DENVER -- Before the month is out, NBA star Kobe Bryant will
probably have to answer the first official questions about his
assault case since talking with investigators the night after he
was accused of rape in 2003.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch on Wednesday pushed attorneys
for the Los Angeles Lakers guard and the 20-year-old woman to
schedule Bryant's deposition before the end of February. He also
said he hoped the woman's civil lawsuit against Bryant will go to
trial this summer.
The woman sued Bryant in August, three weeks before the criminal
case against him collapsed when she decided she could not take part
in a trial. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for mental
injuries, humiliation and public scorn that the former hotel worker
said she has suffered since their encounter in June 2003 at a
Bryant, a married father of one, issued an apology but insisted
the sex was consensual.
The hearing was the second before Matsch, who also chastised
both sides for attacking each other and disclosing too much detail
about the high-profile case in court filings. Bryant did not
attend, but the woman watched the proceedings from a seat between
her two attorneys.
The woman, who is pregnant, left the courthouse holding hands
with her husband. Defense attorney L. Lin Wood declined to reveal
the man's name or details of the marriage, except to say it
happened last fall. He would not discuss the pregnancy.
Defense attorney Pamela Mackey said she would agree to schedule
Bryant's deposition soon, but accused the woman's attorneys of
dragging their feet on her requests for information such as her
medical and educational records.
Matsch has not yet ruled on her request to order that
information to be turned over to the defense. Wood said he was
working to obtain releases for information he considered relevant
to the lawsuit.
The judge also ordered the attorneys to stop including
"immaterial, impertinent and scandalous" information in public
filings. He said he was tired of seeing information that should be
kept under wraps.
"The court is not involved in the entertainment business,"
said Matsch, the no-nonsense judge who handled the federal Oklahoma
City bombing trials. "It is to be expected that everything that is
done here is done consistently with the rules and with a sense of
decorum and decency."
Outside court, Wood said he agreed with Matsch that the sides
must limit what they include in public filings.
"Too much has been filed that had no business being filed. The
court system should not be a public relations machine," he said.
Defense attorneys declined comment.
Matsch threw out a defense request to spread the blame for the
harm the woman claims to have suffered. Bryant's attorneys wanted
to argue that news organizations, including The Associated Press,
the state court system and people who threatened the woman were