Home > News > More Headlines > Lamberth tempted by disqualification campaign
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

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead (2/11)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Town repays Oneida Nation with racism (2/11)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (2/11)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe battles opponents at every turn (2/11)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law based on invented realities (2/11)
Native basketball tournament bars player who lacks Indian blood (2/11)
Armed occupation of wildlife refuge in Oregon ends with arrests (2/11)
Native activists ask Obama to help with liquor sales in Whiteclay (2/11)
South Dakota lawmakers kill bill to support return of land to tribes (2/11)
Miami Nation agrees to forfeit $48M from online lending business (2/11)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation creates $1.2M endowment at ASU (2/11)
Colville Tribes issue citation for death of rare owl on reservation (2/11)
Fort Independence Indian Community cheated by former partner (2/11)
Paskenta Band donates $125K to buy new vehicle for firefighters (2/11)
Man pleads guilty for dealing meth on Mescalero Apache Nation (2/11)
Public high school gives up racist mascot in response to new law (2/11)
Morongo Band and San Manuel Band question fantasy sports bill (2/11)
Former Sac and Fox Nation casino employee charged with theft (2/11)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians celebrates 3rd birthday of casino (2/11)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation again told it can't accept casino bids (2/11)
Editorial: Measure stops Lytton Band from pursuing new casinos (2/11)
Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (2/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (2/10)
Lakota Country Times: Indian lawmakers oppose drug testing bill (2/10)
Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story about treaty-making in US (2/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in state of emergency (2/10)
Chase Iron Eyes: Real sovereigns don't disenroll their own people (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: African and Native Americans fought for their survival (2/10)
Albert Bender: Tribes should reclaim land from unratified treaties (2/10)
John Lavelle: Supreme Court weighs key tribal sovereignty issue (2/10)
Women take top three leadership positions at Menominee Nation (2/10)
Northern Arapaho Tribe seeking to repatriate remains of students (2/10)
White Mountain Apache Tribe considers change to blood quantum (2/10)
Blackfeet Nation citizens still talking about constitutional reforms (2/10)
Sweat lodge at Army post helps with PTSD treatment for veterans (2/10)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes welcome return of land (2/10)
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders win big in New Hampshire vote (2/10)
Prairie Island Indian Community unveils $19M gaming expansion (2/10)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approves upgrades at casinos (2/10)
Seminole Tribe's gaming compact takes a step forward in Florida (2/10)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation insists on pursuing Connecticut casino (2/10)
National campaign launched to stop tribal disenrollment epidemic (2/9)
President Obama seeks $2.9B budget for Bureau of Indian Affairs (2/9)
Office of Special Trustee budget request remains steady at $140M (2/9)
Bureau of Reclamation emphasizes tribal water rights settlements (2/9)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.