The political corruption trial of Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel, scheduled to begin here Wednesday, was postponed again today until May 31 after four doctors testified that the governor needs more time to recover fully from his illness.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Taylor, showing some impatience with the postponements, warned that on May 31 he expects to "come up here and go to trial. I'm tired of all these motions" for delay, he said.
The first trial was aborted last Dec. 7, after 13 weeks of testimony when jurors were exposed to news reports about two jury tampering incidents.
Weeks of sophisticated tests since Mandel was hospitalized in early April have failed to pinpoint the exact nature of his aliment. His physicians have suggested that he suffered a "slight stroke" in the left side of his brain that impaired functions on the right side of his body.
Dr. Marvin Korengold, a Bethesda neurosurgeon told Judge Taylor that he examined the governor last Thursday and that Mandel "showed essentially the same deficits" as he had observed during an earlier examination in Prince George's General Hospital on April 21.
The chief U.S. prosecutor, Barnet D. Skolnik, argued against a delay, saying that "if we wait until all the doctors agree that it's O.K. . . . this case will never go to trial."
Judge Taylor said Mandel's absence from the courtroom today "distresses me very much . . . I would like to have seen him, asked him some questions," Taylor told Mandel's lawyer and doctors. "I can't conceive that appearing here today (as Taylor had requested) would have jeopardized his life and health."
While only one (W. Dale Hess) of the five codefendants was present today, Mandel did communicate directly with the court and public for the first time today in an affidavit read by his lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner.
The governor said "I have always taken pride in my vigor and general good health. When the symptoms of my present illness first appeared, I attempted to deny them, even to myself, and I pressed ahead with a full schedule and long work days, which were usual for me. I acceded to Dr. Hookman's (Dr. Perry Hookman, his personal physician) request for a hospitalization only after my fatigue, pain and discomfort became severe and when my lack of coordination became obvious and disabling."
Since returning to the governor's mansion in Annapolis, the governor said that he was followed a schedule in accordance with his physician's instructions.
"I awaken at 9 to 9:30 a.m I do certain exercises prescribed by the Prince George's physical therapist for my right side. After dressing, I go downstairs for breakfast. Since I am only permitted to walk steps once a day, a downstairs room has been set up for me.""
I spend the morning resting on a sofa, usually reading. In order to minimize the chances of my becoming involved in a stressful situation, there is no telephone in this room. I have lunch at about 1 p.m. and I take a nap from about 1:30 or 2 p.m. until about 3 p.m. I remain in the same room resting until dinner time.
"I have not seen more than one or two people a day, and in each instance the visits have been brief.I returned to my upstairs bedroom after dinner and I go to sleep at approximately 9:30 to 10 p.m
"When I left my usual surroundings for several days, for cruises on the same routine. The only other time that I've been out of the house has been for the purpose of being taken to the doctor."
Mandel said that he becomes "quickly fatigued". The governor has found it difficult to concentrate on any matter for any length on time, and when he has tried, he has become extremely tense and weary and developed headaches. He said that he had "repeated episodes of nauseousness and stomach discomfort," between last Monday and Thursday that apparently were attributable to a virus infection.
(Lt. Gov. Blair Lee today said he was told by Jeanne Mandel that the governor collapsed with nausea and a fever on the deck of the state yacht last week, and was returned quickly to Annapolis for care, according to Associated Press)
The governor wrote that "there has never been anything in my life which was of greater importance to me than the present case. I realize that I am charged with the most serious offenses and that my entire future hangs in the balance. I am highly sensitive to the fact that, if I am not vindicated, I face loss of the governorship, disbarment and permanent destruction of the good reputation which I have spent most of my life trying to maintain. I know, too that conviction of these charges might also result in a substantial term of imprisonment."
Taylor, the third judge assigned to the trial since Mandel and five codefendants were indicted in November, 1975, told the doctors that "I respect your opinion - Hopkins (University) is the last word in medicine - but we've got to go trial some time."