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Special Event

Gore Hearing Contesting Florida Recount Under Way in Tallahassee

Aired November 27, 2000 - 4:26 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the Gore team officially contested the results in Florida this afternoon, and already a hearing has begun in Leon County. That's where Tallahassee is, and that's where we find CNN's Gary Tuchman, who can bring us the latest about that -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, in courtroom 3D behind here in the Leon County Circuit Courthouse in Tallahassee, the judicial wheels have started spinning in Al Gore's complaint against the results of the Florida election.

This is the 24-page contest filed today alleging that many votes for Al Gore were uncounted and many votes were improperly counted.

So right now the hearing is under way. Judge M. Sanders Sauls is presiding. He's 58 years old, a graduate of the University of Florida Law School. This appears to be mostly an administrative hearing. They are setting a schedule for how this will work out. It's expected to go very rapidly, and ultimately will most likely go to the Florida Supreme Court.

Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PHIL BECK, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: ... prefer to do that in private.

JUDGE N. SANDERS SAULS, LEON COUNTY CIRCUIT: Well, what would be Wednesday? I don't know why -- it just seems to me that I could just say four days answer or respond in four days.

BECK: It's fine with us, too, Your Honor.

SAULS: Who's going to howl that loud, I don't know.

But at the same time, on that fourth day from the date of this filing, then the plaintiffs need to furnish it at that same time, on the fourth day, their list of witnesses and their exhibits. At least we can get some of this at least started, and then I would think -- what would you think, three days after that for the defendants to answer -- I mean file their list of witnesses and exhibits? If you do that, you've used up seven days, and then you've got to have some reasonable period for discovery, and I fear that if you use then seven days for that, then what have you got, two days left? I don't know...

BECK: Well, Judge, we're...

SAULS: ... where you're going to go with that timeframe, time schedule.

BECK: From the Bush side, we are prepared to cooperate and move forward on discovery expeditiously while we're drafting an answer and motion to dismiss.

BECK: We haven't heard who their witnesses are. We've read their complaint and they have a lot of factual allegations on a lot of complicated points. And we've seen their press conferences where they've had some of their witnesses...

SAULS: Well, we're not going to litigate this in the newspaper or on TV.

BECK: So we need them to tell us who they expect to call to prove these points. And we can start taking their depositions before we've even answered the complaint, as far as we're concerned. We agree that we want to move forward expeditiously.

If they'll tell us their experts, we can start taking their depositions tomorrow or the next day; that will allow us to figure out who we need bring in on the other side. Once we've identified and prepared ours, they can take our experts.

So I think we can make a lot of progress and still afford all the parties an adequate opportunity to file meaningful, responsive pleadings.

SAULS: Well, now you're suggestion is to, perhaps, have them go ahead, as quickly as they could, and furnish you the list of witnesses and exhibits that they expect to utilize, which might facilitate your answer, and also you being able to confer with your clients and also anticipate who you might wish to...

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: Exactly.

SAULS: Well, let me find out from the plaintiffs.

Can I get any type of response to that? You've heard some of these objections and we've got to figure out our time frame here. Is some of that reasonable? For example, would three or four days for them to be able to respond, would that be something that's adequate from your side, if they could do that on theirs?

SAULS: And at the same time, would you have any objection to going ahead and furnishing your list, your witnesses and your exhibits, so that you could do that, say, within two days from today, so they'd have two extra days for whatever purpose?

That's normally not -- normally you're going to answer and then -- but maybe if we have some of this, maybe we won't have just a carte blanche denial, maybe we can get some answered admissions, and perhaps, if they have some more information, maybe not so many without knowledge and therefore can't admit or deny.

DEXTER DOUGLASS, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEYI'm going to say just a little bit and then it over to David.

SAULS: All right.

DOUGLASS: First of all, we have to move this as quickly as we can in order to reach an end result in this case. And I think, after hearing counsel for Governor Bush, that we certainly would like to meet with them and see if we could work out a schedule that's agreeable to them. I think they are the other ones that are equally interested in moving this case.

Some people like to drag these beyond the time that you can be reasonably sure something can be done. We all know what the deadline is here. There are some things that we think should be done without regard to the question of when you file pleadings, when you do discovery, and these sort of things, and I'd like to ask Mr. Boies to address that.

SAULS: We're going to take those up in just a minute.

