updated 8/9/2004 1:59:11 PM ET 2004-08-09T17:59:11

After Wednesday's edition of 'The Abrams Report,’ the judge in the Bryant case issued a gag order, saying neither defense nor prosecution lawyers can say any more to the press. 

Abrams spoke with prominent criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt and civil rights attorney and Court TV anchor, Lisa Bloom about whether or not disclosing the accuser's second thoughts was a good move, and whether or not prosecution has a strong enough case. 

Excerpt of interview with accuser's lawyer

LIN WOOD, BRYANT ACCUSER'S ATTORNEY:  She has been honest from day one with the investigators as they've had to question her about the most intimate details of her sexual life.  She's told them the good, the bad and the ugly.

This girl just turned 19 years of age when this happened to her and she has put up this past year with her reputation being smeared, her privacy invaded, her life threatened.

She has shown a tremendous resolve and a tremendous strength that I think people ought to respect what she has gone through.  Yet, she is still here fighting and she is not going to give up, whether it be criminal or civil, she will go forward to get justice.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “THE ABRAMS REPORT’:  Is that unfair from their position—which is that Kobe Bryant is an innocent man and they want to try and figure out what's going on?

WOOD:  No one is going to deny Kobe Bryant the right to spend his hundreds of millions of dollars any way he chooses to do so.  If he wants to spend $1 million or more a month to investigate this young girl's life because his defense lawyers have decided that the only way he's got a chance to get off is to destroy the reputation of this young girl, that's his right to do. 

ABRAMS:  There is a new report about a woman in Florida who has said that Kobe Bryant groped her at the very least inappropriately.  Is that going to be a relevant issue in this case? 

WOOD:  That's a decision for the prosecutors to make.  I'm familiar with the report and I can tell you that in a civil case, a thorough exhaustive investigation of Kobe Bryant's conduct, past, present will be undertaken and one of the things that we will be looking at will be whether there is a pattern, whether there have been prior instances. 

Why just a civil case?

ABRAMS: Lisa, look, you know what everyone is going to say: They're going to say if this case doesn't go forward and it just moves forward in a civil court that they're going to say this is all about the money. 

LISA BLOOM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY:   I think it's appalling and think these two gentlemen are doing their client a terrible disservice.  I cannot believe that they are speaking publicly about her possible reconsidering of the charges, her possible filing of a civil suit, and that they are publicly saying that this judge should step down. 

I'm a victim's rights attorney myself.  I have done for years what these men are doing, representing a powerless person against a celebrity in a sexual assault case. 

ABRAMS:  I'll play devil's advocate: Their position is that this information comes out, released by the court, that it's one sided and that it's extremely inflammatory and their position is we don't think she can get a fair trial. 

As a result, we're not going to move forward in a criminal case and if we want to really get down to it, we want to play on an even playing field where it would be in a civil court. 

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  You know the fallacy with their argument is that first of all they keep saying the defense-paid expert.  But they don't tell you that the prosecuting has hired an expert, too.

His name is Rick Jobin.  He's from Canada.  It was in the “Rocky Mountain News” this morning and I've looked up his article.  And he's going to testify that the semen and the sperm that was in her cotton underwear would survive a laundering.  Now don't you think that expert is paid, too.

What they're really going after is they want Kobe on the witness stand and in a criminal case they cannot force Kobe to take the stand.  If they drop the criminal case and if they go to a civil case they can subpoena Kobe.  They can make him go through depositions and they can make him testify.  But the other fallacy is that I don't think Kobe has ever said this was the first time he engaged in adultery.  He said it was consensual sex.  So, I don't think they would get in all those other instances they're talking about with Kobe.

BLOOM:  My point is that these gentlemen are doing their client a terrible disservice telling her to drop the charges. 

ABRAMS:  I don't know that they are telling her to drop the charges.  I didn't hear them say we told her to drop the charges.

