Accuser’s father blasts Ruckriegle
EAGLE – The alleged victim’s father has had enough, and said so in a scathing letter to the judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case.Speaking out for the first time since the case began more than a year ago, the alleged victim’s father blistered District Judge Terry Ruckriegle of Breckenridge in a letter for what he says is Ruckriegle’s preferential treatment of Bryant’s defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon.”Over the past year I have watched you in the courtroom in disbelief,” he wrote in his letter to Ruckriegle.In his letter, the alleged victim’s father said his frustration reached the breaking point after Ruckriegle’s clerk, Michelle Goodbee, accidentally released transcripts of a private hearing to seven media outlets. The alleged victim’s name was also listed on the state court Web site in a file that was supposed to be filed under seal. That filing was quickly removed and the Web site closed down for several hours.
Ruckriegle apologized for the mistakenly released transcripts, but when he failed to specifically mention the alleged victim and her family, their attorney, John Clune, lashed out calling Ruckriegle’s apology “self-serving.” The staff from the state courts responsible for accidentally listing her name and the sealed file issued a letter of apology to the young woman and her family. The alleged victim’s father said Bryant’s attorneys have been manipulating the media – beginning with their press conference the day the charges were filed, July 18, 2003, and later, with legal filings posted to the state court Web site. The alleged victim’s father also protested Ruckriegle’s gag order that followed television appearances by her attorneys. “My family and I have lost trust that we can obtain a fair trial in your court,” he wrote.
Copy of Letter:Text of the alleged victim’s father’s letter to Judge Terry RuckriegleMy wife and I have sat in your courtroom for months now and have patiently and politely refrained from saying anything to you about what we have observed. However, your most recent behavior is so harmful to us that I can no longer remain silent.Over the past year I have watched you in the courtroom in disbelief. From the outset, it has been painfully obvious that you treat the defense as if they can do no wrong and the prosecution and my daughter’s attorney as if you have something against them or this case. Your inappropriate and continual jokes with Mr. Haddon on a matter so personal and traumatic to my family are insulting. At the same time, you seem to take every opportunity to publicly criticize the prosecution and my daughter’s lawyer.I sat quietly frustrated as we saw Kobe Bryant and his lawyers hold a national press conference to profess his alleged innocence. I have watched as leak after harmful leak has gone unpunished. I have watched the defense attorneys manipulate the public opinion of my daughter with their pleadings on your Web site while you did nothing.
One of the most recent mistakes regarding the transcript of the defendant’s paid expert has been devastating to my daughter and my family. I don’t know if you understand the harm your staff has caused. I was extremely disappointed that you ruled against Mr. Clune’s motion to discontinue the electronic distribution of court documents and the prosecution’s motion requesting delayed posting of court documents. One of these safeguards should have been put in place. You cannot guarantee that there will not be further errors. Recently, my daughter’s attorney has tried to minimize the harmful impact of your mistakes by speaking out on television for the first time. Your latest order prohibiting anyone from speaking out to help my daughter tells me that you wish to see the harmful effects of the court’s errors continue. My family and I have lost trust that we can obtain a fair trial in your court.Someday my daughter will be able to stop being the “alleged victim” as you say and rebuild her life. While you move on to your other cases, I only hope that you can someday realize the devastating impact your decisions in this case have had on victims and victim’s rights across the nation.Respectfully, Father of the victim
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