indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Lamberth tempted by disqualification campaign
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 2003

The federal judge overseeing the Indian trust litigation asserted continued control of the case on Friday even as he expressed weariness about the growing debacle.

In the seven years he has presided over the case, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has been attacked by both the Clinton and Bush administrations. The latest was an orchestrated effort by past and present government officials to seek his court's disqualification from an ongoing investigation that could yield dozens of contempt citations.

Calling them "without merit," Lamberth took 54 pages to dispense with allegations of bias made against him and two court officials. He said it would be "a welcome relief" to rid himself of the bitter dispute, although he made it clear he would not do so.

"It is, admittedly, a tempting prospect for the court to contemplate recusing itself, given the hundreds of judicial hours that this case has consumed, and the innumerable antagonisms it has fostered," he wrote. "In many ways, it would be a welcome relief for the court to slough off the burdens of this seven-year litigation onto some other judge, unmindful of the headaches it has provoked."

"But the court would be abdicating its judicial responsibilities were it to do so," he added.

Lamberth's words came in response to a series of nearly identical motions that sought his recusal from the contempt probe. Former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, some of his senior aides and dozens of other government representatives are being investigated for the destruction of 18 months' worth of e-mail documents against court orders.

Special master Alan Balaran is leading the unprecedented review, which involves at least 39 current and former officials at the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice. He is preparing a report that will help determine whether Lamberth should punish anyone for the oversight.

Special master-monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III, another court investigator, was also targeted for removal. He faces a separate attack by Secretary Gale Norton, her aides and her defense team, all of whom have refused to cooperate with the former military intelligence specialist.

Norton has advised department employees not to share information or documents with Kieffer, who authored a series of stinging reports that formed the basis of her recent contempt citation.

Balaran's probe involves e-mails that were erased, overwritten or otherwise destroyed by Interior attorneys. Earl E. Devaney, the department's inspector general, conducted his own investigation but failed to assign blame to anyone. According to the report, a key Interior attorney said he "had never heard of" the Cobell v. Norton litigation more than two years into the case and was never told about court orders to preserve trust documents.

"Even if there was something I wanted to erase, I wouldn't know how to do it," said another attorney whose backup tapes were erased.

Former Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb, who stepped down as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs last month, is also facing scrutiny for erasing his e-mails. He admitted under oath that he failed to preserve the documents but cast blame on an administrative aide.

Acting Assistant Secretary Aurene Martin was called in for questioning as well. Although she joined the BIA in October 2001, she testified that she only received training on how to preserve e-mails recently.

Get the Deicsion:
Memorandum and Order (January 17, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
Lamberth rejects request to disqualify himself (1/17)
Martin read about deposition online (12/23)
BIA aides circumventing court (12/16)
Martin's role in incident surfaces (12/16)
McCaleb to go before investigator again (12/16)
McCaleb won't undergo more questioning (12/17)
BIA aides e-mail use prompts inquiry (12/17)
McCaleb aides circumventing court (12/16)
Martin's role in incident surfaces (12/16)
McCaleb to go before investigator again (12/16)
Deposition and hearing on trust fund (12/13)
McCaleb e-mail probe widens (12/11)
McCaleb aide ordered to testify (12/9)
McCaleb being deposed on e-mails (12/6)
Interior's casualties of war (11/25)
McCaleb resigning from BIA (11/22)
17 months at arm's length (11/22)
Court cites 'troubling record' at Interior (11/14)
McCaleb admits to e-mail 'misunderstanding' (10/23)
Interior admits to more destruction of e-mails (10/22)
Probe raises more questions than answers (08/07)
DOI investigation released (8/7)
No one to punish for destroyed e-mails (4/10)
Request for trust fund probe rejected (11/7)
Internal trust fund investigation sought (8/22)
Interior cited for destroyed e-mails (7/30)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
California tribes support release of water to benefit salmon runs (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Editorial: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ups ante in casino feud (8/28)
Ho-Chunk Nation launches outreach effort amid casino expansion (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
DOJ awards grants to address violence in Bakken energy region (8/27)
Another pipeline spills saltwater on reservation in North Dakota (8/27)
Navajo voters oust incumbent president Ben Shelly in primary (8/27)
Once rival factions of Chukchansi Tribe agree to 2015 election (8/27)
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.