Defense attorneys for convicted Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel moved to subpoena statements made by one of the Mandel jurors who said yesterday, "I feel that Mandel and his codefendants are all not guilty."
In a series of interviews with several reporters, juror Thomas H. Franz III said that, despite his feelings, the guilty verdicts the jury arrived at were correct. But, he added, he hoped the verdicts would be overturned on appeal.
Franz, apparently, was making a distinction between his feelings and the law.
WBAL radio in Baltimore was informed by Mandel attorneys that a tape of Franz' conversation with one of its reporters would be subpoenaed, an action that would strongly indicate that defense attorneys hope to make Franz' statements the basis of an appeal.
Several legal experts said yesterday, however, that jury verdicts are seldom overturned solely because a juror changed his mind after the trial ended. Franz insisted repeatedly yesterday that he did not feel coerced into voting guilty, either by his fellow jurors or by the presiding judge.
Mandel and five codefendants were each convicted Tuesday on 18 counts of mail fraud and racketeering. The men were accused of engaging in an illegal scheme, during the course of which Mandel allegedly received $350,000 worth of gifts and other valuables from his codefendants.
In return, the jury found, Mandel used his office to influence legislation beneficial to a racetrack owned by his codefendants.
Just before excusing the jurors on Tuesday, the presiding judge in the trial, Robert Love Taylor, had admonished them not to talk to anyone about what went on in the jury room - "the sacred, secret place."
Yesterday, Taylor told a group of reporters that he had told the jurors that because "often what they (the jurors) say (after a trial) may be the basis for appeal."
"A juror's recanting, in and of itself, would not result in a new trial," said Alan M. Dershowitz, a Harvard University professor who specializes in criminal law. But a juror's recanting, he said, could be used in an appeal as evidence that jurors were under improper pressure to reach a verdict or that the judge improperly refused to permit a hung jury.
Franz told a reporter after learning of the intended subpoena, "Now my purpose has been served."
"I couldn't leave it rest," he said. "I gave in for conviction and hoped ni my heart there would be and appeal." Franz appeared shocked when told the defense attorneys had said repeatedly during the trial they would appeal any conviction.
Franz cried openly as he sat in his living room yesterday and described what he called his "ordeal" and torment" at having to reach a verdict he thought was legally correct but in which he said he emotionally did not believe.
"If they do not overturn this on appeal," he said, "I will feel bad, very bad, as bad as I feel now . . . It tore apart the ligaments of my feelings."
From interviews with fellow jurors and neighbors of the 42-year-old electrical designer, Franz emerged as an intense individual of strong opinions and an eqully strong maverick disposition.
"If you put him in a room of 11 people and if everybody said the world was round, he'd say it was flat," said one longtime neighbor of his in the fashionable Bolton Hill section of renovated town houses near downtown Baltimore.
Samuel Graham, 21, also a neighbor, said, "As far as I'm concerned, he's not logical. I figured it would be him who'd mess it all up. He tries to show off." But others described him as a "stable, sensitive guy" who would "deliberate hontestly."
Fr. Francis X. Callahan, pastor of the Corpus Christi Parish, of which Franz was once president, described him as "a man of deep conviction, religious and otherwise."
Franz had phoned him since the verdict, he said. "Tom says he wants to talk about the case. He doesn't seem to be at peace." the parish priest said.
Juror Stevarlon A. Gross, a 19-year-old Silver Spring resident, recalled Franz's role during the jury deliberations.
"The first day we walked into the deliberating room, after the marshals shut the door. Franz said, 'We're hung,'" she said. Gross said Franz refused to explain the remark.
In the jurors' first poll among themselves, she said Franz found themselves, she said Franz found some of Mandel'd codefendants guilty on some counts but found the governor not guilty. On the second vote, she said, Franz's was the only vote for acquittal on all counts for all six defendants.
"That is when we raised our voices a little" Gross said."It really threw us. I thought the man was going crazy . . . When we asked Franz why he found them not guilty, he said, 'I don't care what you show me, they're not guilty, and if there was a scheme Mandel didn't know about it.'"
Repeatedly during the jurors' 114 hours of deliberation. Gross said, "Franz would say, "They were friends together, they grew up together, why shouldn't they have given the governor money?'"
When Franz finally relented on the final vote by show of hands late Monday. Gross said the jurors suggested he sleep on it overnight.
Yesterday, Franz sought to explain his ultimate decision to concur in the guilty finding. "I did not vote my feeling . . . (that) no crime had been committed by the defendants," he said.
"But when you apply the circumstantial evidence to the law, everyone was guilty all the way," he said. "I feel they are all not guilty, although they made a lot of mistakes that could be prosecuted."
Franz said, "I was for acquittal all the way, and did not vote for conviction until the final vote tally begun last Monday at noon.
"It (the case) was a borderline situation in which I could vote either" for innocent or guilty. "The judge charged us to come to a decision, unanimous if possible, unless a decision would do violence to our conscience," Franz said, recalling Judge Taylor's recharging of the jury one week after deliberations began.
"I though that even if I voted with the majority (for conviction) whey would have a better chance (for acquittla) on appeal, so it would come out all right in the end," he said.
The governor and his five codefendants were improperly charged under a "misapplication of the law" which needs to be re-evaulated," said Franz, who is not an attorney. "I feel the decision needs to be overturned, I feel that way, yes," he said.
"I reached my final decision at rest, after prayer," he said.
In the beginning of the deliberations. Gross said, "Franz was running the show. He was doing a lot of talking, he was reading the documents we had out loud, he was deciding the method of voting." Toward the end, she said, Franz became quiet.
In the jurors' hours away from the deliberation room. Franz worked on a toy model rocket and became quite a gamesman, according to fellow jurors. In particular he became known as the "Monopoly" champion of the group.
Juror Sandra Brooks said Franz also exhibited what she considered a stubborn streak by refusing her pleas for mercy during the playing of one table top game called "Sorry."
Brooks could not recall Franz asking a single question at the end of the deliberations. She said others joined Franz in a wish to sleep on their guilty verdict before signaling the court that a verdict was reached. "Maybe he has pangs of conscience." Brooks said of his post-trial remarks. "I know when I see the governor (on TV), my heart bleeds."