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Court Denies Davidians Damages in Claim Against U.S.

July 16, 2003  | 

Survivors of the 1993 confrontation between the FBI and members of the Branch Davidian cult may not collect damages from the government for a wrongful death claim filed in 2000, a federal appeals court ruled.

On Feb. 28, 1993, federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, looking for stockpiled automatic weapons and hand grenades. Four federal agents and three Davidians, including leader David Koresh, were killed.

In 2000, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith ruled against surviving members of the Branch Davidian cult in their wrongful death claim.

Survivors appealed the decision, citing Smith as biased against them based on comments he made during the trial and on his past relationships with government attorneys.

The 5th Circuit Court had to decide if Smith had, indeed, been biased against the Davidians when he made his ruling.

“We conclude that appellants’ allegations do not reflect conduct that would cause a reasonable observer to question Judge Smith’s impartiality,” Chief 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones wrote for the panel.

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