Showdown looming over Waco evidence

Associated Press, Oct 5, 1999

WASHINGTON - Attorneys representing surviving Branch Davidians and relatives of those who died during the 1993 Waco siege appear headed for a showdown with federal lawyers. At issue is the government's refusal to turn over information the plaintiffs demanded in their wrongful-death lawsuit.

The plaintiffs' lawyers, who expect to go to trial early next year in their lawsuit against the government, say they believe federal agencies are wrongfully withholding critical evidence by claiming it is classified or falls under Privacy Act protection.

"There are a lot of documents which have been turned over to us, large portions of which have been blacked out," said lead counsel Michael Caddell, calling some of the evidence critical to his case. "And that, we'll be taking up with the court."

Mr. Caddell said he anticipates filing motions asking U.S. District Judge Walter Smith in Waco to examine the government's privilege claims. He intends to bring up the matter when both parties meet privately with the judge on Oct. 15.

Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin said officials plan to respond in court.

Co-counsel James Brannon is challenging the government's refusal to provide the names of certain participants in the final assault.

Federal officials - who are under orders to provide an avalanche of siege-related documents to Judge Smith's court, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno and a House committee that has issued subpoenas - are in the process of finalizing production, said Michael Bradford, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

Judge Smith on Monday approved a request by Mr. Bradford that the government be given 30 more days to produce requested documents that were due Oct 1.

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