DOUGLASS: I think it's pertinent to this. With Your Honor's permission, I'd like for him to address the whole subject. But I think what I just mentioned, there are a couple of things that are pertinent to this scheduling, too, that I haven't mentioned, that he will.

SAULS: Well, let me just say then, by all means I'll hear you in just a minute, but it seems to me we need to get something going.

SAULS: And the first thing, I think, we just need to go ahead and just -- unless you have a position you want to immediately respond back on this, is they need to file their responsive pleading. And is four days too long? Can you do it in three?

And can you furnish them your -- do you have any objection to furnishing your list of witnesses and your exhibits in two days, a day before, then, they file their response?

If not, we'll go ahead and set that. Then we'll schedule another scheduling hearing to give you an opportunity to see if you can't do what all trial lawyers do, and that is, work you out a time frame that you all realize you've got to work under.

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEYYour Honor, we're prepared to file our responsive pleading in three days. With respect to our response to their witness and exhibit lists, I would like to request the court to give us an opportunity to see them first.

SAULS: That's what I'm saying.

RICHARD: Yes. We'll either work out an arrangement with them or we'll come back to you for further guidance.

SAULS: Well, what I said is, if they would -- you'll respond -- you'll file your answers or such other appropriate response as you deem appropriate within four days. And within two days of today's date, two days from now, they will furnish you -- and we'll go ahead and set some time periods. Do you want it by 5:00? Close of business? They'll furnish you in advance their witness list and their exhibits -- a list of their exhibits.

And then you will have -- you'll file your answers or responses, but I would think within at least a day or two after that then you should furnish them your witness list and exhibits, or the next day.

SAULS: That would give you at least a day to look at this. It may not be enough time, you'll probably need two days.

RICHARD: I think we'll be able to get it done in two days, Your Honor. My only hesitation is that we don't know what areas they're going to bring experts in on.

SAULS: Well, let's try to set that up initially and if anybody gets caught short, then we'll have a quick hearing. And, if we have to, we'll do it by telephone. But we'll just set those basic items and then we'll leave the matters of the discovery cut-off and others matters, you know, to a further hearing in a day or so, after you all have had the opportunity to maybe work out some of these.

DOUGLASS: Your Honor, to possibly solve that, and this may be agreeable to them.

SAULS: (OFF-MIKE)

DOUGLASS: If they have two days from the time we give them that list, which we will give them very promptly, I think that would help move the case and give them an opportunity to have enough time to look at what we're offering in the way of witness list and any experts we're going to have.

And if that doesn't -- if, after seeing that, which I don't think they will, they need to suggest another day or something, we'd be glad to meet with them and furnish them that list as promptly as we could, which would probably be tomorrow. And then they could be in a position to answer in two days from the time we gave them that list, and that would help us move the case.

(CROSSTALK)

SAULS: ... just use the time. If you serve it earlier, then they need to move their next date up.

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEYWe'll try to do that, Your Honor.

SAULS: And, of course, in simple matters here, like there's no objection to having your services by hand delivery on liaison counsel, for example, is there? (UNKNOWN): No, Your Honor.

SAULS: All right, done. That's how we'll proceed. And other than that, I guess that's about all we perhaps can do with this.

Now, let me go ahead and hear -- Mr. Boies, was there some other matters then or is this sufficient at this time to get us moving?

BOIES: I think this helps to get us moving, Your Honor. I think we -- also, one of our motions was to get the ballots, the contested ballots here to the registry of the court.

SAULS: All right. We start taking up on your other motions now to hear those. Is that what you were going to...

BOIES: I think so, Your Honor. I think that is the one motion that we probably need to take up today, if we can.

SAULS: All right.

BOIES: And then the other motions perhaps we can meet with other counsel and see if we can work it out.

SAULS: All right. Now I need the volunteer. Who's going to prepare me their proposed order for the limited timeframe that I've just announced? I need a volunteer.

BOIES: Well, we'll work together.

SAULS: I have a volunteer? Then submit it to opposing counsel for any objection as to its form and content. But that's effective from the bench as of now.

BECK: We're going to work together with them.

SAULS: All right.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor, we're not on their side or their side. There are at least three sides and maybe four. The secretary of state and the canvassing commission are not on the side of either of the political candidates. And I'll be happy to serve as liaison to counsel, or my partner John Shuster (ph), to have these things checked off.

