EAGLE, Colo. -- The judge presiding over Kobe Bryant's
sexual assault case is warning reporters they might not get a seat in
his courtroom if they publicize the name or photographs of Bryant's accuser.
Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett on Tuesday issued the
warning as part of a three-page "decorum" order outlining ground
rules for media planning to cover Bryant's initial court appearance
Aug. 6 and future hearings.
Virtually all American newspapers and news organizations,
including The Associated Press, have policies against releasing the
identities of alleged assault victims and have not named Bryant's
But her name, address and phone number have been posted on
various Web sites, and a Los Angeles radio host whose show is heard
in 60 cities has used her name on the air.
The Lakers star has said his 19-year-old accuser had
sex with him willingly at a resort in nearby Edwards on June 30. He
faces a single felony assault charge.
New York attorney Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment expert, said
the judge's warning may be unconstitutional.
"It goes well beyond what has been approved by any appellate
court," Abrams said Wednesday. "The constitutional reality is
that the name of the chief prosecuting witness in a case is by its
nature public, not secret. This is not an undercover policeman
Under Gannett's order, reporters also will be barred from using
cell phones and tape recorders and from interviewing people inside
the courthouse. No photos or video may be taken of witnesses,
potential jurors and Bryant's accuser and her family.
Gannett, who discussed the order with reporters after its
release, said it was intended to prevent contamination of the jury
pool, which could lead to a change of venue.
On Tuesday, Bryant's attorneys asked the judge to reconsider his
ruling allowing cameras in the courtroom, saying they were
concerned about publicity. The attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Hal
Haddon, also asked for a hearing on how the media should be allowed
to cover court proceedings.
Haddon and Mackey didn't return repeated calls seeking comment.
More than a dozen Web sites have also wrongly identified another
young woman as Bryant's accuser. On Wednesday, she asked publicly
that her name and photograph be removed from the sites.
"It has hurt me as a person," Katie Lovell told ABC's "Good
Meanwhile, attorneys for media organizations filed motions
Tuesday to open sealed court records, saying many details have
already been publicized, some by Bryant and Eagle County District
Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
"Ironically, at the same time, both the district attorney and
Bryant are opposing the very thing that would permit the public to
independently test the veracity of their public relations
statements, i.e., unsealing the court file," the attorneys wrote.
Eagle County commissioners also gave Hurlbert an additional
$105,000 to help handle costs of the case, and left open the
possibility of more.
County finance director Mike Roeper said Lake, Summit and Clear
Creek counties, which make up the 5th Judicial District along with
Eagle County, could be asked to contribute additional money to
Hurlbert's $2 million budget.
Roeper said it was the first time in his 2½ years in office that
a prosecutor has asked for additional funds.
Hurlbert also got some additional expertise: Ingrid Bakke, head
of Boulder County's sex assault and domestic violence unit, is on
loan for up to a year to help with the case.
Prosecutors and others have been forced to make changes to
accommodate the media.
The Colorado Judicial Branch this week is expected to launch its
first-ever Web site devoted to a case. The page will have
information on hearing schedules in the Bryant case and other
"I've had 150 calls a day. It's overwhelming," said Krista
Flannigan, Hurlbert's spokeswoman. "It seemed like it was going to
save a lot of us time."