your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Cobell fights effort to oust judge from trust fund case
Monday, August 29, 2005

The plaintiffs in the billion-dollar Indian trust fund lawsuit accused the Bush administration last week of making "utterly and completely false" allegations against the judge handling the case.

Responding to the administration's attempt to oust U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, the plaintiffs called for the request to be rejected "out of hand." In papers filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, they said the federal government has no grounds to have the Cobell v. Norton case assigned to someone else.

"During the proceedings in this case over the last nine years, Judge Lamberth has gained an in-depth understanding of the history of this case and its factual and legal issues which are fundamental to ultimately bringing this matter to a conclusion," the 36-page brief, filed late Thursday, stated.

"Far more than the 'inefficiency' described by defendants, reassignment would be catastrophic, requiring a new judge to perform the nearly impossible task of gleaning the knowledge gained by Judge Lamberth," it continued.

Describing the ouster campaign as "a direct assault on the integrity" of the court, the plaintiffs challenged the Department of Justice to back up its claims against Lamberth, who compared the handling of the Indian trust to the genocide of Native peoples in a July 12 ruling.

That ruling prompted Interior Secretary Gale Norton and her attorneys to ask the D.C. Circuit to reassign the case to a new judge. They said Lamberth has failed to follow precedent, has expanded the scope of the litigation and has been unfair to the government.

"The district court's sweeping, unqualified, and wholly disproportionate denunciations of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice create at least an appearance that the court will be unable to evaluate discrete undertakings by Interior -- or discrete submissions by Justice - fairly, dispassionately, and on their individual merit," Peter D. Kiesler, an assistant attorney general and Bush appointee, wrote in the August 15 request.

According to the plaintiffs, however, Lamberth's harsh treatment is fully warranted. They cited the recent trial testimony of an expert witness for the Interior Department who testified that past Bureau of Indian Affairs officials were racist.

Dr. Edward Angel, a historian and researcher, said former Indian commissioner Cato Sells believe white people were superior to Indians and made policy based on his views. In 1917, for example, Sells issued a "declaration of policy" that divided Indians into "competents" and "incompetents."

Competents, defined as adult Indians of less than one-half Indian blood, would be given complete control of their trust assets, according to the policy. Adult Indians "of one-half or more Indian blood" would be given patents to no more than 40 acres but only "after careful investigation" of their abilities.

"It means the ultimate absorption of the Indian race into the body polite of the nation," Sells declared. "It means, in short, the beginning of the end of the Indian problem."

Angel further testified that the BIA forced fee patents on Indian beneficiaries and then sold the land when the owners couldn't pay taxes. "Many of these patents were issued while the owners were over in France as part of our forces there," he said, according to the plaintiffs' brief.

Former assistant secretary Kevin Gover, who apologized to Native peoples in 2000 for their treatment by the BIA, also described the agency's history as negative. In court testimony, he said "you could have been employed in 1930 and worked a 25-year career to 1995, and gone from a policy ... that was to destroy these communities to one that was to reorganize and rebuild them, and then finally -- again to destroy them."

The reassignment request, and the appeal accompanying it, is the third currently before the D.C. Circuit. On September 16, the court will hear the administration's challenge to a broad historical accounting and structural injunction imposed by Lamberth. On October 14, the court takes on a contempt proceeding related to the Bush administration's successful ouster of the former special master in the case.

The effort comes as Congress attempts to resolve the case although the administration and Indian County are far part on a potential settlement. A coalition that includes the Cobell plaintiffs and major tribal organizations are seeking a $27.5 billion payment, a number that has been criticized by some lawmakers as too high.

Meanwhile, Cobell is visiting several reservations this week to update account holders on the developments in the case, and to hear their concerns and take them to Washington as the settlement legislation is refined. Today, she'll be in Idaho; tomorrow in Arizona; and New Mexico on Thursday.

Cobell also appears on the nationally broadcast radio program Native America Calling ( today at 1pm EST.