And then also the canvassing boards, I think there's one here, I need to know if the other one's been served yet.

SAULS: Well, I need to find out who's representing these individual canvassing boards, because we haven't gotten them.

SAULS: So your hereby designated liaison there. Mr. Douglass, your liaison?

DOUGLASS: Mitch Berger SAULS: Mr. Berger. All right.

And then, someone on this side? Do I have a liaison counsel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barry Richard.

SAULS: All right, Mr. Richard.

Now, we need also to have somebody to try to communicate as quickly as possible. There are people, I suppose -- are there people...

STAFF: Yes, sir. Two representatives out here with television systems. (OFF-MIKE)

SAULS: Well, let's find out who we've neglected. Can you hear?

MAURY GREENBERG, MIAMI-DADE CANVASSING BOARD COUNSEL: Your Honor?

SAULS: Yes. Who is this?

GREENBERG: This is Maury Greenberg (ph) in Miami, representing the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board. And I believe Gary Rutledge (ph) is in the courtroom also representing...

SAULS: I'm looking at him right now.

OK. So that board is represented.

Who else do we have?

ANDREW MCMANN, PALM BEACH CANVASSING BOARD COUNSEL: Your Honor, also on the telephone, from West Palm Beach. My name is Andrew McMann (ph), Palm Beach County Canvassing Board.

SAULS: All right.

Then who else does that leave out now that is not here? Either telephonically or in person?

Is it one other? What? Nassau?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nassau County, Your Honor.

It doesn't sound like they're here, sir.

SAULS: All right. Then counsel for Palm Beach and Dade.

I don't know, Mr. Rutledge. Can you see me there?

GARY RUTLEDGE, MIAMI-DADE CANVASSING BOARD COUNSEL: Yes, sir.

SAULS: Do any of you have any objections to the limited time schedule or timeframe that I've just attempted to establish?

RUTLEDGE: We do not, Your Honor.

GREENBERG: Speaking from Miami-Dade, Your Honor, we do not. Though, I would point out that, as of this moment, the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board has not yet been served. We're assuming we will be served. We have no problem with the timeframes, Your Honor, as established.

SAULS: All right. Be looking for the sheriff, I assume.

(LAUGHTER)

SAULS: Who else do we have?

MCMANN: Sir, Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. We also have no objection to the timeframe that Your Honor set forth.

SAULS: Bless you.

All right, then I will need to -- Mr. Rutledge, since you're here, I'll pick on you. Since you represent one of the canvassing boards, can I request that you at least give some telephone notice to whomever you can find that may be representing Nassau, just as a courtesy? Or is that going to create a problem -- just to inform them of the time schedule?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, be glad to, assuming counsel for plaintiffs can give us the appropriate information, Your Honor.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Your Honor.

SAULS: They'll probably be more receptive to the information if it's from a co-defendant rather than the plaintiff, but let me charge the plaintiff with notifying them too and that way we've got double coverage.

All right. Then where are we now? We need to go back to your motions. What's your pleasure? You've got some requests to produce and you've got some motions concerning the registry of the court.

DOUGLASS: Judge, I want to request that at the next hearing we have a chair.

SAULS: A chair?

DOUGLASS: Yes.

SAULS: All right.

DOUGLASS: I don't want to stand in everybody's way. Beside, I don't like to stand up a long time.

SAULS: See if you can find Mr. Douglass a chair.

DOUGLASS: Well, I don't think it's the court's administrative fault. Just more showed up and got here first.

SAULS: (OFF-MIKE)

(LAUGHTER)

BOIES: Yes, sir.

Your Honor, both the request to produce and the motion to have the ballots brought into the registry of the court is designed to get the contested ballots here, in Leon County, before the court. My understanding from Mr. Zack, who spoke to the lawyers for the Miami- Dade Board, is that they do not have an objection to this court ordering that those ballots come here. I hope the same thing is true for the Palm Beach County Board.

SAULS: Can you hear?

MCMANN: Yes, Your Honor.

We only have one -- we don't have any objections to bringing the disputed ballots from Leon County, but we are also under a court order issued by Judge Labarga here in the 15th Circuit that we make all of the ballots available for public inspection. It was supposed to begin today. We didn't get the logistics up therefore, that's supposed to start now tomorrow.

