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Early Edition

Attorney for David Koresh's Grandmother Discusses Wrongful Death Trial Against the Government

Aired June 19, 2000 - 7:30 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: The 1993 federal operation against the Branch Davidians' compound is being revisited. The jury selection begins today in Waco, Texas in the wrongful death trial against the government. At issue is whether the government shares some responsibility for the deaths of more than 80 cult members.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, joining us now to talk about the trial is James Brannon. He is the attorney for David Koresh's grandmother, and suing on behalf of the estate of the Koresh's three dead children.

Mr. Brannon, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about this case this morning. what is it that you're going to be trying to prove in court?

JAMES BRANNON, PLAINTIFFS' ATTORNEY: Basically, Tony, we're going to be trying to prove that the government was careless in the planning of the raid, in the initial raid, in the force that was used at the initial rate, and then further on down the line, in the way in which they handled the events of the 19th of April, 1993.

HARRIS: How is it then that you settled on this figure of $675 million?

BRANNON: Those numbers, Tony, are just numbers. You have to give numbers when you file pleadings in court. The actual amounts will be decided by the judge, actually, in this case, not even by the jury.

HARRIS: So how is it, then -- what strategy will you take with you in the courtroom since the jury is not going to be a factor here?

BRANNON: I'm sorry, Tony, I didn't get that, could you repeat it please?

HARRIS: I just want to know what your strategy is going to be considering that you're not going to be playing to a jury in this case?

BRANNON: Well, you understand, we're going to try -- you ask about the damages issue, the millions of dollars, we're going to try the negligence or liability issues in front of a jury. So we will have a jury deciding whether the government did bear some of the responsibility for this series of tragic events.

HARRIS: All right, I apologize for the technical difficulties that you're not being able to hear, but let me ask you, finally, this morning, do you think that you will have a fair trial there in Waco. There have been a lot of people wondering whether or not you could have a fair trial if this was held in Texas at all?

BRANNON: I personally have no fear of the jury in Waco or anyplace else.

HARRIS: All right, James Brannon, we thank you very much for your time this morning. We'll be watching to see what happens in court.

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