A federal judge has turned down independent counsel Alexia Morrison's request that former assistant attorney general Theodore B. Olson be jailed for contempt of court unless he agrees to waive the statute of limitations in his case while he challenges the constitutionality of the independent counsel law.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., in an order dated last Thursday, said he could not rule on Morrison's request because the entire matter was in the hands of the appeals court, which the next day ruled the independent counsel law unconstitutional.
Under the five-year statute of limitations, Morrison, who is investigating whether Olson gave false or misleading testimony in 1983 during a House Judiciary Committee probe of the Environmental Protection Agency's "Superfund" scandal, could be prevented from bringing charges after March 10.
Olson was found in contempt last Aug. 19 for refusing to honor a court order to turn over subpoenaed documents. Morrison agreed that he need not be jailed, pending a speedy appeal of the issue.
Last December, however, Morrison warned the appeals court that time was running out. She asked Robinson to jail Olson for contempt unless he agreed to waive the statute of limitations pending the appeals court decision.
In another development, the special prosecutor who won a conviction of former White House aide Michael K. Deaver yesterday called on a U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to proceed with Deaver's sentencing Feb. 25 despite the appeals court ruling on the independent counsel law.
Independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr. said it would be "irresponsible" for Jackson to overturn Deaver's Dec. 16 conviction because an appeals court has declared the law under which Seymour was appointed unconstitutional.