Ruckriegle expresses reluctance

EAGLE, Colo. -- Bowing to the state and U.S. Supreme Courts,
the judge in the Kobe Bryant
sexual assault case reluctantly
decided Monday to release edited transcripts from a closed-door
hearing on the accuser's sex life and other evidence.

District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said he concluded he must
release the details despite concerns the move would "compromise
the rights of some of the participants" in the high-profile trial.

Details of the transcripts were not immediately available from a
court reporter or from a for-profit document Web site.

The documents were mistakenly e-mailed by a court reporter in
June to seven news organizations, including ESPN and The Associated Press.
The judge quickly threatened a contempt of court charge for any
organization that published details from the June 21-22 hearing.

The organizations complied, but challenged the order as an
unconstitutional prior restraint of a free press. The Colorado
Supreme Court conceded the order amounted to prior restraint, but
said it was allowable under the circumstances of the case.

The court, however, suggested Ruckriegle quickly decide whether
the details were admissable as evidence. U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Stephen Breyer agreed, urging the judge to release redacted copies
of the transcript if not the entire document.

"It is with great reluctance that this court releases these
transcripts," Ruckriegle wrote. "The effect of this release is to
present narrowly limited, one-side evidence and argument to the
public prior to the selection of a jury and without reference to
the totality of the evidence.

"This court has struggled for several weeks with the obvious
and conflicting convergence of rights presented by this

Bryant, 25, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault. The
Los Angeles Lakers star says he had consensual sex with a
19-year-old front desk worker at a Vail-area resort where he was
staying last summer.

If convicted, Bryant faces four years to
life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to