FindLaw Legal News: Special Coverage: Waco
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 FindLaw Commentary
by Solomon L. Wisenberg of Solomon L. Wisenberg, PLLC L.L.P.

  • The Waco Advisory Verdict
  • Waco Civil Trial Preview
  • The Curious Order of Judge Smith
  • Bill Johnston Resigns Amid Waco's Unanswered Questions
  • The Very Unusual Letter of Bill Johnston
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     Waco News Page 1 of 4 Page [1] [2] [3] [4
  • Waco Inquiry Failed to Test Correct F.B.I. Gun, Official Says(Associated Press 6/01/01) A simulation that helped lead anindependent inquiry to conclude that F.B.I. agents did not fire their guns intheir siege of the Branch Davidian compound eight years ago never tested thetype of assault rifle that the agents had there, an official who helped run the testsays.
  • FBI Termed Uncooperative in Waco Probe(Washington Post 6/01/01) The FBI was so uncooperative in the Waco investigation that special counsel John C. Danforth threatened FBI Director Louis J. Freeh with a search warrant to gain access to relevant documents, Danforth said yesterday in an interview with The Washington Post.
  • Ex-Davidian prosecutor could be jailed(Dallas Morning News 6/01/01) Former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston could face jail time when he issentenced next week by a St. Louis federal judge because the Wacospecial counsel has withdrawn a pledge to recommend probation.
  • Ex-prosecutor guilty in Davidian case(Dallas Morning News 2/07/01) Former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston pleaded guilty to a felonyTuesday in St. Louis, admitting to withholding information about theuse of pyrotechnic tear-gas canisters in the Branch Davidian siegefrom the Waco special counsel.
  • Ex-prosecutor takes deal in Davidian case(Associated Press 2/06/01) Former U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston will plead guilty Tuesdayas part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors who accusedhim of obstructing the investigation into the 1993 siege of the BranchDavidian compound near Waco, a newspaper reported.
  • Ex-Waco prosecutor wants charges dismissed (Associated Press 1/11/01) Felony charges against former assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston should be dismissed because he is being held to a higher standard of conduct than other government officials involved in the Branch Davidian siege, his lawyer says.
  • Ex-prosecutor declares he's innocent in Waco case  (Post-Dispatch 11/14/00) A former federal prosecutor said Monday he will "let the process run its course" now that he has declared his innocence to charges he obstructed the investigation into the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
  • Waco case prosecutor enters plea  (The Dallas Morning News 11/14/00) A former government prosecutor pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of obstructing the investigation into the 1993 siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
  • Former U.S. attorney is accused of obstructing Waco investigation  (Post-Dispatch 11/09/00) A former federal prosecutor who played a major role in the government's siege of the Branch Davidians was indicted by a federal grand jury in St. Louis on Wednesday on charges that he obstructed the investigation of special Waco counsel John Danforth.
  • Former Waco prosecutor indicted  (The Dallas Morning News 11/09/00) Former Waco federal prosecutor Bill Johnston, who helped expose a six-year cover-up of government actions in the Branch Davidian siege, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of obstructing the special counsel's investigation that he helped set in motion.
  • Danforth indicts lawyer in Waco probe, wants S.A. attorneys fired  (San Antonio Express-News 11/09/00) Ending a detailed review of the disastrous 1993 Waco siege, a special counsel Wednesday urged the Justice Department to fire two San Antonio federal prosecutors and indicted their former colleague.
  • Former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston indicted by special grand jury  (Waco Tribune-Herald 11/08/00) Bill Johnston, the former federal prosecutor from Waco who claims he is being retaliated against for blowing the whistle on a Justice Department cover-up, was indicted Wednesday on charges that he lied to a federal grand jury and obstructed Special Counsel John Danforth's Branch Davidian investigation.
  • Probe called awkward for attorney pair  (San Antonio Express 10/28/00) They convicted a governor, interrogated the president and sent a judge's assassin to prison for life. But now, after nearly 30 years of pursuing South Texas corruption and conspiracies, it is their turn to be investigated.
  • Grand jury witnesses allege testimony isn't needed  (Post-Dispatch 10/27/00) Supporters of former Waco siege prosecutor Bill Johnston say their appearances Thursday before a federal grand jury in St. Louis were unnecessary and an effort to intimidate them.
