A federal judge yesterday told government prosecutors he would order presidential counselor Edwin Meese III to testify in the case of a former Yale student who has refused to register for the draft.
U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., after reading several internal memos and documents that the government had resisted giving him, said he also would order portions of some documents turned over to attorneys for David Wayte.
Hatter told Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Romero that the government would have a week to decide whether to appeal his order on grounds that it would violate the right of presidential advisers to keep their deliberations secret.
Wayte's attorneys, led by American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, have argued that Meese and other officials participated in plans to indict only young men who publicly identify themselves as refusing to sign Selective Service cards.
Hatter has ruled preliminarily that the government appears to be guilty of illegal selective prosecution, and has asked the government to introduce evidence to the contrary. Romero has said that government investigators and attorneys are working to identify and prosecute some of the estimated 500,000 young American men who have failed to fill out registration cards but have not announced their decision publicly.
In Wichita, Kan., meanwhile, a Mennonite college student charged with failure to register for the draft has changed his plea in federal court from not guilty to no contest.
Kendall Warkentine, 21, a Bethel College student, said he will allow himself to be convicted of the charge if the judge will accept the plea.
Warkentine's attorney said his client's actions were based on religious beliefs.