President Carter is expected to testify - on videotape - as a government witness in the upcoming trial of Georgia state senator.
Tentative arrangements for the televised courtroom appearance - beleived to the first ever for an incumbent president - were completed earlier this week after consultations between the federal judge in Macon, Ga., Justice Department and defense attorneys and the White House House counsel Robert J. Lipshutz, sources said.
Though no formal request for the president's testimony has been received, the taping is likely to take place in Washington, perhaps at the White House, early next month, after the president returns from a trip abroad , the sources said.
Georgia state Sen. Edward Culver Kidd, 63, and Buford T. Lingold, a former county sheriff in the state have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they conspired to obstruct state gambling laws and lied to a federal grand jury.
Kidd said at the time of the indictment last week that Carter's testimony could help clear him. It seems clear from the indictment, however, that the president will be prosecution witness.
The indictment returned in Macon last week charges that as part of the alleged conspiracy, Kidd persuaded R. Eugene Holley, the majority leader of the state Senate in 1972, to approach then-Gov. Carter.
It is alleged that Holley told Carter that Kidd would vote for the governor's government reorganization bill in return for advance notice on gambling raids in this county.
After learning that Carter "had angrily rejected his proposal," the indictment said, Kidd called Ray Pope, the state's public safety director, to tell him "that a deal had been worked out with Carter" in which Pope was to provide the advance notice of raids.
The indictment's reference to Carter's "angry rejection" of the alleged proposal was based on Carter sworn affidavit that was presented to the grand jury, sources said.
It has been tentatively scheduled that defense and prosecuting attorneys, and U.S. District Court Judge Wilbur Owens, will come to Washington early next month to take Carter's testimony.
The use of videotape testimony has been permitted under the rules of federal criminal procedure since December 1975.
It is commonly used when a witness is too ill to appear in person or more recently for the taking of expert witness testimony. But it is also used for the Convenience or a witness if all the involved parties agree.
The participants in arranging Carter's videotape testimony were reluctant yesterday to discuss the details because the Georgia judge has ordered that no one talk to reporters about the case.
Demark Groover, Kidd's attorney, said in a telephone interview that he hadn't protested the judge's order because "it didn't make a damn to me. I'd just as soon not talk about it."
Lipshutz referred questions to the Justice Department. "I make it a practice not to discuss any pending litigation," he said.
Thomas Henderson, chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section, also declined comment yesterday.
Kidd, a democrat, attacked the Justice Department last week after his indictment, saying the charges might have resulted from the department's "frustration at not being able to destroy me a few months ago . . ."
The 30-year veteran of the Georgia legislature was acquitted last year on federal bribery charges that he had accepted $10,000 in cash to fix a 1975 drug case.
Kidd was known as a close ally of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox but a foe of Carter. He voted against Carter's pet reorganization project, which passed by 1 vote.