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Deaver's Use of Alcoholism as Defense OKd

October 02, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Lobbyist and former White House official Michael K. Deaver today won court permission to raise alcoholism as a defense at his upcoming perjury trial.

Attorneys for Deaver, appearing at a hearing in U.S. District Court on several motions pending before the scheduled start in two weeks of his trial on five counts of lying about his post-government lobbying work, said the former top aide to President Reagan had twice checked into a detoxification program at Georgetown University Hospital--the first time just weeks after he left his White House job.

"He was a drinking alcoholic," said Deaver attorney Randall Turk, arguing that Deaver's condition impaired his ability to recall specific episodes while under oath before a federal grand jury and congressional subcommittee.

"No one will question (that) people under the influence of alcohol have their memory impaired," Turk said. The former White House chief of staff was hospitalized June 3, 1985, and in October, 1986, and was heavily medicated with Librium and Valium, he said.

Deaver was also hospitalized in January, 1985, for kidney failure, a complaint often linked to alcoholism.

U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Jackson, who will oversee the trial scheduled to begin Oct. 19, dismissed arguments by the independent counsel in the case, Whitney North Seymour, in allowing the defense to present expert testimony on the drinking issue.

"You have persuaded me this is a classic jury issue," the judge ruled.

But Marc Gottridge, a member of the independent special prosecutor's staff, said there was no evidence that Deaver's alcoholism caused amnesia that would explain why he was unable to remember certain contacts as a lobbyist.

"He is referring to an alcoholism-induced amnesia syndrome," Gottridge said. "There is no scientific evidence that just because of alcoholism a person forgets things done months and months ago."

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