BLOOM:  Well they're saying that that is their advice.  I reviewed the transcript of your show yesterday. They're suggesting that they think that's the best course of action.  I think that's terrible.  Look, I read that whole 100-page transcript about the DNA evidence. 

Very few people did.  I think very few people even knew what it was about.  But what was front-page news today was Kobe's accuser getting cold feet.  They have done a worse service to her by announcing to the world that she is having second thoughts.  That's what going to pollute the jury pool.

Weak prosecution case?

ABRAMS:  My take on this case is running on fumes, it's inevitable now that the D.A. himself has said he's not going to try this case and that his deputies are going to take over.  To me, this was the first sign that this case was in big trouble.  Even though this guy is handling all of the pretrial motions or most of them and he says "oh, you know what, I've got a reelection coming up.  I'm going to let my deputies handle the trial. "

BLOOM: What message does it send if she drops charges?  I think the person on the street is going to think she was lying.  They caught her lying.  She couldn't go forward.  That's the only reason I would believe and I'm on the victim's side. 

ABRAMS:  I agree with you in the sense that I don't think that you can say that "Oh because her name was released on a Web site twice, on the court Web site, even though her name was all over the Internet before that, and the fact that this one document came out that suddenly that means she's not going to get a fair trial."

BLOOM: But media didn't release her name. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  But what I would say is that this has long been considered a weak case for the prosecution.  Doesn't mean that she is lying, it means that it's been a weak case.

BLOOM:  You know, if she's a good witness, let her testify. 

MERRITT:  First of all, I think that she may not even really make the decision until we get one more ruling from the judge.  Don't forget the judge has not yet ruled as to whether her two alleged suicide attempts are going to be able to come in through witness testimony or other of her emotional foible as they may be.  If those—if the judge says those come in, I really don't think she's going to go forward.

I think she will then say I'm going to go to the civil arena.  And I just want to rebut one other thing Lin Wood said about how the—Colorado is not funding this prosecution and that these are just little Eagle County prosecutors.  That's not true.  There is one prosecutor from Boulder County and there is prosecutor from Jefferson County, both of whom are two of the most experienced sex prosecutors in the state who are working on this case, who are going to try this case.  The prosecution is not outgunned by money or by talent.  They are outgunned by the fact that their facts are not going to stand up in court. 

ABRAMS:  Do you agree with that, Lisa?

BLOOM:  No, of course Kobe has ten's of millions of dollars and the prosecutors don't have that kind of money.  Frankly, after reading this transcript, they are clearly outmaneuvered by this very intelligent, articulate, thorough defense team. 

ABRAMS:  Bottom line, question, Lisa Bloom, do you expect this case go to trial? 

BLOOM:  I hope it does go to trial Dan.  I hope she rejects this advice of her attorneys who clearly want to go forward with the civil suit.  She should go forward.  If she's telling the truth.

ABRAMS:  I don't get it.  I mean they can still go forward with the civil suit no matter what happens in the criminal case? 

ABRAMS:  If he's acquitted in the criminal case, Jeralyn, that doesn't mean ala O.J. Simpson that you can't win in a civil case. 

MERRITT:  Under the facts of this case, I don't think they will.  If Kobe Bryant gets acquitted, I don't think anyone is going to want to hear another word from this woman, even though the standard of proof is going to be different in the civil case.  There's no more facts to support her. 

ABRAMS:  Do you think the public perception, Jeralyn, would just be too much? 

MERRITT:  Yes, I think so.

BLOOM:  Any reconsideration should be subject to attorney/client privilege.  They should never have disclosed that information.

ABRAMS:  I think that you are being too hard on the lawyers for coming out.  I think that they are the first time someone is defending this woman.  And regardless of what you think about this case, if I'm advising her, I say "Up to this point no one served as your voice." 

BLOOM:  Yes, but they can defend her, they can say that she was raped, they can go after what happened that night. But why disclose publicly that she is thinking about dropping charges?  If she stays with it, she is going to be cross-examined about that now. 


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