FanDuel - WFBC

March 06, 2005

Kobe gets rid of his rape case ordeal: with a check. Another pro athlete buys his way out of a legal mess. So what's new?

posted by roberts to basketball at 09:08 AM - 38 comments

Great article. Money sure does talk, or in this case, shuts people up. Kobe paid off his wife with a huge ring and now pays off his accueser! Justice is surely blind.

posted by daddisamm at 09:26 AM on March 06

What's new? Well... it's Shaquille O'Neal's (and Willie Stargell's) birthday today. Gather those rosebuds. Sun rises in East, water is wet, still no NHL. Here's Steve with the weather.

posted by chicobangs at 09:30 AM on March 06

Money and fame will ALWAYS talk in our society. That will never change. It would help if some of the females that continue to get involved in these situations would stay away from these degenerates. Between their cash, teams of lawyers, and sense of entitlement over the "common folk," many professional (and college) athletes continue to see these things as no more than business issues. Like was said on ESPN's "Sports Reporters" this morning, this story started out making headlines in all publications and networks, and has now ended with a big check being written, earning barely a sidebar in many papers. Females need to realize many of these same individuals, if not for their "world-altering" ability to shoot a round ball through a hoop, would otherwise be the literal "bottom feeders" of society, with no education and probably living off public assistance. Wake up and figure out that fame and money doesn't equate to high moral values and respect for others.

posted by dyams at 11:38 AM on March 06

It is probably worth noting that it isn't like this was exactly a travesty of justice here- the entire point of this trial was to extract money from Kobe, not to determine criminal guilt or innocence (that had already been done.) I personally find these types of civil suits a gross miscarriage of justice- if you've been found innocent (or, in this case, it has been found that there isn't even enough evidence to proceed to trial) then you shouldn't be put on trial again for the same offense. If you want to play the rich/poor thing, really, one might point out that if Kobe were poor, this suit never would have been brought at all- he'd have had one criminal trial, as the Founding Fathers intended, and it would have been over.

posted by tieguy at 01:13 PM on March 06

the entire point of this trial was to extract money from Kobe, not to determine criminal guilt or innocence (that had already been done.) It had? Exactly when, how, and by whom? if you've been found innocent No one is found "innocent" in a court in the United States. They're found "not guilty", which is not the same thing. (or, in this case, it has been found that there isn't even enough evidence to proceed to trial) Wrong again. The trial didn't proceed because the accuser decided not to testify/cooperate. There are many, many possible reasons why she might decide to do that, only one of which is, "Because he didn't do it." then you shouldn't be put on trial again for the same offense. You could always choose to live in a country where that is the case. Or, if you wish, you could do some research on the difference between criminal and civil suits.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:34 PM on March 06

Yay! Guilty 'til proven innocent! Or guilty 'til proven rich, whatever.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:26 PM on March 06

No one is found "innocent" in a court in the United States. They're found "not guilty", which is not the same thing. See, that's the whole problem. In a lot of people's eyes, Kobe was guilty from the getgo without trial or any proof of illegal activity. So, why go through the trials and tribulations of a civil suit so that people will think you're guilty anyways?

posted by dfleming at 03:39 PM on March 06

If you want to play the rich/poor thing, really, one might point out that if Kobe were poor, this suit never would have been brought at all You're right. If kobe were poor, he never would have been in that hotel, in that room. If he were poor, he wouldn't have to worry about young girls throwing themselves at him and trying to figure out if he can keep it quiet or if his wife would find out. If he were poor he wouldn't have the best lawyers money can buy, and if he were poor he could never have afforded to pay off his wife. Hell, if he were poor he wouldn't even be married to her. We can play that game all day long. I'm sure there are disadvantages to being rich, but the advantages are so great I doubt few would trade places with me or you. So let's not cry any tears for kobe. If was his choice to have sex with a girl he hardly knew when he was already married. He's a smart guy, and I'm sure he knew what 'could' happen. If I were in his shoes I wouldn't have that problem. I have no money for anyone to go after. Of course, due to that 'no money' part I probably wouldn't have been in that situation anyway. (and this is assuming he did nothing legally wrong) In a lot of people's eyes, Kobe was guilty from the getgo without trial or any proof of illegal activity. And in a lot of people's eyes kobe was not guilty from the getgo. It's amazing how many people told me that 'if she didn't want anything to happen she wouldn't have been there'. It's like I'm living in the 1950s. People made their minds up on both sides. Or did I just imagine all those cheers in his first game back in LA?

