SACRAMENTO — A Superior Court judge Thursday ordered Atty. Gen John K. Van de Kamp to produce documents defense attorneys argue will show that Van de Kamp selectively prosecuted Republican Assemblyman John R. Lewis for forgery while ignoring similar offenses by Democrats.
Judge James I. Morris granted a motion by Lewis' attorney, Clyde M. Blackmon, which Blackmon said he hopes will later prompt the judge to dismiss the single felony charge against the five-term lawmaker from Orange.
"What we would like to find is evidence that they made a decision to prosecute a Republican for political reasons," Blackmon said. "They have consistently decided not to prosecute Democrats."
Lewis was indicted in February by a Sacramento County Grand Jury in connection with the mailing in 1986 of hundreds of thousands of campaign letters bearing the phony signature of then-President Ronald Reagan. Witnesses before the grand jury testified that Lewis directed that the letters go out without White House approval and later told aides to lie to cover up his involvement, according to the transcript, which was made public.
Denies Politics Had Role
Van de Kamp, a Democrat and candidate for governor in 1990, has repeatedly said that the decision to prosecute Lewis was not based on politics. The prosecutor in the case, Deputy Atty. Gen. W. Scott Thorpe, said Thursday that he is "not troubled" by the judge's order.
"This is not going to show any discriminatory enforcement or prosecution," Thorpe said. "The filing decision was not based on which political party the defendant belonged to. It was based on his conduct."
In papers filed with the court, Blackmon cited several cases in which Democrats sent campaign mailers that, he said, were later disavowed by their supposed authors. Included were letters sent by state Sen. Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk), Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Carson), and Assemblyman Willard H. Murray Jr. (D-Paramount). None has been prosecuted.
Blackmon stopped short of predicting, however, that the evidence produced by his motion would lead to a dismissal of the charges.
"I don't like to count my chickens until they are in the pot, stewed up and ready to eat," he said.