The U.S. judge who will pronounce sentence on Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel on Friday says he will do so without the traditional sentencing recommendations from prosecutors and probation officers.
Although government attorneys and probation employees often make such suggestions to federal judges in Baltimore, where Mandel will appear for sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Taylor said that is not the practice in his home district, in Knoxville, Tenn.
"Sentencing is the sole prerogative of the court," Taylor said in a telephone interview yesterday, "I'd like to get someone else to do it, but the law requires that I do it myself."
Taylor already has received presentences reports from the office of federal probation officer Francis Tunney, but he has instructed Tunney's office not to include a recommendation on Mandel and the five men convicted with him Aug. 23 on political corruption charges.
"I told them I just wanted the facts, the background," Taylor said.
Taylor said he told chief prosecutor Barnet D. Skolnik that he "didn't want anything" in way of a recommendation from his office either.
Mandel, Irvin Kovens, W. Dale Hess, brother William A. and Harry W. Rodges III, and Ernest N. Cory Jr., each were convicted at 17 counts of mail fraud and at least one count of violating antiracketeering laws. The govenor, who will be removed from office upon sentencing, and his friends could receive up to five years imprisonment and $1,000 in fines on each of the mail fraud counts and up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines on the racketeering counts.
Taylor admitted that he is "all worked up and distrubed, as I always am," at the prospect of sentencing a former high-ranking public official.
The judge said he will follow "exactly the same" procedure with Mandel that he did upon sentencing former Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner four years ago.
Taylor, who presided at that trial in Chicago, permitted Kerner, who then was a judge of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to make a 12-minute plea for leniency.
He then ordered Kerner to serve three years in prison and pay a fine of $20,000 for his conviction on 12 counts of conspiracy, bribery, fraud and tax evasion.
The Mandel and Kerner trials not defendants were governors, but in that both involved corruption associated with race tracks.
Both Mandel and kerner were convicted of favoring race tracks owners in return for bribes.
A regular observer of the 77-year-old Taylor in his Knoxville courtroom described Taylor as a "humane judge" who appears to "go easier" on contrite first offenders than on defendants with previous criminal records who are pats of "gangs or rings."
At the sentencing of Kerner, on April 19, 1973, Taylor told the disgraced ex-governor, "You have already suffered. You have undergone searching investigation, examination and cross-examination and you have sat for seven weeks in this courtroom as witnesses testified against you. Finally, you waited 15 hours for the jury to perform a most difficult, heart-rending act."
Among the motions that Taylor must rule on before sentencing Mandel are ones that relate to the length of the deliberation (113 hours over 13 days) and suggestions that the judge coerced the apparently stalled jury into making a decision.
Such motions, however, seldom result in a reversal of a conviction, legal sources said. After sentencing, the defense attorneys formally will appeal the verdict to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mandel and his codefendants are expected to remain free on bond pending resolution of those appeals, which would drag on until next spring.