posted by justgary at 04:08 PM on March 06

No one is found "innocent" in a court in the United States. They're found "not guilty", which is not the same thing. See, that's the whole problem. No, it's a very good thing that the job of a court is to prove guilt, and that the legal system, at least, understands the distinction between "innocent" and "not guilty". When a court finds someone guilty, it means that they saw evidence evidence and/or heard testimony indicating guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When a court finds someone not guilty, it means that they failed to see such evidence; it does not establish innocence.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:59 PM on March 06

No, it does effectively establish innonence; that's what we used to call 'double jeopardy.' Now it's 'an opening for a lawsuit.'

posted by tieguy at 06:02 PM on March 06

No, it does effectively establish innonence; Obviously I'm dealing with a high-powered trial lawyer here. A finding of "not guilty" does not establish innocence, effectively or in any other way. It just means that the defendant was not proven guilty. He/she can be guilty as sin and still get off with a finding of "not guilty"; the pronouncement of a jury does not create innocence. As for your assertions about what the founding fathers wanted, I think if you do even some cursory research you'll find that the concept of civil suits existed in English common law, well before the founding of the United States.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:41 PM on March 06

The natural conclusion that we all expected. I am not a Kobe fan but even I am glad to see this put away. Now he can focus on missing the playoffs.

posted by geekyguy at 06:49 PM on March 06

The column seems a little bit silly to me. Hand-wringing over no lessons being learned? The author couldn't have expected a neat moral storybook ending, so his article comes across as dishonest. Or maybe just lame.

posted by dusted at 07:06 PM on March 06

What's new? Well... it's Shaquille O'Neal's (and Willie Stargell's) birthday today. Gather those rosebuds. Well, the birthday gift goes to Kobe. Of course he had to pay for his own gift. What is he gonna do the next time something like this happens though? Even the public with the "sheep" mentality (that most of our country has) will not believe that he is actually innocent. (Just a reminder, in this country...you are innocent until PROVEN guilty.) Today is also MY birthday as well. Perhaps I can get my ex-wife to stop acting like she does and she can also stop trying to get make my life a pain (after she did re-marry only two days after the finalization of our divorce and yet I waited for years to even start dating.) Maybe Kobe can give me some legal pointers!?

posted by BigAl4Auburn at 07:50 PM on March 06

Now he can focus on missing the playoffs. That's beautiful. Perfect. In other words, I like it.

posted by dyams at 07:50 PM on March 06

Tieguy,you are the poster boy for the Bush administration's view of the legal system. Distortions and half truths abound in your head. Double jeopardy does not apply in a civil proceeding following a criminal trial. Dropping charges or a finding of not guilty does not equate to innocence. The civil proceeding has a reduced burden of proof and different evidentary rulings then a criminal trial. Evidence that is precluded from a criminal trial may be allowed in the civil trial. The defendant in a civil trial must testify but in a criminal trial may assert his 5th Amendment rights not to testify. Tieguy is your viewpoint truly "tough luck that you were injured by another, but get on with you life... oh you want your day in court then you are only interested in money." I will wager that if you were injured due to the intentional acts or negligence of another and they refused to pay for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages that you will be calling a lawyer for representation and demanding that they file that ugly money grubbing lawsuit.

posted by McLaw at 08:03 PM on March 06

When a court finds someone not guilty, it means that they failed to see such evidence; it does not establish innocence. By that count, in the eyes of the general public, none of us are innocent of any crime; we're just not guilty because there's no evidence/not enough to convict or prosecute us. If that's the case, what exactly are you arguing? That we should look at Kobe with a cocked eyebrow because he's "not proven guilty"? I understand what you're saying in a legal sense but if you're arguing that the general public should look at people investigated for any crime but not prosecuted or convicted in a negative way, I think that's pretty lousy.

