Firm polling Eagle County residents about Bryant case

Updated: August 19, 2003, 11:33 AM ET

EAGLE, Colo. -- A polling firm has begun interviewing residents about the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, research legal experts say could be used by the defense to ask a judge to move the trial.

Sheriff Joseph Hoy, whose office investigated the case, was among those interviewed, his spokeswoman said.

Paul Talmey of Talmey-Drake Research & Strategy Inc. confirmed Monday that his firm was conducting a survey in Eagle County, but he wouldn't say who he is working for or whether the poll is connected to the Bryant case.

Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said prosecutors were not conducting such a survey. Attorneys for Bryant did not return a call for comment.

Bryant, 24, is charged with sexual assaulting a 19-year-old woman at an Edwards hotel June 30. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex. The NBA star is due to return to Colorado for a preliminary hearing Oct. 9.

Among other things, the sheriff was asked how long he has lived in the county and whether he had been following the Bryant story in the media, sheriff's spokesman Kim Andree said.

Legal experts said defense attorneys often commission such surveys to help determine whether to ask a judge to move a high-profile case.

"I would be doing a telephone poll to find out who's prejudiced in the community, whether they'd made up their minds due to publicity," said Walter Gerash, a criminal defense attorney in Denver. "If they did, I'd make a motion to change venue, and if they didn't, I'd keep a record for appeal."

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