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ISSUE 117 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/7/2003

Kobe makes his case

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor


Friday, November 7, 2003

It is no secret that a great legal defense in a high profile case starts long before ever setting foot in the courtroom.

Kobe Bryant has laid down all the groundwork for a stellar legal defense in his impending sexual assault trial. He hired the best lawyers money could buy. Most importantly, he hired a female attorney, which could aid his claim to being a decent man who would never harm a woman.

Another key move that helped proclaim Bryant’s innocence was his immediate compliance with Colorado law officials. As soon as the assault charges were levied, Bryant flew to Eagle County and turned himself in, sending the message that he had nothing to hide.

Bryant also gave a well-timed press conference that addressed all the pertinent issues to establish his innocence. Rather than denying a sexual encounter, Bryant claimed that consensual sex occurred. A key factor in the press conference was the presence of his wife Vanessa. He pulled out his wife’s chair and she sat beside him, holding his hand in complete silence. This is a common technique in damage control. The simple presence of his wife implies that she believes him to be innocent and will forgive him for committing adultery.

Also important to Bryant’s image at the press conference was his attire. Everything around the couple was black, including the lovely ensemble of Bryant’s wife, but Kobe wore a white sweater, establishing him as the center of attention and an angelic figure.

For good measure, the defense has also compiled a boatload of witnesses to question the character of the 19-year-old accuser.

Various reports have insinuated this girl is suicidal, promiscuous, a drug user and has spent time in a mental institution. Calling the girl’s credibility into question tips the “he said/she said” battle in Kobe’s favor. Surely a jury will believe the superstar athlete with a clean record and numerous charitable affiliations over a young woman whose life has been marred with questionable decisions.

However, Bryant’s brash lead attorney, Pamela Mackey, is making waves with her unrelenting accusation of the victim, obscuring who is really on trial in this case. Mackey cannot seem to restrain herself from smearing the accuser‘s reputation in court, or, for that matter, from using her name, despite a specific court order requesting that her identity remain undisclosed. Mackey also countered the prosecution’s assertion that “injuries sustained by the victim were not consistent with consensual sex” by saying that the victim’s injuries “could have come from having sex with three men in one day.“ Mackey’s actions led the previously open court to close its doors for the rest of the preliminary hearings, leaving the media to speculate as to the precise happenings inside the courtroom.

The fear, then, is that Mackey is alienating the public from her client. Such distancing could spell disaster for Bryant. Without the people on his side, his credibility will suffer and his whole defense could come crumbling down. Bryant’s whole defense is a delicately constructed house of cards that is built around his positive image and the tarnished image of the accuser. If Mackey continues to offend the court and the public with her gruesome accusations, Bryant could be heading to San Quentin State prison to serve time instead of the Staples Center to play basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, it is highly unlikely that Bryant will be sent to jail. America has already seen many celebrities acquitted of similar crimes, and expects the court to do the same for Kobe.

In Mackey’s defense, she does seem to be an ideal fit for the Bryant case. Her firm is the same one that defended the parents of JonBenet Ramsey in the highly publicized 1996 case, and Mackey comes highly recommended after convincing a court to drop domestic violence charges against former Colorado Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy. Short of hiring Johnny Cochran to come up with a word that rhymes with consensual, it is difficult to see a better candidate to clear Bryant’s name.

Are Mackey’s actions questionable? Certainly, fellow attorneys have claimed. Is she effective? Absolutely.

It appears that her dubious tactics will be overshadowed by her skills in front of the jury and the strong case Bryant’s legal defense team has compiled. The speculation that Mackey is jeopardizing her client’s case is just that: speculation.

For now, Bryant will concentrate on playing basketball and raising his baby daughter with the help of Vanessa, while Mackey will search for more ways to ensure a not-guilty verdict for her client.

So, in the end, nothing has changed from before the ordeal started. Bryant is a star on the league’s most powerful team, and Mackey is one of many lawyers despised by the masses.


Sports Editor Ken Foote is a junior from West Chicago, Ill. He majors in psychology with a concentration in media studies.


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