posted by dfleming at 08:18 PM on March 06

Obviously I'm dealing with a high-powered trial lawyer here. Always with the kid gloves. Do you find a lot of people on the 'net "overreact" to what you have to say? I think if you do even some cursory research you'll find that the concept of civil suits existed in English common law, well before the founding of the United States. Seriously, do you even have gears 1-4? I don't think anyone is arguing civil suits were created in the early '90s. You have a wonderful habit of (purposefully or no) missing the figurative point, choosing instead to argue literal facts that have little or no bearing on what's being discussed. At the risk of speaking poorly for someone else, I think tieguy's point is that civil suits are used as de facto second chances in trials nowadays. I appreciate the standard of proof is lower in civil suits because they exist for different purposes and act as a check/ balance, but can you see why someone might take issue with the idea of an innocent party having to pay damages for something they were cleared of? Yes, that last sentence was there just to wind you up, but wind you up because your self-righteousness seems to have left you stuck in a Sophistic trap. To wit:

A finding of "not guilty" does not establish innocence, effectively or in any other way. It just means that the defendant was not proven guilty. He/she can be guilty as sin and still get off with a finding of "not guilty"; the pronouncement of a jury does not create innocence.
Innocent until proven guilty, right? Ergo the court doesn't have to "create innocence". It's there until the state manages to take it away. We are all innocent as newborn babes until a preponderance of evidence makes it otherwise.

posted by yerfatma at 08:32 PM on March 06

I think tieguy's point is that civil suits are used as de facto second chances in trials nowadays. Yerfatma...your killing me here... a plaintiff does not recover money damages in a criminal trial. A defendant does not lose his freedom in a civil trial. IT IS NOT A SECOND CHANCE. The two trials are totally seperate with different burdens of proof, different evidence and different consequences for a defendant. A civil trial will trail the criminal case because a defendant will refuse to answer questions in a civil proceeding because the prosecutor may use his answers against him in the criminal case. It is that simple. The criminal and civil proceedings are apples and oranges. This is nothing new. Kobe's lawyers did a masterful job of ensuring the criminal case did not go forward. The police and DA were sloppy and outclassed. It is my opinion that the DA should never talk about a pending criminal case to the media. There is no need for press conferences. It taints the jury pool and prejudices a defendant. Unfortunately we will never know for sure if Kobe was guilty of a criminal act. Who wants sexual predators set free...I don't. As far as the civil case, Kobe's lawyers did a masterful job of ensuring his deposition would not be taken and the ugly facts will never be known. The settlement is loaded with confidentiality agreements and sanctions for disclosure. Kobe put himself into a horrible situation. This act of five minutes cost him about 4-5 million in legal fees, loss of endorsements, about 3-4 million in civil settlement and a 4 million ring for his wife along with public humiliation. If he did sexually asssault that young girl then he got off cheap.

posted by McLaw at 09:26 PM on March 06

Leaving all the personal invective out... can you see why someone might take issue with the idea of an innocent party having to pay damages for something they were cleared of? If they were indeed innocent, yes. A verdict of "not guilty" does not establish that. That's my point, and I don't see why it's so...controversial. Kobe Bryant hasn't been "proven innocent" : that's fact, not opinion. Innocent until proven guilty, right? See http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Law508/InnocentGuilty.htm for an interesting essay on the history of the legal concept, "presumed innocent until proven guilty".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:26 PM on March 06

Kobe Bryant hasn't been "proven innocent" : that's fact, not opinion. ...and I'm so tired that I failed to point out that he wasn't even found not guilty. The case didn't proceed, and there was no finding. Godawful exhausting winter this has been...

