WASHINGTON — A jury of four men and eight women was impaneled Monday for the perjury trial of former White House aide Michael K. Deaver, paving the way for testimony to begin after opening statements today by the prosecution and the defense.
Deaver, 49, President Reagan's former deputy chief of staff, sat at the defense table taking notes on a yellow legal pad as attorneys made their final selections for the jury, which is mostly middle-class and predominantly black. Screening of 100 potential jurors had begun a week ago.
The jurors who were seated told U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that they could lay aside any biases for or against the policies of the Reagan Administration, in which Deaver served from January, 1981, until May, 1985. All prospective jurors had also been questioned about their attitudes toward alcoholism, expected to be a key factor in Deaver's defense.
Deaver, who is charged with five counts of lying under oath about his post-government lobbying activities, is expected to claim that his memory of certain activities was clouded by excessive drinking. Thus, his lawyers will argue, he never deliberately tried to mislead a federal grand jury and a congressional subcommittee that investigated his business affairs last year.
With the jurors excused from the courtroom, Jackson late Monday sought to calm a simmering dispute over the actions of Whitney North Seymour Jr., a court-appointed independent prosecutor, who recently wrote a harsh letter to try to compel the testimony of Canadian Ambassador Allan E. Gotlieb as a prosecution witness.
Because Deaver had a $105,000 contract to represent the Canadian government during his first year in private business, Seymour has wanted Gotlieb to testify about his dealings with Deaver to prove that Deaver had lied in saying he never had a luncheon meeting with Gotlieb in January, 1985, while still working at the White House.
However, Gotlieb has claimed diplomatic privilege in refusing to testify, and the judge has refused to support Seymour's efforts to subpoena him.
But Seymour stirred new protests from the Canadians and the State Department by writing an attorney for the Canadian Embassy here to say that he might have to emphasize Deaver's allegedly unlawful actions for the embassy unless Gotlieb relented.
Deaver's chief attorney, Herbert J. Miller Jr., asked Jackson to admonish Seymour and to dismiss a perjury charge relating to the Gotlieb luncheon. But Jackson denied the motion, saying he could find no fault with Seymour's letter to the Canadian attorney.