I don't know how long -- how many ballots he would like to look at, but the request is for all the ballots, so the 450,000, but if Your Honor wants to order us bring them up there expeditiously, we'll be happy to go back to Judge Labarga and ask him to terminate the public inspection period.

SAULS: No, I'm not going to try to do anything contrary to the judge's order. But let's find out if we can do this some other way.

I assume you wish to have -- you've got maybe a twofold purpose; that is, to preserve the ballots, ensure the integrity of the ballots in the condition that they are in, and also have the opportunity to make such discovery as you look at the ballots. These ballots, apparently, are being held by the duly authorized officers under Florida law; that is, the supervisors of elections. And they're charged with the duty of safeguarding those. If we need to perhaps see if we can beef up some security, if that's a concern, that's a matter that perhaps we can attend to.

And then, as far as them being available for discovery, perhaps, you know, if they're there and they are then -- if you come in and notify them when you wish to, for purposes of discovery, to look at them, is there any problem with going there to do that? And that way we're not running contrary -- I was not aware, that Judge Labarga in Palm Beach has issued an order down there, then he'd have to do something with that, rescind it or vacate it or...

GREENBERG: Your Honor?

SAULS: Yes? GREENBERG: This is Maury Greenberg in Miami. We have no objection to what Your Honor is suggesting.

However, in view of what has happened, we feel it would be imperative and we would urge Your Honor to set forth with specificity, after we meet with the supervisor of elections, the exact time, manner, place, location, who can come in, all the security necessary before anybody is allowed to touch or look at any of these ballots. With parameters set by the court, we will be more than happy to comply with anyone else, Your Honor.

BOIES: Your Honor, first, with respect to Miami-Dade, where we do not have an outstanding judicial order, we would try to work out a proposed order, settle it on them, see if they have any objection.

If not, present it to the court. And, obviously, we would give a copy to the other parties, as well, for their consideration.

With respect to Palm Beach County, we are only seeking to bring up here the contested ballots, approximately 3,000 ballots. And the purpose of bringing them up here is not merely for safeguarding purposes -- we hope and expect they're being safeguarded in Palm Beach County -- but also so they can be reviewed here by the lawyers who are working on this matter, and so that they can ultimately be reviewed, either by the court or by a special master or both.

These are obviously ballots that ultimately the court has got to make a judicial on. And because of the timeframe, we want to get them here so that that can proceed as soon as the court is prepared to turn to that.

SAULS: You say 3,000 in Palm Beach, and how many in Dade?

BOIES: Approximately 10,000. This is of the 500,000 or 600,000 ballots that are there in their entirety. We're not asking for all the ballots, we're only asking for the ones that are contested.

SAULS: Let's find out what the other parties (OFF-MIKE)

GREENBERG: Your Honor?

SAULS: Yes?

GREENBERG: Miami-Dade here again. With all respect to Mr. Boies, and we do want to cooperate, it's not just merely a matter of working it out with us. We would need the Republican Party and the Democratic Party to agree to a procedure and then submit it to us, Your Honor. With all due respect, I think that's the most -- the quickest way to accomplish what the board is trying to do.

SAULS: Well, I was just going to call on the other parties here, because they're going to be participating in the discovery and we have to hear from them, too. He's made that suggestion as far as your client's concerned. Now, we need to find out if there's any objections to that from any of the other parties as to -- Mr. Klock, do you have any position on that, sir? KLOCK: It would depend, again, on the procedure that's followed, Your Honor. We'll obviously cooperate. As long as no ruling is being made that those are the only ballots that are in question. If they want to bring up a certain number of ballots and the arrangements can be made, that's fine. But I assume that the court is not pre-judging that those are the only ballots that would be considered to in that county or that state.

SAULS: I have no idea. But apparently you have no objection to that, Mister...

DOUGLASS: Suggestion, which we really haven't had a chance to discuss, but if we could, I think we could resolve this pretty quickly one way or the other, between counsel as to how we're going to handle this matter, recognizing that the problems in the future that might arise.

DOUGLASS: I think if you give us that opportunity, we may be able to do it. If we don't, then we could come back and present each side to the matter.

RICHARD: Your Honor, in fairness to Mr. Douglass, I need to state what our position is, so that we don't leave with he has a false sense that I've agreed we can work this out.

What this motion is leading to, Your Honor, is not preservation of these ballots. I don't think anybody is fearful that the supervisors will not preserve these ballots appropriately. What it's leading to is the plaintiff's next motion, where they're asking this court to appoint masters to begin doing what these boards have already done, and count these ballots again.