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:42 PM on March 06

a plaintiff does not recover money damages in a criminal trial. A defendant does not lose his freedom in a civil trial. IT IS NOT A SECOND CHANCE. The two trials are totally seperate with different burdens of proof, different evidence and different consequences for a defendant. You do realize most criminal punishments are expressed as years in prison or $ fines, right? To say the nature of the punishments is different (or the collector of the punishments), ergo the trials are unconnected is a nicety I can't parse.

posted by yerfatma at 06:28 AM on March 07

When a court finds someone not guilty, it means that they failed to see such evidence; it does not establish innocence. The concept of establishing innocence is obscene, turning the bedrock principle of a just criminal legal system on its head. Kobe Bryant has not been proven guilty of sexual assault, so in the legal sense of the word, he is innocent. Obviously I'm dealing with a high-powered trial lawyer here. And we're dealing with Learned Fucking Hand. Do you ever find that it's hard to have a discussion with someone after you've ripped out their throat?

posted by rcade at 07:39 AM on March 07

The concept of establishing innocence is obscene, turning the bedrock principle of a just criminal legal system on its head. Did I ever say otherwise? I didn't call the guy guilty; I merely pointed out the error in the statement that he was found innocent. His innocence was never proven, and I never said that he should have had to do so, so don't try to hang that red herring around my neck. In fact, I was the one that pointed out that it's not the court's job to determine innocence, so take a big relax, your bedrock is safe with me. Kobe Bryant has not been proven guilty of sexual assault, so in the legal sense of the word, he is innocent. I'd like a cite on that, please, rcade. If you do succed in finding one, I expect it's going to turn out to be rather like other legal definitions that defy common sense: for example, an assault resulting in a broken arm being judged "deadly force". One more time, I pointed out that the concept of innocence is beside the point. And we're dealing with Learned Fucking Hand. Do you ever find that it's hard to have a discussion with someone after you've ripped out their throat? If using a bit of mild sarcasm on someone is "ripping out their throat", I really hope you've got a big mop around to handle your own buckets o' gore, rcade. Pot, kettle, black. Oh wait, I'm sorry, Fucking Pot, Fucking Kettle, Fucking Black.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:02 AM on March 07

pulls up chair. salts popcorn. kicks up feet.

posted by garfield at 08:34 AM on March 07

Bottom line, we'll never know what happened that night. Kobe haters will still maintain he is guilty. Kobe lovers will say the woman was only after the cash. Everybody else really dont care because we have seen this all before. I sure hope that Kobe is never involved in anyting like this in the future--because then we'll know a crime went unpunished. Remember when OJ was accussed of possible abuse a few years before the muder?? Everybody said "not OJ, he is the best there ever was!--He wouldnt do anyting like that! yea right!

posted by daddisamm at 09:03 AM on March 07

slips garf a fiver to throw some of that popcorn at the mob...

posted by smithers at 09:05 AM on March 07

How can the concept of innocence be beside the point in a discussion of whether Bryant was "found innocent"? The error in the statement that he was found innocent is not in the fact that his "innocence was never proven," it's in the fact that you don't need to prove innocence at all. If you don't think "innocent until proven guilty" is common sense, I'd love to see what you would propose as a more just alternative. Should we adopt the Napoleonic Code? Need a citation? Try the Fifth Amendment: "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." As affirmed by the Supreme Court, due process means fair trial by a jury of your peers, and fair means believing that a defendant did not commit a crime until proven otherwise. If you want to argue Bryant's guilt, you'll have to move the case to a moral or spiritual court. In the legal one, he's innocent, no matter how much it kills people to use that word on him. The case is over. He can't be tried again. Game over. Tonight's score: Bryant 1, Accuser 0. Thanks for coming to the arena. Drive home safely.

posted by rcade at 09:05 AM on March 07

If civil and criminal trials are two different animals, it seems off that you can "settle" with someone who is the victim in a criminal case. Just an aside... Anyway, anyone who has read the smoking gun transcripts of what happened, has a pretty good handle on this. Kobe changed his story 15 times in the first five minutes... When the Police mentioned she was bleeding he immediately says but I'm wearing white cotton boxers, and there's nothing on them! Have you already checked?? Basically he's a bad liar. I have alot of mixed feelings on this, but the lasting impression of Kobe as a sadistic lover, (consentual or not) a bad liar, and a ego-intoxicated narcissist is enough. Is he a criminal?? Who cares? Is he a scumbag? You bet.

posted by LostInDaJungle at 11:00 AM on March 07

LIDJ, you call that mixed? I call that right on the $.