  • More subpoenas issued for grand jurors examining Davidian case (The Dallas Morning News 10/25/2000) Five more Central Texas residents have been subpoenaed by Special Counsel John Danforth to appear next week in St. Louis before federal grand jurors re-examining aspects of the Branch Davidian investigation.
  • Prosecutor's supporters seek immunity from subpoenas in Davidian case (The Dallas Morning News 10/25/2000) Five supporters of former Waco federal prosecutor Bill Johnston filed a motion Wednesday seeking to block the special counsel's office from forcing them to testify before a federal grand jury investigating government actions in the 1993 Branch Davidian siege.
  • Report: Clinton, Reno deceived public about Waco tragedy (The Dallas Morning News 10/19/2000) A Congressional report released Thursday alleges that President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno misled the public for years with claims that U.S. military experts endorsed the "flawed" FBI tear gas attack that ended the Branch Davidian siege.
  • Judge blames sect for Waco tragedy (The Dallas Morning News 9/21/2000) The Branch Davidians' long-running wrongful-death lawsuit ended Wednesday with a federal judge's ruling that they and not the government were responsible for the 1993 tragedy.
  • Davidians have prison terms cut (The Dallas Morning News 9/20/2000) A federal judge has more than halved the federal prison sentences of five Branch Davidians and also cut five years from the sentence of a sixth, ensuring that all could be free within less than six years, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.
  • Davidians' attorney vents anger at judge (The Dallas Morning News 9/13/2000) Continuing a legal grudge match, the lead lawyer in the Branch Davidian wrongful death lawsuit filed a caustic motion Tuesday asking U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. to remove himself and declare a mistrial in the case.
  • Prosecution of whistleblower could backfire (The Dallas Morning News 9/13/2000) Waco special counsel John C. Danforth won't confirm that a key whistleblower in the cover-up of the Branch Davidian siege is being targeted for prosecution.
  • Danforth seeks to repair rift with judge over Waco case (The Dallas Morning News 9/09/2000) Special counsel John C. Danforth met privately Friday with U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr., trying to repair a rift created when the special counsel's investigators recently threatened to indict a former federal prosecutor who turned whistle-blower in the Branch Davidian case.
  • 2 More Waco Prosecutors Said to Be at Risk of Charges (New York Times 9/02/2000) Two federal prosecutors who helped send several Branch Davidians to prison may face prosecution themselves on charges that they withheld information about government actions in the siege at the group's compound near Waco, a lawyer involved in the case said today.
  • Waco Whistleblower Faces Indictment (Washington Post 9/01/2000) The whistleblower who sparked a probe into whether the federal government was responsible for the deaths of 74 Branch Davidians near Waco, Tex., has been notified he faces criminal charges after acknowledging he withheld notes from special counsel John C. Danforth's investigators and misled a federal grand jury about the papers.
  • Danforth reportedly targets Waco siege whistleblower (Dallas Morning News 9/01/00) The former prosecutor who warned last year of a possible cover-up of federal actions in the Branch Davidian siege has been told he is being targeted for prosecution by Waco special counsel John C. Danforth.
  • Waco secrecy fed public mistrust, Danforth says  (Post-Dispatch 7/23/00) Special counsel John C. Danforth was amazed that most Americans were willing to believe, without evidence, that the government intentionally burned up a group of its citizens at Waco, Texas, in 1993.
  • Interim report clears government of wrongdoing at Waco  (Post-Dispatch 7/21/00) Citing "overwhelming evidence," special counsel John C. Danforth Friday said that the preliminary results of his investigation into the confrontation with the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, in 1993 cleared the government of any of the "dark questions" he was asked to look into.
  • Waco: What's next  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) Judge Walter Smith will consider the jury's advice and issue a final ruling possibly as soon as August. He must decide whether federal agents were responsible for the gunfight that left four agents and six Branch Davidians dead in 1993 and whether the government was responsible for the fire 51 days later during which more than 80 Davidians died.
  • Jurors retain anonymity  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) When a federal judge read the verdict Friday in the Branch Davidians' $675 million damage suit, the five-member jury had already left the courthouse.
  • Judge Smith's comments  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) Lead plaintiffs' attorney Michael Caddell took the highly unusual step of strongly criticizing Judge Walter Smith on the courthouse steps after Thursday's proceedings in the wrongful-death lawsuit of Branch Davidians and survivors against the government. He said the judge was "trying to engineer a verdict" and criticized his instructions to the jury, as well as his decision to combine all the plaintiffs - including men, women and children holed up in the compound during the 51-day siege - into one group. Mr. Caddell said he thought the law should allow separate consideration of the death or injury and actions or negligence of each individual.
