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Prosecution in Bryant case loses its bid to seal filings

DENVER -- The judge in the Kobe Bryant case rejected a prosecution motion yesterday to seal all court filings related to evidence in the high-profile sexual assault case.

Instead, state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said, attorneys can file motions about Bryant and his accuser that leave sensitive details to be filed separately under seal.

The judge urged attorneys to make sealed filings "sparingly and wisely" and he chided the prosecution for citing "no legal authority" to seal all details of evidence.

"While it is admirable to attempt to prevent potential tainting of the jury pool, giving counsel free reign to file any such motions under seal is potentially problematic," Ruckriegle wrote.

The judge said he agreed media coverage might threaten the ability to hold a fair trial, but backed the solution offered by media attorneys and Bryant's defense team of filing certain details under seal.

A prosecution spokeswoman, Krista Flannigan, declined to comment. Defense attorney Pamela Mackey did not return a call seeking comment.

Bryant, 25, is charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort last June. He has said the two had consensual sex.

The Los Angeles Lakers star could face four years to life in prison, or 20 years to life on probation, if convicted of felony sexual assault.

The ruling was issued a day after defense attorneys suggested in a court filing that racism may be behind Bryant's prosecution.

Mackey asked the judge to help determine whether sheriff's deputies and prosecution employees ordered T-shirts depicting the black NBA star being hanged, suggesting a Klan lynching.

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