posted by garfield at 11:02 AM on March 07

I don't like that you can launch a civil suit against someone for the same crime that that person has just been exonerated of in a criminal trial. It does reek of second chances and a perversion of the concept of double jeopardy. Maybe I'm wrong. But who cares? It doesn't even seem to apply to this situation. If the prosecution decides not to proceed with a criminal trial, there never is a judgement. He's never been "proved innocent" or "found not guilty" or whatever you want to call it. He's still in the uncharted territory of having been accused of something he may or may not have done. So in that instance, what's wrong with a civil suit?

posted by fabulon7 at 11:04 AM on March 07

I don't know about anyone else, but I usually use "acquitted" or "not guilty" but I rarely say innocent. Since the charges were dismissed and dropped prior to trial, he's just like everyone else, someone who isn't charged with a crime of any kind, and he won't be charged again for anything related to what happened in Colorado. So there it is, it is what it is. I don't like Kobe, I would have kept Shaq. Personally, I would have liked to see it go to trial. I don't like when cases are tried in the media first and in the courtroom second, but it frequently happens when its someone famous or a high profile case...or in cases like the OJ trial, it happens simultaneously. I wasn't that surprised when the case was dismissed because the whole time I thought the prosecution was doing a shitty job handling the case. The just seemed overwhelmed or something. Kobe's lawyer never shut her mouth the whole time there was a gag order, she said the complainant's name like six times during a preliminary hearing when she wasn't supposed to, and (I think) she circumvented the rape shield law by leaking facts about the accuser's sexual history. Contrary to popular belief, it is in fact possible (in theory, I don't know about practice) to fuck six basketball teams the day before and actually get raped by someone the next day. That is why they have rape shield laws, to eliminate the "look at her history, she is a whore" defense. Maybe I shouldn't blame Kobe's lawyer for that last part as much as I should blame the trial court. I feel that in an effort to accommodate the media in this case and speed up the release of documents, they fucked it up and leaked information that they weren't supposed to several times. You can't put the cat back in the bag with that kind of stuff. I would have told her the same thing: get the civil suit ready, because they are fucking this up. Now maybe that was her plan all along, I don't know, but they (the Court and DA's office, I would add Kobe's lawyer, but she got her result, so it worked out on her end) should have handled the criminal case better. There has been a lot of discussion about civil vs. criminal trials. Personally, I consider criminal law and criminal trials to be the big leagues, with the most at stake. I would much rather pay a civil judgment or go bankrupt from one even than spend time in prison. Some people may not agree, but the system is certainly set up that way. Its why you don't have the same protections, as a defendant, in a civil trial that you do in a criminal trial, there is less at stake. It isn't another shot at him in that sense. It doesn't just happen to famous people either, for example, and this is getting kind of long but, I am aware of one incident where the suspect got into an altercation with a woman (and I had heard it involved a baseball bat) and left her by the roadside (in the winter), she is disoriented and stumbles down into the freezing river and dies...don't ask me why but the police don't charge him, not enough evidence or whatever, the point is, they fucked it up, so he would be considered "not guilty" of any crime for that reason...however, in the ensuing civil suit for wrongful death by her parents/family, he was found something like 70% at fault or so for her death (I'm going only off of memory here so it may have been more or less, etc.)...so high enough for a civil judgment but it wouldn't have been beyond a reasonable doubt (which I would put at about 95%) for a criminal conviction. They probably won't get money because the guy is a deadbeat but I'll bet they were at least glad they put some of that on him instead of nothing becoming of it at all, due to police and prosecution miscues, etc. There, aren't you glad I ejaculated some knowledge on to the face of this thread? (Probably not...) Oversimplified, Criminal law is about fines (payments to the state) and incarceration, civil law is about compensation.

posted by chris2sy at 11:30 AM on March 07

Wrongful death suits are very common, at least that's my impression from reading newspapers and such, and seems that money changes hands (the desired result of a civil suit, as Chris pointed out) independently of the result of the related criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt and a preponderance of the evidence are very different standards of judgment.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:09 PM on March 07

dyams: would otherwise be the literal "bottom feeders" of society, with no education and probably living off public assistance I'm pretty sure that Kobe comes from a solidly middle class family so what exactly do you mean here?

