5th Circuit Court Rejects Davidian Claim Against US
A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by survivors to collect damages from the government for the deadly 1993 confrontation outside Waco, TX, between federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian community, according to Assoictaed Press.
Without dissent, a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals late on July 7 turned aside contentions that a lower court judge who ruled against the survivors was biased.
Scores of Branch Davidian members, including leader David Koresh, were killed in 1993 when FBI agents stormed their compound after a 51-day standoff, following a shootout during a Feb. 28 raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
In September 2000 in Waco, US District Judge Walter Smith rejected their lawsuit, backing the government contention that agents did not use excessive force in their tear gas assault on the compound. Smith found the Davidians themselves set the fire that killed nearly 80 men, women and children, as the government has contended.
The appeal before the 5th Circuit basically dealt with one question: Was Smith biased against the Davidians because of remarks he made during the trial and his past relationships with government attorneys?
The Davidians had argued that Smiths comments on and off the bench showed deep-seated antagonism and preconceptions about the group.