Lewis Loses Legal Bid to Keep Transcript Sealed
The 3rd District Court of Appeal on Thursday summarily denied an appeal by Assemblyman John R. Lewis (R-Orange) to keep sealed the transcript of proceedings of a grand jury that indicted him for his role in forging Ronald Reagan’s name on campaign letters mailed in 1986.
As a result of the action by a three-judge panel, the 350-page transcript is expected to be made public today.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge James Morris ordered the release of the transcript but gave Lewis time to appeal. Clyde Blackmon, Lewis’ lawyer, argued that if the document was made public it could “infect and inflame” potential jurors in the case.
Blackmon said he was disappointed that the Court of Appeal rejected his motion, adding that it was extremely unlikely that he could appeal to the state Supreme Court before the transcript is scheduled to be made public.
The document could be politically embarrassing, if not damaging, because it contains the sworn testimony of several Republican aides, political consultants and direct mail specialists.
Underscoring the sensitivity of the transcript, Henry Olsen, a former GOP legislative staffer who testified before the grand jury, urged Morris on Thursday to keep the transcript sealed because it was potentially damaging to him. Morris rejected the appeal.
Christopher H. Wing, Olsen’s lawyer, argued that his client’s privacy would be invaded by the release of the transcript. Olsen, who once worked in Lewis’ office, is now a student at the University of Chicago Law School.
Lewis was indicted Feb. 6 on one count of forgery for his role in mailing thousands of campaign letters in 1986 that bore the phony signature of then-President Reagan. After the letters were mailed on behalf of six Republican candidates, the White House denied that the endorsements were authorized by Reagan or his staff.