Judge OKs cameras for Bryant hearing

Saturday, July 26, 2003

EAGLE, Colo. -- News cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom at Kobe Bryant's hearing on a sexual assault charge on Aug. 6, a judge ruled Friday.

A live audio feed will also be permitted, Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett said. He placed no restrictions on what the cameras could record.

Gannett's order allows one pool TV camera and one pool still photographer in the courtroom.

The Los Angeles Lakers star guard was charged with felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old woman told authorities he attacked her at an Edwards resort June 30. Bryant said the sex was consensual.

He is free on $25,000 bail.

Bryant may not be required to attend the hearing but is expected to, said Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. She said officials will know in advance whether he will be there.

Bryant's attorney did not return an after-hours call seeking comment.

The hearing is to formally advise Bryant of the charge and the possible sentence he faces if convicted, and could include a discussion of whether to change his bail.

Chief Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle, who oversees the courthouse, has not ruled on a media request to station pool cameras in a hallway outside the courtroom and at the courthouse entrance.

Representatives from the county, the town and the district attorney's office met Friday morning with Ruckriegle to discuss that request and other arrangements for the flood of reporters and television crews covering the hearing.

About 25 television satellite trucks are expected to arrive the day before the hearing, about 10 more than were present when Hurlbert announced on July 18 he was filing charges.

Ruckriegle wants to limit the number of trucks in the court's small parking lot, said Christine Yuhas, administrator for the 5th Judicial District, which includes Eagle and three other mountain counties.

"It's just a normal community and we do have normal business that we have to keep going," Yuhas said.

Officials are also considering how to accommodate all the reporters and members of the public who want to be in the courtroom for Bryant's first appearance since his July 4 arrest.

The largest courtroom in the building at the edge of town accommodates 68 people. The courtrooms were designed to handle typical small town court cases, such as traffic offenses and domestic violence, Yuhas said.

Assistant County Administrator Becky Goddel said officials have no estimate of how many people will show up for the hearing but said allowing television coverage should help prevent large crowds.

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