lot will be written about Kobe Bean Bryant in the wake of his fifth
NBA championship with the Lakers. Bryant is a phenomenal hoopster.
Who knows what more this 31 year old will accomplish in basketball and
Kobe Bryant moves forward, with his wife
Vanessa and daughters
at his side, I think it important to recall a time when life treated
the Bryants unfairly. Kobe Bryant should never have been
prosecuted for sexual assault in Colorado.
Hindsight on this matter is indeed twenty-twenty.
write this with absolute certainty even though I have never been to The Lodge and Spa
It was there in Room 35 on July 1, 2003 that Bryant, in town for knee
surgery, had sexual intercourse with a woman who worked at Cordillera.
I don't know with certainty what happened in Bryant's hotel room,
but I do know what happened in the Eagle County Colorado courtroom.
The misbegotten litigation correctly culminated in the dismissal
of the prosecution on September 1, 2004.
criminal case against Kobe Bryant should have been rejected earlier. As a TV and radio legal analyst,
and blogged the preliminary
hearing and other court proceedings. For sixteen years, I worked as
a Denver prosecutor and specialized, among
other things, in convicting rapists.
is an abomination. So is a false accusation of rape. It is not politically correct to
talk about. But false
claims of sexual assault occur.
It is essential that prosecutors respect the rights of the accuser,
but also the rights of the accused.
the Kobe Bryant accusation, the Duke
Lacrosse rape accusations
were falsely made in 2006 by Crystal
Gail Mangum and now disgraced DA Mike Nifong.
What are the obligations of prosecutors when such a harsh and damaging
accusation is made against prominent athletes, or any person?
the constitutional presumption of innocence should be truly honored.
A DA should consider the known history of the accused. Consider
if the accused is a flight risk. Kobe Bryant can fly to the hoop,
but there was never any chance he was going to become a fugitive.
Prosecutors should also ponder whether they just might be getting used
as part of some
extrinsic psychological or other need motivating the accuser. Take your time. Investigate
the facts. That should include learning about the accuser.
Hurlbert is the Eagle County
District Attorney who made the bad call against Kobe Bryant. Eagle
County law enforcement could have investigated more before subjecting
Bryant and his family to the ignominy of arrest and prosecution.
the arrest, prosecution, and bad pub for Bryant, his accuser had the ammunition she needed to get paid.
Her lawyers, an
ex-Eagle County prosecutor
and nationally famous
co-counsel, were able
to extract an undisclosed civil settlement. Even if she
deserved money, Kobe Bryant should not have been prosecuted for rape.
If you don't believe me, rely on the politically
ambitious Hurlbert and
the woman, who together agreed that the
prosecution needed to stop.
mixing of criminal and civil justice is frequently troublesome. As
a Colorado civil trial lawyer, I
know that it is unethical to threaten criminal prosecution if civil
monetary demands are not met. This ethical
prohibition is especially
interesting in light of the mixed
criminal and civil liability of British Petroleum and the actions of
the White House this
am still not sure whether Kobe Bryant is a good or bad person.
He is probably somewhere in between, like most of us. Bryant's immense
will to win in basketball, and his skill to get it done, are fantastic
to behold. I am old enough now to realize that athletic genius
hardly correlates with moral superiority. I am glad that eight
years ago, my wife Trish stopped us from naming our second son Tiger Kobe.
Colorado media observers might recall that the Kobe Bryant prosecution
brought about the Caplis
and Silverman Show.
the NBA game five OJ - Bronco chase
sixteen years ago, Dan Caplis and I have been media legal analysts.
TV and radio pundits, Dan and I each covered big cases
including Columbine, the Oklahoma
City Bombing trial and JonBenet. But it was the Kobe Bryant prosecution
that led to our provocative back and forth about the merits of that
case, and landed us our award
winning and nationally acclaimed afternoon drive time show back in 2004.
Thank you Kobe Bryant. Thank you Mark Hurlbert.
who served as Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Labor, once asked where he
could go to get his reputation back after being acquitted at trial.
How does Kobe Bryant get his
reputation back? The self-described Black
Mamba has provided his
own answers. He goes to the three point line, to the rim, and
to the free throw line. He goes to get his awards with his wife and
darling daughters at his side.
Bryant's life story will be told through the ages. When that
history is told, it should be revealed that the criminal case, People of
the State of Colorado v. Kobe Bean Bryant, 03CR204, should have never happened.