indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Appeals court considers bias charges in Cobell lawsuit
Monday, October 17, 2005

The Bush administration renewed allegations of bias in the handling of the Indian trust fund lawsuit at a hearing on Friday but faced probing questions from two appellate court judges.

Thomas M. Bondy, a Department of Justice attorney, pressed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out three reports that were produced as part of the Cobell v. Norton case. The reports, authored by a former court investigator, were critical of the administration's trust reform efforts.

In one report, Alan Balaran, a Washington, D.C., attorney who served as special master in the litigation, accused top Interior Department officials of hiding negative information about a costly computer system from the judge handling the case. The other two reports questioned the government's adherence to court orders that require the preservation of trust records.

Bondy argued that Balaran's hiring of an employee of a Native-owned firm who had been working with Interior on the computer system tainted the first report. The other reports, issued several months later, were therefore biased even though they dealt with another topic, Bondy told the court.

"They should count for nothing. They should have never been issued," Bondy said. "This is a judicial officer who did something fundamentally improper," Bondy said of Balaran's action.

But two members of the three-judge panel that heard the dispute struggled with the administration's unusual request. Judge Donald H. Ginsburg and Judge A. Raymond Randolph questioned whether they could throw out reports that have already been released to the public and were included in the record by the government's own attorneys.

"How do we vacate a report?" asked Randolph, an appointee of former president George H. W. Bush. "I don't know what that means."

"The word is out," added Ginsburg, the chief judge of the court and an appointee of the late president Ronald Reagan. For the court to act, "we need some reparable harm," he said.

Marc Levy, an attorney for the Cobell plaintiffs, responded that the administration was playing a "shell game" in its attempt to strike the reports from the record. He said there is no evidence that Balaran showed any bias by hiring the employee of Native American Industrial Distributors (http://www.naid.com), a Maryland-based company owned by a Native veteran.

"There is no need for draconian remedies," he said of the government's request. "That's what Interior is seeking today."

The appeals court panel, which also included Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who didn't ask any questions during the 50-minute hearing, previously blocked the release of reports that Balaran prepared as part of a contempt proceeding. The judges ruled that Balaran obtained information out of the normal judicial process that could have tainted his views.

Ginsburg and Randolph referred several times during Friday's hearing to their earlier decision and appeared to be concerned about opening the door to other allegations of bias in the case. The Bush administration has already asked the appeals court to remove U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth from the case, charging that has been too harsh on the government and has expanded the case to look at issues such as computer security.

"Are you going to be back telling us that the information technology hearing was tainted?" Ginsburg asked when Bondy said Balaran's reports have been used in other parts of the case. Lamberth recently concluded a 59-day trial that examined the security of Interior's computer network.

Balaran resigned the case in March 2004 amid long-running efforts to remove him. His resignation was preceded by the departure of Joseph S. Kieffer, the former court monitor whose reports were also highly critical of the government but who came under fire for alleged bias.

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

Related Stories:
Another Cobell v. Norton hearing this week (10/11)
Interior warned of computer security risks again (09/30)
Editorial: BIA is busy ... dumping trust records (09/29)
Opinion: A century of stalling on Indian trust (9/28)
Editorial: Interior's 'self-serving' claims on trust (9/27)
Editorial: Lamberth now knows what termination is like (9/23)
Trust fund records dumped by federal records agency (9/22)
Editorial: Time to get to bottom of trust fund woes (09/22)
Cobell plaintiffs: Swimmer to blame for trust woes (09/20)
DOI spends $30K to produce glossy report on trust (09/20)
Appeals court hears latest Cobell v. Norton dispute (09/19)
Commentary: Government cheating Indians on trust fund (09/19)
Cobell willing to consider land, payment schedule (09/16)
Appeals court delays Lamberth fairness complaint (09/16)
Lamberth has many fans but Interior not one of them (09/15)
Ross Swimmer: Cobell suit not about mismanagement (09/14)
Two Cobell v. Norton court hearings this week (09/13)
Swimmer disputes Cobell trust fund lawsuit (9/8)
Cobell speaks to account holders on Navajo Nation (9/2)
Editorial: Both sides must work on trust reform bill (9/1)
Interior to negotiate with tribes on trust records policy (08/30)
Cobell speaks to account holders in Arizona (8/31)
Cobell blasts effort against trust fund judge (8/29)
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:
Native Sun News: First Nations Sculpture Garden breaks ground (8/28)
Native Sun News: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe misses Cobell deadline (8/28)
James Giago Davies: There's trouble brewing on the racist horizon (8/28)
Simon Moya-Smith: A Republican slur on our indigenous relatives (8/28)
Kyle Mays: Connections between Creole and Native communities (8/28)
Mike Myers: Tribes deserve our own seats on international level (8/28)
Opinion: Supreme Court should pass on Jim Thorpe NAGPRA case (8/28)
Navajo Nation to reopen irrigation canal after Gold King mine spill (8/28)
Native executive wasn't surprised by 'No Natives please' rental ad (8/28)
Tribal members in Minnesota assert treaty right to gather wild rice (8/28)
County hopes to revive foreclosure lawsuit against Cayuga Nation (8/28)
Washington Supreme Court affirms legality of tribal gas compacts (8/28)
County sheriff questions authority of tribal officers in New Mexico (8/28)
Nooksack Tribe concerned about impact of slowly melting glaciers (8/28)
Supreme Court Justice Thomas favors conservative leaning briefs (8/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe prepares for decision on gaming plan (8/28)
San Manuel Band hires executive director for gaming commission (8/28)
Kumeyaay Nation still waiting to repatriate ancestors despite win (8/27)
IHS plans to expand service area for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (8/27)
Native Sun News: Health workers join together for race relations (8/27)
Ivan Star: Oglala Sioux government fails majority of our people (8/27)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump isn't the only crazy one in the race (8/27)
Harlan McKosato: Isleta Pueblo opposes city development plan (8/27)
Julianne Jennings: People of color must unite for justice or else (8/27)
Hillary Clinton campaign reaches out to tribal voters in Nevada (8/27)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Southern Ute Tribe hosts top DOJ officials at crime conference (8/27)
Paper must ask to attend Eastern Cherokee council meetings (8/27)
Koi Nation praises charges against man accused of looting site (8/27)
Pokagon Band breaks ground on village with housing complex (8/27)
Tribes provide fire services on and off reservations in California (8/27)
Chumash Tribe signs new Class III casino compact in California (8/27)
Tohono O'odham Nation heading back in court in casino lawsuit (8/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community announces $100M casino expansion (8/27)
Lower Sioux Indian Community debuts $22M casino expansion (8/27)
Little Traverse Bay Bands plan new development at old casino (8/27)
Seminole Tribe wins major ruling in taxation dispute in Florida (8/26)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Indian Health Service to hold a second meeting for LGBT issues (8/26)
Obama picks for National Advisory Council on Indian Education (8/26)
Native Sun News: Lakota grandmother debuts film about uranium (8/26)
Native Sun News: Miss Crow Fair thanks family for strong support (8/26)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Beware of vicious and deadly gossip on rez (8/26)
Former Navajo Nation leaders blamed for lack of women's shelter (8/26)
Man charged with murder of Crow Tribe couple could face death (8/26)
Former executives charged with theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (8/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe asks Obama to drop appeal in eagle case (8/26)
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.