Relevant Documents:
Plaintiffs' Brief | Commissioner Sells Declaration of Policy

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -

Related Stories:
Cobell to update account holders on lawsuit (8/24)
Editorial: Fix trust fund, don't target Lamberth (8/18)
Norton wants Lamberth taken off Cobell case (8/16)
Cobell Letter: Ross Swimmer can't tell the truth (08/08)
Resolution of Cobell v. Norton appears far away (08/05)
Editorial: McCain and Dorgan should fix trust bill (08/04)
BLM CIO threatened with demotion in Cobell case (08/02)
Indian Country, Interior far apart on trust bill (08/01)
Editorial: Settlement of trust fund case at hand (08/01)
Appeals court stays Lamberth order on notices (07/29)
Judge blasts Interior on handling of trust (7/13)
Elouise Cobell: Principles put trust back into trust fund (07/07)
Cobell and Cason to appear on C-SPAN program (7/6)
Cobell calls for settlement of trust fund lawsuit (7/5)
Editorial: Resolution of trust fund debacle needed (7/5)
Editorial: Abramoff scandal can't compare to trust (6/30)
Opinion: Downfall of Indians traced to Army, BIA (6/28)
Pombo supports settlement of Cobell trust fund case (6/27)
Harjo: Tribes lobby to fleece their own people (6/24)
Editorial: Congress should settle trust fund (6/24)
Editorial: Trust fund a 'national embarassment' (6/22)
Indian Country united on trust reform solutions (6/21)
Trust workgroup to outline Cobell settlement goals (6/17)
Echohawk optimistic on settlement of Cobell case (06/03)
Final trust reform meeting held in North Dakota (6/3)
UTTC hosts meeting on trust reform legislation (6/1)
House panel acts to restore Bush budget cuts (05/05)
NCAI and ITMA hold second trust reform meeting (05/04)
Bush administration won't give up fight on Cobell (03/18)
McCain weighs GAO probe of Indian trust debacle (03/10)
McCain lays out Indian agenda for 109th Congress (3/7)
Norton won't testify on trust fund retaliation (2/28)
Bush official won't accept claims of trust mismanagement (02/17)
Appeals court won't hold back Lamberth on trust reform (12/13)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Lamberth exchanges harsh words with Cobell critic (08/02)
Bush administration calls for end to Cobell case (04/09)
Cobell trust fund suit mediators announced (4/6)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
Lamberth defends special master against attack (03/16)
Anderson praises Cobell suit in NCAI speech (2/25)
Tribes still frustrated on trust reform (11/20)
Bush officials blasted by tribal leaders (11/19)
Cobell plaintiffs disputing trust fund rider (11/17)
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill (11/04)
Norton welcomes time-out in Cobell trust fund case (11/4)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Republicans push controversial Indian energy bill through House (10/9)
Navajo Nation leaders headed to campus following fatal shooting (10/9)
Native Sun News: South Dakota community honors Code Talkers (10/9)
Lakota Country Times: Native Americans arrested at high rates (10/9)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota immersion remains our only hope (10/9)
Steve Russell: Indian people stuck with the laws of colonizers (10/9)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Native people play key role in politics (10/9)
Julian Brave NoiseCat: Trading tribal sovereignty for marijuana (10/9)
Studio denies theft of tribal artifacts from ranch in New Mexico (10/9)
Omaha Tribe hosts basketball stars Shoni and Jude Schimmel (10/9)
Winnebago Tribe chooses eight in special election for council (10/9)
Students from Salish Kootenai College send satellite to space (10/9)
Pamunkey Tribe sees challenge to federal recognition decision (10/9)
Six indicted for stealing funds from Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (10/9)
Kris Lane: Columbus was clearly not a friend to Native peoples (10/9)
Researchers adapt Korean alphabet for use in Native language (10/9)
Excavation at Indian city uncovers numerous signs of conflict (10/9)
Thomas St. Dennis: Don't let rival tribe stop Little River casino (10/9)
Viejas Band opens new gaming floor and hotel with expansion (10/9)
White Earth Nation plans hotel and RV park at third casino site (10/9)
Eastern Shoshone Tribe to debut expansion of casino in 2016 (10/9)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe adds competition to casino scene (10/9)
White House blasts Native American Energy Act ahead of vote (10/8)
House Natural Resources Committee approves two Indian bills (10/8)
First Nations Development Institute awards $250K for ranching (10/8)
Four Native chefs participate in unique food event in New Mexico (10/8)
Native Sun News: Lone Indian voice opposes mountain lion hunt (10/8)
Lakota Country Times: Wind power comes to Rosebud community (10/8)
Delphine Red Shirt: Scandal shuts down program for Indian youth (10/8)
Vince Two Eagles: Native medicine goes back thousands of years (10/8)
Jay Daniels: Indian lands still face threat from state governments (10/8)
Steven Newcomb: Religious doctrine guides Indian law and policy (10/8)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (10/8)
Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation celebrate trust settlement (10/8)
Actor joked about taking tribal artifacts from ranch in New Mexico (10/8)
Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians gives $100K for cancer center (10/8)
Radio station brings news and more to Yankton Sioux Reservation (10/8)
Indian gaming industry grew 116 percent between 2001 and 2013 (10/8)
Arizona tribes on road to recovery with $1.81B in casino revenues (10/8)
Pojoaque Pueblo secures injunction in New Mexico casino dispute (10/8)
Little River Band sees off-reservation casino as boost for revenue (10/8)
Pioneering tribes share experiences with prosecuting non-Indians (10/7)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves two bills at meeting (10/7)
Congress approves land-into-trust bill for Pueblos in New Mexico (10/7)
House Natural Resources Committee holds markup on Indian bills (10/7)
Native Sun News: Rival teams meet on football field at Pine Ridge (10/7)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes receive $940M in Ramah settlement (10/7)
James Giago Davies: Embrace distance running in Indian Country (10/7)
Brandon Ecoffey: Powerful forces aim to keep out the Native vote (10/7)
Thomas Perez: Youth on Wind River Reservation share high hopes (10/7)
Stephen Corry: Native people displaced for sake of 'conservation' (10/7)
States oppose tribal jurisdiction in upcoming Supreme Court case (10/7)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe challenges Indian education reforms (10/7)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.