Virginia Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman said yesterday he was "not sure" that Gov. John N. Dalton "knew what the law was" when he recently attacked the state's Freedom of Information law as too broad.

Coleman's remarks came in an interview after a luncheon speech to the Northern Virginia Press Club in Springfield.

In his speech, Coleman, who helped write the Freedom of Information law, defended the principle of press freedom, saying he wanted to protect the state's newspaper from surprise police raids.

But in the interview Coleman said Dalton's remarks that the disclosure law may "have gone too far" could have been a product of misunderstanding. Coleman said his office recently sent Dalton a memo on the law saying that memorandums circulated within the governor's office were exempt from disclosure.

"The main thing" the governor has been saying was that "if he has a thought process, it shouldn't be . . .in the sunlight," Coleman said. "Suppose the governor is in the shower thinking about budget cuts?" Coleman asked rhetorically. "That shouldn't come out. Suppose he is at home at night thinking about his job, you can't get in there with him and question him about his mind."