It's our position that there is no authority, either in law or the rule or the statute, for this court to appoint a master once again to do a recount of these ballots. That's the first thing.

SAULS: Well, I can't get to that motion, Mr. Richard, until we get the issues joined here; that is, your client as well as the other defendants have had an opportunity to answer or respond and then we proceed.

RICHARD: Well, I agree entirely, Your Honor. I'm just saying that I see no reason to make these supervisors ship hundreds of thousands of ballots up here for the sole purpose of their being counted by a master before Your Honor even reaches the threshold question of whether or not there's an authority or basis for doing that.

SAULS: Well, that's the reason -- I thought if it was a matter of discovery it might be easier for counsel to go where the ballots are -- and they're in safekeeping -- rather than having them brought up here.

RICHARD: I agree, entirely.

SAULS: I think we've explored this. And perhaps you all can think about it and come up with a better resolution. But at least, we've brought it up here and we do need to -- apparently -- do you have outstanding requests for production to these defendants? Or is it just this appeal that's been filed here?

BOIES: The only request for production is the request for the production -- that's outstanding is the request for production of the ballots, I believe, Your Honor.

SAULS: So it's a limited number.

BOIES: And it's not hundreds of thousands of ballots. It's approximately 10,000 ballots from Miami and approximately 3,000 or 4,000 ballots from Palm Beach.

MCMANN: Your Honor, this is Andrew McMann from the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board.

I did see reference to these outstanding discovery questions. We did get served with a copy of the request to the supervisor of election for Miami-Dade, but we have not yet seen the request for production directed to the county -- the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections.

MCMANN: I assume that's just an issue of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We've let counsel's office at Berger, Davis know that we hadn't received any of them.

SAULS: All right, well, let's do this. Why don't I just order that you respond within two working days to their request to produce ballots? If you object or you're not able to work it out in the meantime, do it like in normal course. But here on an expedited basis, you got an objection, they'll set it down for hearing, we'll hear it. All right? Satisfactory?

BOIES: Thank you, Your Honor.

SAULS: All right. Next, what's on your list? Now you want to -- well, that, sort of, entails your motion to place these in the register of the court. That's a little premature right now, would it not be?

BOIES: Your Honor, I think that motion has to await the resolution of the motion to produce.

SAULS: Right.

BECK: Your Honor, I'm assuming we'll just add that to the order we're preparing on the first issue.

SAULS: Very good. All right. We're making some progress.

Now, what's the next item that you have here? We're going to retain the motions concerning any special master appointments. Those will remain under submission subject to further hearing and argument and response. And then we have -- do we have any other motions then that need to be taken up today? If not, I believe... BOIES: I don't think so, Your Honor.

We would ask the court, though, to set down the motion on the special master promptly. There's obviously going to be an objection to it.

We believe that under the election contest statute, particularly subsection 8, the court has broad powers to make sure that this is resolved. We are going to be working, and I'm encouraged by counsel's statements that they're going to cooperate and work expeditiously to get this done, but there will come a time when, if there is no special master, the court, or multiple judges of the court, are going to have to look at ballots to make a judicial determination. And that has got to be an unappetizing prospect...

SAULS: I need stronger glasses.

Well, let me ask you this. Can't we resolve that perhaps, sir, by just going ahead and scheduling a hearing on that that would occur a day or two days after their time to file their answers?

SAULS: Would that be appropriate, counsel?

RICHARD: That'd be fine. I think two days would be fine.

SAULS: I mean, that gives you a set date. And we're now talking about them having four days. And you can go ahead and schedule it with Ms. Marlene (ph).

BOIES: I would agree, Your Honor, in the usual case that would be very expeditious.

However, if you're focusing on the fact that we all know...

SAULS: Is the matter of law you say we can bring up at any time?

BOIES: I think it's just a matter of law that could be brought up before the answer. I think it's important to get it resolved quickly, because we've got to get as much out of the way as we can, so that there's an opportunity for the court to make a resolution and then everything seems to go on appeal in this case.

SAULS: All right. Well, let me go back to the well again and see what kind of compromise or agreement we can work. Mr. Richard?

RICHARD: It sounds to me, your honor, when counsel says it's just a matter of law that what he's asking this court to do is to effectively grant the relief that they're asking for before we even have a trial...

