Appellate court won't bar release of Packwood data

February 19, 1994|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Packwood lost a major round yesterday in his legal fight with the Senate as a federal appeals court gave ethics investigators access to his private diaries as early as Tuesday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here turned down the Oregon Republican's emergency plea to keep his diaries secret. The senator sought to block release of the diaries while the court considered his constitutional challenge to a subpoena of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

For more than 14 months, the committee has been investigating charges of sexual misconduct by Mr. Packwood involving more than two dozen women.

The investigators lately have been looking at other charges that BTC used his position to help his former wife financially and that he tampered with the diary tapes and transcripts after the committee became interested in them.

The Circuit Court panel said it would consider the senator's appeal, but not until a hearing May 12 -- long after the committee would have examined much of the diaries.

The court also raised significant doubt that the senator ultimately would win his challenge to the Senate-approved subpoena issued by the committee four months ago.

The senator, the court said yesterday, "has not satisfied the stringent standards" for emergency protection against the subpoena.

U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Jackson ruled last month that Mr. Packwood had no constitutional right to withhold the diaries. The judge said the turnover of the diaries to the Senate investigators could not begin until Tuesday.

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