Jodi Rave: Appeals court hears Cobell trust case
"I attended the Cobell vs. Salazar hearing this morning in the U.S. Court of Appeals. It was an interesting day here in Washington, D.C.

To begin: Dennis Gingold, lawyer representing a half million Native landowners, argued the U.S. government should pay Native landowners interest on land resource payments that were never distributed into Individual Indian Money accounts. At issue is a $455 million settlement awarded last August in a ruling by U.S. Distric t Judge James Robertson. In a previous district court ruling, it was determined that an adequate accounting was nearly impossible.

In court on Monday, however, government lawyers said they have operated a nearly flawless records system. They just didn’t realize this until they gathered all the records and moved them to Kansas, a government lawyer told a three-man panel of judges. After a review of 250,000 reconciled accounts, dating to 1980, there were basically only two mistakes — one missing $60 transaction and one $3,000 overpayment.

Interior Department lawyers argued they owe nothing to Native landowners, given they kept good track of all land transaction payments. And besides, even if the settlement money was distributed, “there is no rationale distribution mechanism.”"

Get the Story:
Cobell hearing: Govt. lawyers argue near flawless records system (Jodi Rave Blog 5/11)

D.C. Circuit Order:
Cobell v. Salazar (March 13, 2009)

Lower Court Decision:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (August 7, 2008)

Related Stories:
Appeals court set to hear Cobell case on Monday (5/8)
Attorney who worked on Cobell case found dead in DC (5/1)
Cobell invites supporters to May 11 hearing in DC (4/28)
Cobell: Obama fails to bring change to Indian trust (03/24)
Cobell hasn't heard from Obama administration (3/23)
Court schedules Cobell historical accounting appeal (3/13)
Cobell frustrated by Salazar's comments on case (3/12)
Salazar vows to resolve Cobell trust fund lawsuit (3/10)
Elouise Cobell: Obama must make trust a top priority (01/09)
Elouise Cobell: Indians still the invisible Americans (12/19)
Obama vows Salazar will fulfill trust responsibilities (12/18)
Cobell seeks speedy appeal in long-running case (12/10)
Appeal granted for Cobell historical accounting (11/21)

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