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Judge Seeks Edits of Transcripts

Both sides in Bryant case asked to help on version of hearing details in effort to resolve dispute.

July 28, 2004|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case asked the prosecution and defense Tuesday to work together to produce an edited version of disputed transcripts that can be released to the public.

The order came one day after Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer requested that trial Judge Terry Ruckriegle release redacted transcripts from a closed-door hearing on the alleged victim's sexual conduct that were accidentally e-mailed to seven news organizations.

Breyer suggested that Ruckriegle release an edited version of the transcripts today, thereby possibly averting a thorny decision by the high court on whether prohibiting publication of the entire transcript is a 1st Amendment violation.

Ruckriegle has threatened to cite any news organization that releases details from the e-mailed transcripts with contempt. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the ruling and the organizations -- including The Times -- appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Breyer denied the appeal only for 48 hours, enabling the news organizations to refile today. However, Breyer indicated the disagreement might be settled by releasing an edited version of the transcripts, which primarily address DNA evidence taken from the accuser at her medical examination the day after the June 30, 2003, alleged rape.

The Colorado attorney general's office, which has represented Ruckriegle in Supreme Court filings, asked the news organizations Tuesday to consent to a motion they intend to file with Breyer seeking an extension until Monday of the 48-hour deadline. Bryant will be in court for a pretrial hearing in Eagle County, Colo., on Friday, and Ruckriegle wants the prosecution and defense to propose at that time the form in which the transcripts could be released.

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman, then 19, at a mountain resort. The trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 27.

The deadline for a plea bargain is today, although the deadline has been extended twice.

Bryant's attorneys last weekend subpoenaed at least five students at the University of Northern Colorado, the school the accuser attended in 2002-03. Several of the accuser's classmates were among the more than two dozen witnesses who testified at closed hearings that explored the woman's sexual conduct, suicide attempts and use of drugs and alcohol.

In another ruling, Ruckriegle said he could not meet an Aug. 1 deadline to determine whether the trial would be televised because he is spending so much time "on issues raised in the Colorado and U.S. Supreme Court."

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