posted by rdr at 06:52 PM on March 07

The following civil case, if any, also doesn't automatically result in a monetary victory for an accuser in a criminal sexual assault/sexual conduct case. Thinking about this stuff today reminded me of Juwan Howard's 1998 defamation suit against a rape accuser. He sued her to clear his reputation, he said, after the grand jury didn't go for the indictment against him in the rape case and no charges were filed. Because he only asked for $1.00 in damages it really made me believe him and I think it did clear his name to some extent. Of course, it could have been a brilliant PR move or callous piling on by Howard after no charges were brought against him...but I didn't think so.

posted by chris2sy at 10:41 PM on March 07

There's no comparison between a criminal case, filed by the state against a person to deprive him of liberty, and a civil case, filed by one party against another to deprive them of money. The state has nothing to do with the decision to start a civil proceeding against someone. I don't know about anyone else, but I usually use "acquitted" or "not guilty" but I rarely say innocent. You're giving the state too much credit, considering the number of times they convict innocent people. In 1984, Lenell Geter was a young engineer in Dallas convicted of armed robbery. He had no criminal record. No physical evidence linked him to the crime. Multiple coworkers testified he was at work during the time the robbery occured 50 miles away. Police withheld interviews with witnesses who said it wasn't him. He was convicted anyway, and would still be rotting in prison if not for press attention that showed what a miscarraige of justice this was. Prosecutors always make defendants sound like they are the second coming of Attila the Hun. When they can't prove it, I think we should avoid putting accused people in a third category that implies they got away with something. Unless they're O.J. Simpson. In which case, the most I'll grant is that he's unprovenly guilty. Until he finds the "real killers" during his tireless search of the golf courses of the world.

posted by rcade at 07:32 AM on March 08

rcade: I hear he's recently expanded his search to include the world's best white-sand beaches.

posted by fabulon7 at 07:50 AM on March 08

rdr, sorry I took a while to respond, but for a while reading this stuff made me think I'd mistakenly been forwarded to the "Harvard Law Review" site. Anyways, maybe throwing Kobe into the "bottom-feeders" category appears a bit harsh, but my meaning was to explain what I think is the sense of entitlement a person (in this case, Kobe) has once he enters that strata of multi-millionaire celebrity. Like it or not, money/salary is near the top of the list when individuals are evaluated in our society (and I'm talking about generalities, not evaluating a close friend of a particular person). If Kobe had not been a basketball star with the ability to go right from high school to the NBA (and make it work, which a growing number of players in the future probably won't be able to do), what would he be doing? Maybe he would have gone on to college, gotten a decent job, led a "normal" life, just like average schmucks like myself. But that's another problem with our society: people who live ordinary, everyday lives and work hard for small salaries, and basically keep the world going on a day to day basis, are fairly close to the realm of "bottom feeders." Our cases, should they make it to the courts, are viewed differently, processed differently, and the outcomes are different. If Kobe, or many other "potential" NBA players bomb out and don't make the league, what does their long-term occupational and/or income potential become? I dare say, in many cases, they would do well to be able to join the ranks right along people like myself who struggle each day to make a life for my family. Then let's see how these same charges play out in a charge of rape in our court system. I'd assume it would be much different. And don't give me the same old line that "this probably wouldn't happen if he wasn't famous." There's alleged rape cases each and every day in all parts of the country. And a lot of individuals serving jail time because of them. Kobe's lawyers tore the accuser's life to shreds so much that it pretty much forced her into submission (with regards to seeing the court case through). And the idea of making a woman's sexual history the main focus in this type of case is ridiculous. A woman can have consensual intercourse with numerous men, but that means any man in her future can ignore her when she says "No"? Now I, of course, was not present when this situation occured, but a high-priced team of attorneys can blow holes in just about any court case, regardless of apparent "evidence." I'd be hard pressed on my salary to find reprsentation such as that off the street. I realize I may have rambled a bit and jumped around the topic, but I hope you realize my real point (and I apologize for making stereotypical remarks pertaining only to Kobe).

posted by dyams at 08:55 AM on March 08

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