(AUDIO GAP)

ALLEN: Well, we apologize. The microphone seems to be going there that the pool camera is using. So we'll try to see if they can work on that, and we'll talk about what's going on here. This is the first hearing since the Gore team has officially contested this election, and they seem to be trying to figure out the logistics of how they move from here. The Gore team has to present its exhibits and witness list for the Bush team to look at. The gore team would like to bring all these disputed ballots into the courtroom there in Tallahassee. And as you saw, they also need more chairs in the courtroom for all the lawyers that are there as well.

Let's talk with David Cardwell, who's been listening along to this. David, our Florida election law expert.

What kind of sense are you getting of how this is going to play out, to how the Gore team is trying to proceed here as they contest this election in three counties, David?

DAVID CARDWELL, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, the hearing this afternoon is really sort of an organizational proceeding to try to get the logistics worked out on how to proceed. But as you can see, looking at the hearing and listening to the comments of counsel and from the judge, that there's a lot that has to be sorted out here, and this is just to get organized. They're not even to the issues. They haven't even gotten into the evidentiary phase yet, and already you're starting to hear about three and four days here and four days there. That can start running up the calendar up to our December 12th date very, very quickly.

Election contests, when they get to trial court, they do move much faster than customary litigation. But it's been my experience that even a contest less complicated than this one can still take two or three months even with the court trying to move it along. They're trying to do what's been done in two or three months in less than two weeks.

ALLEN: Right, and yes, we're well into December with this probably still going on, correct?

CARDWELL: Definitely. I mean, just the mere fact of getting the evidence collected to make sure it's secured, to be able to then go through that. They want to appoint special masters. They've got to find out who are going to be the special masters. There has to be some agreement as to who those people will be, what their responsibilities will be, the extent of their duty. Then there needs to be evidence taken, either through depositions or affidavits, and a look at the physical evidence. That takes time.

And both sides, as you heard, they want to exchange witness lists and then they want time to depose witnesses before they go to trial. These are things that in the normal course of business would take several months. They're going to try to do them in a few days.

That's a very difficult thing to do with the stakes so high here.

ALLEN: Absolutely. You could definitely get a sense of that. Even had people on the phone weighing in on this on what and how to move the ballots around.

And remind us, if this is still going on December 12th, what happens? And the Florida legislature could indeed step in here while this continues in the courts, right?

CARDWELL: Well, unless there is some court that tells this circuit court that it cannot proceed or if the parties drop the action, this contest will proceed to its end, whenever that may be. But you're right: There are two intervening factors. One can be the U.S. Supreme Court. If the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that it now has says there is no role for the Florida judiciary, the state courts in this dispute, then that would moot this election contest and throw it into the legislature or into Congress.

Also the Florida legislature, they're meeting tomorrow with their joint committee to discuss their options. They may jump in to try to take it out of the hands of the courts.

ALLEN: David Cardwell, we thank you. We'll be talking with you again as we continue to monitor the court proceedings. They will be extensive, and we'll continue to cover them all. And we'll continue to monitor what's going on in Tallahassee even though we lost audio there.

Now to Lou.

WATERS: And on that point. our man at the Supreme Court of the United States, Charles Bierbauer, who will bring us quickly up to date on what's going on there -- Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, time certainly is a consideration, Lou, and the Supreme Court knows that. And even though courts are cautious and deliberate institutions, they are moving expeditiously.

Tomorrow, both sides have to file their briefs with the court here, and those are the briefs in which they will answer the question posed by the justices as to what would be the impact if this court in Washington were to reverse the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. Certainly, that's a concern of the court here, since the Bush campaign has called for this court to reverse that court and in essence go back to the count, which was in hand after the initial machine recount, although that is at least consistent with the certification yesterday of Bush being the winner.

We would expect this court to move quickly after the arguments on Friday. Since this is not a trial court, it's an appeals court, the justices can move at their own pace. There is no deposition of witnesses or anything of that sort here.

Probably an opinion sometime next week. Probably -- Lou.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Charles Bierbauer at the Supreme Court. Looks like we're going to be here a while.

ALLEN: Yes, we will. Lou and I won't be here any longer today, but others will step in. "INSIDE POLITICS" is next. I'm Natalie Allen.

WATERS: I'm Lou Waters. Take care. ALLEN: See you tomorrow.

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