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Vanessa Bryant's Trial vs. LA County over Kobe Crash Photos Pushed Back 3 Weeks

Adam WellsJuly 8, 2022

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant's trial against Los Angeles County, which was set to begin July 26, has been delayed by three weeks.

Per USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter announced the postponement Friday due to scheduling issues.

Walter also noted a "seven-day estimate is going to be a sufficient amount of time to put on your case" after expressing his frustration with both sides about their heated back-and-forth talks.

"That’s the problem with you folks,” Walter told one of the attorneys. "You keep raising these red herrings that are just … It’s not the way to try the case. This case should be streamlined. It should be presented with good counsel, and you should eliminate these squabbles that are meaningless."

Bryant originally filed the lawsuit in Sept. 2020, alleging L.A. County Fire and Sheriff’s Department employees improperly took pictures of her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna, at the site of the helicopter crash that killed them.

She also accused the employees of sharing the pictures.

According to Schrotenboer, Walter said he wants to split the trial into two parts to make things easier for the jury due to the complex nature of the case.

"Part one would determine the federal issue of whether her rights were violated under the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Then a new trial in state court could come after that to address those claims under state law," Schrotenboer wrote.

In November, the county said in court documents that Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva "was keeping his promise to Bryant by making sure no photos got out" and deputies on or before Jan. 30, 2020, deleted photos on their phones from the site.

Bryant's attorneys responded by calling it a "cover-up" and asked the court to sanction the county for destroying evidence it should have preserved.

During a Nov. 16 deposition with Bryant's attorneys, Villanueva said he directed the deputies to delete the photos to ensure they "never see the light of day" after making a promise to Vanessa Bryant that no one would see the remains of Kobe and Gianna.

Per a January report from Fred Shuster of the Los Angeles Daily News, Bryant and Los Angeles County were unable to reach a settlement agreement when they met for a private mediation session in front of a judge in June.

Schrotenboer noted earlier this year that a federal judge wanted Bryant and the county to settle their dispute out of court prior to April 11, but they were unable to reach an agreement before that date.

As part of Friday's decision to postpone, Schrotenboer noted a civil trial "could turn into a public spectacle full of gruesome details and renewed grief."

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26, 2020.

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