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The Inside Track

Firm Begins Bryant Poll

August 20, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A Boulder, Colo., polling company has begun sampling the opinions of residents in Eagle County, where Kobe Bryant could be tried for felony sexual assault.

Paul Talmey confirmed Tuesday that his firm, Talmey-Drake Research and Strategy Inc., is surveying people in Eagle County but declined to discuss the nature of the questioning or who had retained his services.

It is assumed Bryant's defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Harold Haddon, are paying Talmey to explore if a change of venue in Bryant's likely trial is necessary in a county where less than 1% of the population is black. A spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Mark Hurlbert said his office has not ordered a survey.

"I can't say a word -- that's the way everyone in this business operates," Talmey said.

Eagle County Sheriff Joseph Hoy, who supervised Bryant's July 4 arrest on suspicion of felony sexual assault of a 19-year-old Eagle, Colo., woman on June 30, said he was recently interviewed by an employee of Talmey about the Bryant case.

"He asked me if I thought [Bryant] could get a fair trial and if I thought he was guilty or innocent, and I told him I could not answer questions about the case," Hoy said.

Craig Truman, a Denver-based defense attorney, said such polling is done to measure the effect of pretrial publicity, in likely preparation for a change of venue argument. He described Talmey's company as "the hotshots, probably the best in the state."

Bryant is due back in Eagle County for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 9, when Judge Frederick Gannett will determine whether a jury trial is required.

"I personally don't do polls anymore, because what happens, even if you have the world's best poll, is the judge still says, 'You're poll is fine, but it's not the jury pool, so let's bring the jury pool out here and see what they have to say,' " Truman said. "Polls are a waste of money."

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