Lynne Saunders was a law clerk for Chief U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange at the time of her interview. She was a Captain in the United States Air Force and a commercial real estate broker before graduating summa cum laude from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1993. She served as Judge Miles-LaGrange's clerk for four years before working in the title law and corporate and banking divisions of Crowe and Dunlevy, and then in medical malpractice and product liability litigation for Robert Alexander. Saunders left litigation to work for the Oklahoma Tax Commission before returning to clerk for Judge Miles-LaGrange when she became the Chief Justice. She has volunteered with Oklahoma Lawyers for Children.
If a researcher wishes to use the information gathered in this interview for uses other than educational or scholarly uses, they without further permission from the interview subject.
Below is a short selection of the interview with Lynne Saunders. You can listen to the full interview by visiting the Chickasaw Nation Law Library at Oklahoma City University School of Law.
Below is an excerpt from Ms. Saunders's interview and a link to download the full transcript.
KEK: That’s right, that’s right. Now, just to switch gears just slightly, were you here at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing? Were you working here?
LS: Yes, yes.
KEK: And, tell me about that time.
LS: We had just gotten here in November and our quarters weren’t ready yet. They were building the fifth floor quarters for us, so we were here on the third floor, in the inner part of the third floor just up the hall and down, there’s an inner corridor and that’s where our offices were. I remember, we park under Murrah Plaza, and I remember coming to work that day and I probably got here about 8:30 or so. And I was just getting off the phone with a friend, I was making plans for lunch and sitting at my desk and all of a sudden I thought I saw the walls move, like breathe. And I thought, “God, an earthquake?” And then something told me to move out of my chair, it was only God, I got under my desk. There was this big light thing, big thing, right over my head and it fell in my chair. Of course, we didn’t know what was happening, the alarms were going off, there was smoke and stuff everywhere. I remember calling for my partner law clerk, Jane, we were calling for each other. The judge was not in the building, she just drove in front of the building and Betty, at the time was her secretary, had brought stuff down to her because she had a meeting somewhere else. So, we grabbed each other and the marshals were running around, court security, trying to get people to the exit stairs, and I remember we left our purses; we left everything, and just made our way downstairs and couldn’t believe what we saw. All of the glass in front of the courthouse was blown out and as we walked outside, there was a hole in the Murrah Building. We could see right through it. It was absolutely chaos in the streets. Rescue people were trying to get here, people were just in a daze, didn’t know where they were going, didn’t know what was happening. I remember us walking across the street over here to, there’s a bank there, walking through the window because there was no glass there, trying to find phones to call people. One of our law clerks had a son in the daycare center and I remember him and his partner law clerk, Cindy Smith, running to the daycare. He was one of the 4 or 5 children that survived, thank God. But we did have someone in the court clerk’s office whose child died. And I remember not being able to get through to my husband, I remember my mom calling, trying to get to us because there were first reports that the federal courthouse had been bombed. So, my mom, I remember her telling me she said she had heard it on the radio; they lived in Maryland at the time. And she was like, “Oh my God,” so they were trying to get through to us but nobody could get through to anybody. Jane and I had started to head toward the direction of the Murrah Building and one of our law clerks, I think it was Judge Holloway’s law clerk, said, “Don’t go there, go back this way, you don’t want to see this.” So, he stopped us from going so that we didn’t have to see how bad it was. Then, they started cordoning off the area and telling people to move south, and so we just started walking. Jane and I were just in a daze; we had stuff all in our hair, and our faces and everything. And we ran into someone, I can’t remember now, some of the lawyers we knew, and they took us to their office. I don’t even remember, can’t tell you the name of the law firm now. But, it was not until then and they had the T.V. on that we found out what had happened. It was just surreal. But I remember it like yesterday.
KEK: It sounds like it. How did that event sort of change things here, I mean change things at the federal courthouse?
LS: Oh my God, the security went up like, just like it did after 9/11. It became a fortress. We were all impacted in some way. So many of us knew someone in the building who died. My judge went to many, many funerals. We went to the funeral of the little baby that died and that was all I could bear. I couldn’t go to any more. But, safety became top priority and of course, as you can see, they built the federal building now where you can’t even get near it. You’re not allowed to park anywhere around us, more cameras, more magnetometers. We became a fortress.
KEK: And how did it affect you on a more personal level?
LS: I believe that I was saved for a reason, I believe I’m a survivor. It made it more real to me that God is in my life and is protecting me. I did not die that day for a reason, I wasn’t finished with what I had to do here. It was a real spiritual type of impact for me. I think that’s it, I think that’s how I can best explain it.