The increasingly complicated legal wrangling surrounding the impending Kobe Bryant rape trial took another strange turn as court officials once again mistakenly released a sealed court document to the public.
While lawyers representing four different interests argued over how much information about the alleged victim should be released to the public, the court staff posted on the Internet a document that included her name and some intimate details about her. It marked the third time that clerks at the small rural courthouse in Eagle, Colo., had mistakenly released sealed information to the public, in violation of court rules designed to protect the woman's privacy.
This time, the document was removed from public access about 40 minutes after it was posted.
While that error was being handled, Colorado Judge Terry Ruckriegle issued an order acknowledging that he will not be able to meet a schedule set by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday. Breyer had suggested the court in Eagle release edited versions of several court transcripts concerning the victim's private life.
These transcripts were mistakenly sent to media organizations by court clerks last month. In a controversial decision, the Colorado Supreme Court imposed what it called a "prior restraint" on news organizations, ruling that they cannot publish the transcripts even though the documents were provided by the court.
A media group filed an emergency appeal of that order with Breyer. The justice on Monday did not overturn the ruling but told Ruckriegle to prepare edited versions of the transcripts for release, and said this should be done by Wednesday.
Ruckriegle then consulted with prosecutors, defense lawyers, media lawyers and a lawyer representing Bryant's accuser. But the judge indicated late Wednesday he could not get the attorneys to agree, and thus could not release the transcripts. The judge scheduled a closed-door hearing for Friday, when the various attorneys are to argue over the transcripts.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled to start Aug. 27, but could be delayed by intermediate appeals. Bryant, the star guard for the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers, faces either strict probation or a prison term from four years to life if he is convicted of a felony count of sexual assault.