A federal judge Wednesday rejected Oliver North's request to show at his trial videotaped segments of immunized congressional testimony by his former boss, former national security adviser John Poindexter.
"Admiral Poindexter's testimony selected for presentation distorts the record from the congressional proceedings," said U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell."The case is winding down now and the motion just filed comes too late," the judge stated in a four-page order. The prosecution would have to present its rebuttal by examining all of Poindexter's testimony.
"The editing of 30 hours of testimony cannot be evaluated in the short time given to the independent counsel" prosecuting North, said Gesell.
Defense lawyers had said portions of Poindexter's prior testimony are "critical to the defense, particularly on the issue of official knowledge and authorization of Lt. Col. North's activities."
North also had said that excluding the videotape would be unconstitutional. But Gesell said "the constitutional claim is misplaced." The judge said North seeks no material that "if excluded, would arguably deprive him of his due process rights."
North had asked to show three to four hours of Poindexter's videotaped testimony which he gave on Capitol Hill to the committees investigating the Iran-Contra affair.
"The limitation on North's right to present evidence in his defense must be balanced against the effect this would have on the ability of the independent counsel to present the full facts to the jury," said Gesell.
Poindexter has asserted through his legal counsel that if called to testify, he would invoke his constitutional rights and refuse to answer questions.
Poindexter, a co-defendant charged with North in the Iran-Contra affair, is to be tried separately later this year.
Poindexter is charged with conspiracy, theft of government property, obstruction of Congress and making false statements to a congressional committee. North is accused of lying to Congress and the attorney general as well as altering and destroying documents.