ABSTRACT: This article analyzes the two major legal trials involving surviving members of the Branch Davidian sect that was involved in the fiery conflagration outside of Waco, Texas, in 1993. The criminal trial, which took place in 1994, and the wrongful death civil trial against the federal government, which occurred in 2000, are analyzed from the perspectives of the sociology of law and deviance theory. The analysis presumes that both trials were social productions designed to present a certain definition of the situation and the parties involved in that situation. Using the analogy of the trials as socially produced dramas, this article describes the ways that discretion operated within a judicial system acting in a normative role, with special attention paid to the role of the judge in both cases.
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