NATION : North's Lawyers Promised Wide Latitude in Cross-Examinations

From Times wire service s

The judge at Oliver L. North's Iran-Contra trial told North's lawyers today that they would be given the widest possible latitude in cross-examining prosecution witnesses with classified material.

"I don't want to kill anybody . . . but beyond that . . . you have an open door," U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell told North lawyer Barry Simon, referring to the possibility that disclosure of classified information could harm someone.

Gesell said he is concerned about one aspect of how classified material might affect the trial. That is the use by the defense of classified parts of grand jury testimony, FBI reports and other interview notes in questioning witnesses.

Defense attorneys frequently use such materials in an attempt to attack the credibility of prosecution witnesses. Prosecutor John Keker pointed out, however, that for the most part, the witnesses to date have been sympathetic to North and the defense has had no difficulty getting their cooperation.

"It's more like milking a cow than a bullfight," said Keker.

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