Codefendants of Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel have commissioned a public opinion poll to find out whether they can get a fair trial in Maryland when they face political corruption charges a second time.
The telephone survey is being conducted by a New York organization that has gained increasing attention through its work in compiling jury profiles for defendants. It seeks to learn whether a large number of Maryland residents, all potential jurors, are so biased against the governor's friends and codfendants as a result of the aborted first trial that they cannot get a fair retrial in the state.
When a mistrial was declared Dec. 7 following the exposure of jurors to news reports about alleged jury tampering, all of the prosecution's case had been presented and publicized but the defense had just begun.
If the poll shows that many Maryland resident react unfovorably to codefendants W. Dale Hess and brothers William A. and Harry W. Rodgers III, their attorneys will use the results to support motions for a change of venue.
Hearings on those motions, and for a delay of the second trial, are scheduled in U.S. District Court in Baltimore next Wednesday.
The new judge assigned to preside at the second trial, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Taylor of Knoxville, Tenn., said yesterday that he has received "a whole batch of motions" on which he will hear arguments on next week.
In a related action yesterday, federal marshals delivered subpoenas to Baltimore radio and television stations, seeking scripts, tapes and logs of newscasts that followed the declaration of the mistrial. The subpoenas were drawn in behalf of Gov. Mandel by his lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner.
Regardless of what the poll shows the governor will not ask that his trial be moved out of the state. Mandel has said he believes his best chance for acquittal lies within the state whose voters have twice elected him governor.
The organization conducting the poll is called the National Jury Project. It is a foundation-supported organization that was employed by lawyers representing former Attorney General John Mitchell and ex-Commerce Secretary, Maurice Stans in their Watergate-related criminal trial in 1974.
Mitchell's attorney in that action, William G. Hundley, now represents Dale Hess. In the Mitchell Stans trial, the organization was first hired to conduct a public opinion poll to see whether a fair trial was possible in New York City, and later the same group surveyed potential jurors.
While Hunndley apparently was sat isfied with the polling in support of a change-of-venue motion in the Stans-Mitchell trial, he was not happy with its work in interviewing acquaintances of prospective jurors to help in the jury-selection process.
"The one guy they wanted to kick off the jury was the one who held out for acquittal," Hundley has said. When the question of surveying prospective jurors came up in the first Mandel trial, Hundley told the judge, "We did that one, aand I'll never do it again."STA spokesman at the Project's office in New York said yesterday he could not talk to a reporter for The Post "because we consider you scab labor." He explained that his organization has been retained by the pressmen's union, which was expelled from The Post last year but is still striking the paper, to survey potential jurors in upcoming trials of some pressmen's union members charged with damaging the newspaper's presses.
Before the first trial Hess and the Rodgers brothers sought unseccessfully to have their trials moved to Reanoke, Va. Their motion was not joined by Mandel or by codefendants Ernest N. Cory Jr. and Irvin Kovens.
Kovens subsequently was granted a separate trial, because of a heart ailment, and it has not been decided if he will be part of the second trial.
Cory, a Laurel lawyer and the only defendant who is not a close friend of Mandel, has run out of money and will be represented by a public defender at the second trial.
The six men are accused of mail fraud and racketeering. The indictment returned Nov. 24, 1975 charges that they participated in a massive scheme to defraud the residents of the state. The first trial ended after 13 weeks of testimony when the jurors learned of two separate attempts at jury tampering.