indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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 (http://www.nativeamericacalling.com) today at 1pm EST.

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

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm

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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Ceremony welcomes return of spiritual beings (3/31)
Tribes and families in South Dakota win big victory in ICWA case (3/31)
Non-Indian adoption group disputes BIA's new ICWA guidelines (3/31)
Dennis Chappabitty: How I survived a racist attack in Oklahoma (3/31)
Ellie Reynolds: Native people used as pawns in mascot debates (3/31)
Jordan Wheeler: Fan in fake headdress turned out to be Native (3/31)
Carolina Castoreno: Racism runs rampant in the 'Hoosier State' (3/31)
Tulalip man charged for buying firearm used in school shooting (3/31)
Man charged in stabbing of BIA superintendent in South Dakota (3/31)
Few details about well-being of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe leader (3/31)
Navajo Nation makes headlines as first with tax on junk foods (3/31)
School to use IHS grant to bring Native students into medicine (3/31)
German photographer earns trust on Fort Belknap Reservation (3/31)
Water agencies seek early appeal for Agua Caliente Band case (3/31)
Radio station on Hopi Reservation launches fundraising effort (3/31)
Bureau of Reclamation seeks $20.3M for tribal water projects (3/31)
Metis Nation of Saskatchewan closes doors after losing funds (3/31)
Report puts tribal gaming industry revenues at $28.3B in 2013 (3/31)
Fort Sill Apache Tribe loses bid to force state into gaming deal (3/31)
Santee Sioux Tribe prepares to open casino golf course in June (3/31)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to welcome visitors to reopened casino (3/31)
Editorial: Cherokee Nation contributes to economy with casino (3/31)
Everything you wanted to know about tribal gaming in Arizona (3/31)
Opinion: Connecticut tribes face challenges to gaming empire (3/31)
Native Sun News: Designation sought at Cheyenne warrior site (3/30)
Lakota Country Times: Efforts to rename sacred peak ramp up (3/30)
Mark Charles: Nation was built on the dehumanization of others (3/30)
Navajo Nation considers agreement for land-buy back program (3/30)
US Attorneys named to lead DOJ Native American subcommittee (3/30)
Kevin Abourezk: Students retrace journey of Chief Standing Bear (3/30)
Patricia Paul: Overcoming hardships and becoming a tribal judge (3/30)
Julianne Jennings: Taking care of our eyesight in Indian Country (3/30)
Police looking for clues after murders of Indian man and woman (3/30)
Chairman Michael Jandreau of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in hospital (3/30)
Hundreds pay respects to Navajo Nation officer killed on the job (3/30)
Police officer who kicked Native man reinstated in Saskatchewan (3/30)
Native boy with rare disease granted wish to join favorite team (3/30)
Jury rules against Cheyenne River Sioux man in 'KKK' scar case (3/30)
BIA official expected to be released from hospital after stabbing (3/30)
BIA delays ruling on Pamunkey Tribe federal recognition petition (3/30)
Alex White Plume aims to grow hemp on Pine Ridge Reservation (3/30)
Blackfeet Nation opposes energy development on sacred lands (3/30)
Opinion: Don't include Indian Country in BLM fracking regulation (3/30)
Fort Peck Tribes might scale back plans for first gaming facility (3/30)
BIA rejects Menominee Nation off-reservation gaming compact (3/30)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles for a gaming compact with Indiana (3/30)
Nisqually Tribe to open second phase of $45M casino expansion (3/30)
Opinion: Expansion of gaming options not a good idea for Texas (3/30)
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
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.