was ruled admissible.
I'll be doing a live chat on the case for the Washington Post at 11 am ET.
Update: Transcript of chat is here.
Kobe Bryant has issued this statement. It's contrite. I think we can expect a settlement of the civil case shortly.
"I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colo.
Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.
I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado."
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Final Update: 6:30 pm: From Court TV: Case dismissed, with prejudice. Kobe was not present in court. His lawyers said he agreed with the decision, he thanks the judge, he says he does believe he could have gotten a fair trial. The prosecution said the case is being dropped for one reason only: the accuser said she will not cooperate with the prosecution. The DA's, prosecutors, civil lawyers and the accusers parents were present for the dismissal hearing. Kobe was not, nor was the accuser.
There is no civil settlement, according to her lawyers. The civil case will proceed. For now. There is nothing to prevent a civil settlement from happening later tonight, or tomorrow.
Now back to convention coverage.
Update: Still no news from the courthouse. But the Vail Daily reports:
Kobe Bryant's alleged victim has reportedly said if there was one more mistake by the courts she was "out." On Friday, that breach happened when the jury questionnaire was leaked to KCNC Channel 4 television, Denver's CBS affiliate. On Wednesday, in the early afternoon, the alleged victim, through her attorneys, notified prosecutors she was out of the case. The move comes on the heels of a defense motion to dismiss the case. Bryant's defense attorneys said in their motion that prosecutors withheld a medical report they say would exonerate their client. 6:23 pm MT
Update: Court officials say an open court session in the Kobe Bryant case will begin at 5:45 p.m.
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Big, big Kobe case news. Reports are that the Prosecution will drop the sexual assault charge against Kobe Bryant tomorrow morning. Huge win for Kobe and his defense team. And the right decision.
The defense is charging the prosecution is still hiding evidence favorable to Kobe Bryant and has asked the Judge to dismiss the case:
In a motion made public Wednesday, defense attorneys said a forensics expert whom prosecutors had planned to call as a witness had information that "undermined the accuser's allegations and the prosecution's case, and corroborated Mr. Bryant's defense on a central issue -- the cause and significance of the accuser's alleged injuries."
The filing said those opinions were not disclosed to the defense until they contacted the expert Friday, despite repeated requests to prosecutors for the information. Prosecutors have said they have turned over all information they were required to. The judge gave prosecutors until Tuesday -- the day opening statements are scheduled to begin -- to respond to the defense motion.
"A person's life and liberty are at stake," the defense attorneys wrote. "The game of hide-the-ball, find-it-if-you-can discovery is intolerable."
Another sign of disarray in the Kobe Bryant prosecution. Prosecutors told the Judge today, during jury selection, they are seeking to have private lawyer Joyce Seelen deputized as a deputy district attorney and added to the prosecution team for trial.
Seelen is a civil attorney whose specialty is representing alleged sexual assault victims who claim to be abused by persons in a position of trust--their parents, psychiatrists, priests.
Prosecutors say Seelen has been working behind the scenes on the case for a while. They just want to bring her officially on board now. At this late date?
Will they even be able to seat a jury? No one knows, as jury selection continues --but at least today the Judge said he will open questioning to the public, over prosecutor's objections.
A good ruling by Judge Ruckriegle in the Kobe Bryant case. There will be no video cameras allowed during trial testimony. Still photos will be allowed during opening and closing arguments and audio and videotaping will be allowed only during closing arguments.
For once, the prosecution, accuser and defense were on the same side. All opposed cameras in the courtroom. Jury selection begins Friday and trial testimony is set to begin September 7.
The Aspen Daily News is sticking by its policy of refusing to cover the case --it will only report the outcome when it's over. That's dumb. There are legitimate journalistic issues in the trial--such as the legalities and politics involved in raising a consent defense to a sexual assault charge--and in how courts handle high-profile cases.
Here's notice to TalkLeft readers that TalkLeft has been granted press credentials to cover the trial, and will report on major developments and perhaps provide a short daily trial summary with links to what I consider the better news articles. TalkLeft will not be all Kobe all the time or slack off on its regular coverage.
Having covered the Democratic Convention as a credentialed blogger, it occurred to me, why stop there? So, TalkLeft applied for a press pass to cover the Kobe Bryant trial in Eagle. I received this e-mail today:
Good Afternoon Jeralyn, Your application has been approved and is good to go. Credentials are available for pick up on the Justice Center grounds beginning at 7:15 a.m. each morning on days when proceedings are scheduled. You must present a photo identification to receive your credential. Credentials are valid for the duration of the proceedings in this case.
Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. TalkLeft has followed every development in the Kobe Bryant case since the date his arrest was announced. I'm a frequent commentator on the case on TV, and often quoted on it in national newspapers. But still, this is not a credential that's attached to any of the networks or newspapers -- it's in my name for TalkLeft. I think it's very cool.
It may not make bloggers journalists, but it does confirm we're media.
The New York Times reports on the toll the Kobe Bryant case is taking on Judge Terry Ruckriegle.
...its burdens have taken a toll on the judge, say acquaintances and lawyers who have worked in his courtroom over the years. Usually by this point in the summer, they say, the 56-year-old judge - an avid biker, hiker, camper and hunter in the mountains around his home in Breckenridge - would be at his lean and tan fittest. This summer, they say, he has been a shadow, often seen working at his office late at night and on weekends, or commuting to the courthouse in Eagle, 90 minutes away, where the Bryant case has unfolded.
"I haven't seen him on his bicycle once all summer, and he is as pale as I've ever seen him," said Dave Drawbert, a friend and local lawyer in Breckenridge. "I told him this case wouldn't be good for his health or his family, but his sense of duty prevailed."
But what a difference a day makes.
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The trial judge in the Kobe Bryant case denied the prosecution's request for a trial delay today. Jury selection is set to begin August 27. He also denied a defense request to admit evidence of the accuser's alleged suicide attempts and alcohol, drug and medication usage--or her mental health issues.
The timing is curious. The prosecution requests a trial delay based in part on the fact that the Judge hadn't ruled on the defense request to admit the mental health and medication evidence, saying it needed more time to prepare for trial if this evidence was going to come in. The Judge was able to refute the prosecution's need for a delay by ruling the evidence couldn't come in.
The prosecution's request was a bogus one. It didn't need more time to prepare its case if this evidence came in. It would have come in through defense witnesses after the prosecution rested. The prosecution is well aware of the defense witnesses on the topic and should have been prepared to cross-examine them at trial. Or to have its own experts ready in rebuttal.
Also, the prosecution made a lame argument that releasing the one-sided transripts of the accuser's alleged post-Kobe but pre-rape exam sexual activity prejudiced its case. What the district attorney avoids mentioning is that at that hearing, it had the opportunity to cross-examine the defense expert on the issue--and chose not to--despite having two of its own experts present in the courtroom (pdf). So the reason the transcript was one-sided is because that is the strategic choice made by the prosecution.
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Update: The accuser's lawyer sought advice on filing a civil suit over a year ago--from former NY sex crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein:
But a civil action has also apparently been contemplated for much longer than only a few days. One of the woman's lawyers, John C. Clune, who filed the civil suit, called a prominent former sex crimes prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, more than a year ago to solicit her advice about a possible civil case, Ms. Fairstein said in an interview today.
Ms. Fairstein, who led the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's office for 26 years, said that Mr. Clune had not asked that their conversation be kept confidential. But she said that she had not publicly discussed her two conversations with Mr. Clune in July 2003 until a reporter contacted her this afternoon seeking her views on the lawsuit. Mr. Clune did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Kobe Bryant's accuser had made good on her intentions and filed a civil suit for compensatory and punitive damages against him in federal court. In the lawsuit, she describes the encounter with Kobe as a rape, similarly to the way the prosecution in the criminal case does.
What does the filing of the civil suit mean? For one, it's more fodder for Kobe's lawyers on cross-examination of the accuser--now there is no question she is after big bucks. It may make the criminal case less likely to go forward. It gives the prosecution an out--they may say her reluctance to continue to participate in the criminal case combined with her filing a suit for money reduces the chances of a conviction. Well, the chances were only borderline before, so who can blame them if they bail?
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Kobe Bryant's accuser wants the gag order lifted on her lawyers. The lawyers argue the gag order prevents them from criticizing the court for mistakenly releasing her name and a transcript in which a defense expert testified she believed the accuser had sex in the 13 hour period between her encounter with Kobe and her rape exam.
The lawyers really want to tell her story--not just criticize the court. With the trial being so close, the gag order is appropriate. The accuser is the complaining witness. Her story should be told in the courtroom, not on television. If Kobe's lawyers can abide by the gag order, and they have, scrupulously so, the accuser should be held to the same standard. The Prosecution speaks for the accuser in their pleadings. How many mouthpieces does she need?
By statute, the accuser has the right to be treated with fairness. But Kobe's constitutional right to a fair trial is paramount. Her lawyers' motion is replete with references to Kobe as the "rapist" and the accuser as the "victim." She's an alleged victim. He's a defendant, not a rapist, and he's presumed innocent. Her lawyers are grandstanding to prejudice the jury pool. Their request should be denied.
In other Kobe news today, the Judge has rejected a request by the accuser's lawyers that the Court cease posting documents online at the court's web site. Another correct ruling.
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