  • Jury's findings reverberate across capital, country  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) A Texas jury's quick finding that the government bears no liability for the deadly 1993 Branch Davidian siege drew sighs of relief in federal law enforcement circles Friday and dismay in some other quarters.
  • Davidians didn't expect to beat government  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) Branch Davidians accepted with a sense of resignation the news that a federal jury doesn't believe the government was responsible for the tragic events in Waco.
  • What the jury decided  (Dallas Morning News 7/15/00) The jury came back after 2 1/2 hours of deliberations on Friday with an advisory verdict clearing the government of any wrongdoing during the 1993 Branch Davidian siege in Waco. Here are the questions the judge asked the jury to consider, and their unanimous answers:
  • The case before the jury  (Dallas Morning News 7/14/00) U.S. District Judge Walter Smith will ask jurors to answer unanimously a four-step series of questions to reach a verdict in the Branch Davidian wrongful-death lawsuit:
  • Sect lawyer says judge ignoring law  (Dallas Morning News 7/14/00) A plaintiff's attorney complained Thursday that a federal judge appeared to be "ignoring the law" and trying to "engineer a verdict" favorable to the government as both sides finished presenting evidence in the Branch Davidian wrongful-death lawsuit.
  • Davidian children shot, stabbed, autopsies show  (Dallas Morning News 7/13/00) Several children in the Branch Davidian compound on the final day of the 1993 siege were shot and at least one was stabbed, according to autopsy reports presented Thursday in a wrongful-death trial.
  • Fire at Waco complex probably was set inside deliberately, expert testifies  (Post-Dispatch 7/12/00) An expert testified Wednesday that the high heat and speed of the fire at the Branch Davidian complex suggested that the fire had been set intentionally by people inside the buildings. The expert was James G. Quintiere, a professor of fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland. He said three or four fires started within two minutes, just after noon April 19, 1993.
  • Agent backs FBI use of tank in siege  (Dallas Morning News 7/12/00) The tank that ripped down the rear of the Branch Davidian compound wasn't trying to demolish the building but was trying to clear a path to get tear gas into the sect's hiding place, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.
  • Davidians in excerpts discuss setting fire around sect compound  (Dallas Morning News 7/11/00) Branch Davidians, overheard on FBI eavesdropping devices, made jokes about federal agents dying at the start of a 1993 standoff and also laughingly discussed their belief that God would take them "like flames of fire."
  • Davidians gave orders to 'spread the fuel,' tapes show  (Post-Dispatch 7/10/00) Branch Davidians joked about the possibility of becoming a "charcoal briquette" the day before the fatal fire the ended in the death of about 80 people. Then, the day of the fire, Davidians gave orders to "spread the fuel," "pour it," "pass the torch" and "light it."
  • Government seeks end to gunfire claim  (Dallas Morning News 7/09/00) Government lawyers again have asked a federal judge to throw out a claim of government gunfire at the end of the Branch Davidian siege, renewing their argument that the charge springs from faulty science and can be disproved with basic mathematical analysis.
  • Rangers testify of gas, torch  (Dallas Morning News 7/08/00) Texas Rangers said that they found a blackened torch and four fuel cans in the Branch Davidian compound's dining room and were told by a surviving sect member that the fire that consumed the building was fueled by Coleman gas.

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     Documents
  • Bill Johnston letter and statement
  • Text of letter from special counsel's office to Michael Kennedy
  • The Tragedy of Waco: New Evidence Examined
  • Special Counsel John Danforth's Report
  • Order of Judge Smith
  • House Committee on Government Reform Investigation
  • FBI Press Releases
  • Justice Department Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas: Adobe Acrobat PDF File (13MB)
  • Justice Department Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas: Adobe Acrobat PDF File (101MB)
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     Related Sites
  • Waco Re-examined (Dallas Morning News) Provides a comprehensive archive of articles related to the Branch Davidian siege and the latest news.
  • Waco: What Really Happened? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Waco News file (Time Magazine)
  • The Waco Investigation (Washington Post)
  • Waco Investigation Full Coverage (Yahoo!)
  • Waco NewsMax.com Hot Topics
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