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Special Event

Florida Supreme Court Spokesman Craig Waters Lays Out Timeline for Gore Appeal

Aired December 5, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET

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

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Want to take you now to the Florida Supreme Court, where Craig Waters is about to have a statement.

CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: Katherine Harris, George W. Bush, and others, this is the case that was in Judge Sauls' court that the First District Court of Appeals certified to this court yesterday evening.

The Supreme Court will hear oral argument at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, December 7th, 2000. We're going to follow some special procedures that are in written document that will be available to you after, after this announcement.

There will be a maximum of 30 minutes per side for a total of one hour of arguments scheduled. Again, as you all know, if the justices wish to ask questions beyond that period of time, they can extend the period if they wish to.

We have asked that briefs be filed also dealing with the question of whether the court should exercise its jurisdiction by noon Wednesday, December 6th.

Now let me go over some special procedures. Those of you who were here at last oral argument, we are going to follow very similar procedures to what we used before. There will be 28 reserved seats for the press in the courtroom. We will once again have a lottery system. The box is available in the building for you to put your identification, a business card, copy of your credentials or whatever to be included in the lottery.

Once again there will only be one seat per news organization and by news organization we mean the largest entity, such as a network or whatever.

Other seats will be available, those that are not reserved for attorneys and parties on a first come first serve basis, and once again the line will start forming at 8:00 a.m.

Once the space in the courtroom is full, no one else will be permitted into the building. Apart from court personnel, there will be three still photographers, one will be chosen by the Associated Press. The two others will be designated by other photographers covering this news event. As for broadcast matters, once again, the court has designated Pat Roberts of the Florida Association of Broadcasters to coordinate the broadcast matters, including satellite uplinks and malt boxes and that sort of thing. So please coordinate with them.

Now, Tom Hall, the clerk of court, also has a few comments to make.

TOM HALL, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CLERK: There have been a few filings this morning. In addition, we've gotten this order, the more detailed order that Craig just read from. We are going to revert back to the procedure we were using last week for handing out copies. If people will line up according to the way the marshal wants you on the steps, we will let people in five at a time to go to the press room to get copies and then come back out. We will do that pretty much the next couple of days for handing out of copies.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Craig, what is the timetable and procedure on the Supreme Court remand matter? And what can you tell us about somehow the court combining the two cases?

WATERS: We just don't know at this point about whether these various cases will be combined.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how the justices spent their morning this morning after receiving the official certification from the...

WATERS: I know they were meeting. I don't know where or in what manner. As I have told you before, they meet in many different ways discuss, sometimes formally, sometimes informally. But they did meet to go over and prepare this order that I just read portions to you, so that was the product of their labors this morning.

QUESTION: What else did they go over, for example, transcripts were delivered to them this morning by attorneys for the Gore campaign?

WATERS: Those are routine filings. We did receive the transcript from Judge Sauls' order. That is now available on our Web site. Once again. we are posting documents on the Web site as soon as we get them, and that is usually your best source for getting documents first.

As I told you, we do sometimes run into delays getting paper copies, but we put them up on the Web as soon as we can.

QUESTION: I always like to talk about deadline, can you give us any sense of how quickly the court will continue to move along, as they have already in this matter?

WATERS: Once again, this is a case that has been certified as a matter of great public importance, requiring the immediate resolution by Florida's highest court. The court takes the word immediate very seriously, and so this will be an expedited matter. QUESTION: Will there be a decision on Thursday?

WATERS: We do not know yet when there will be a decision. I just cannot predict that at this point in time.

Any further questions?

QUESTION: Did have the option of not hearing this case at all. Can you explain the fact that they have agreed to take it on, does that signify anything?

WATERS: I should emphasize that under this order, the court has not actually decided the jurisdictional issue. They are including that with the oral argument. This is something that is sometimes done whenever the court wants to address that issue during oral arguments as well.

So, in a formal sense, the court has not actually taken the case. It is simply scheduling arguments and will hear arguments on the jurisdictional matter, as well as on the substantive matters, when the case is heard.

QUESTION: Does that mean it is theoretically possible that yet another set of oral arguments could be scheduled at a later time once the court formally decides to accept jurisdiction?

WATERS: I have not seen that happen. That could be possible, if there were a motion for rehearing, for example, the court sometimes does grant a second oral argument for rehearing; that happens fairly rarely.

QUESTION: What is the correct term to use for what they've done today?

WATERS: They have scheduled oral arguments that are dealing simultaneously with the question of whether the court should hear the case and the issues in the case as well.

QUESTION: The Supreme Court remand matter, the court gets briefed today at 3:00.

WATERS: Right.

QUESTION: What happens then? Could there be oral arguments in any way on this?

WATERS: Well, on the remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the briefs are due in at 3:00 today. At that point in time, the justices will then resolve the issues in that case.

QUESTION: You can expect to get copies of those briefs once they are filed?

WATERS: Why, as Tom Hall told you, we are going back to our regular system of distributing briefs, and they will be up on the Web. But again, until we get briefs in the case on the remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the court has not made any determination of taking the case or scheduling argument or anything like that.

QUESTION: Has the court decided to accept the amicus brief, the friend of the court brief, filed yesterday by the Florida Legislature?

WATERS: Yes, the court has agreed to accept the amicus brief filed by the legislature.

QUESTION: Which case is that?

WATERS: Tom, is that in this case?

HALL: Yes, the court has entered an order granting the motion of the legislature to file a brief in the remand case from the United States Supreme Court. And that brief is due also at 3:00 today.

QUESTION: Since the court has not scheduled oral arguments on the remand issue, is it unlikely that there will be oral arguments on that case?

HALL: You can answer.

WATERS: We just don't know at this point. Until the court gets the briefs and reviews it, they cannot make any decision like that. We just have to wait for their decision.

Any further questions?

QUESTION: Saying there was some question about this court taking the remand case? or hasn't it taken the case?

WATERS: Well, the remand is certainly pending here on the remand from the U.S. Supreme Court. And once we get the briefs, the court will then determine how to proceed.

But we are obviously -- we have instructions from the highest court in the land, and our judges are bound to obey the law of the land.

Thank you.

SESNO: Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters laying out a very, very important timeline, that is briefs on this case, due by noon tomorrow, from the Bush and Gore sides, oral arguments now scheduled for one hour, they could go longer if the Supreme Court justices so determine for 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. This dealing with Judge N. Sanders Sauls' ruling yesterday that the further manual recounts were not warranted. A clear victory for the Bush campaign.

What is happening here, moving very quickly down the road towards some degree of resolution, perhaps final resolution to this contest in election 2000.

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