Home > News > More Headlines > Appeals court to hear Norton's contempt appeal
Printer friendly version
Appeals court to hear Norton's contempt appeal
MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2003

The federal government is back in court this week to challenge yet another controversial ruling the long-running Indian trust fund lawsuit.

More than two years ago, the Clinton administration asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to limit the scope and reach of an historical accounting owed to more than 500,000 American Indians. Three judges came back with a unanimous January 2001 ruling that rejected the government's position, along with a rebuke about reform efforts that have arrived "a day late and a dollar short."

Fast forward two years -- and a few hundred million dollars too -- and the Bush administration is in charge of the debacle. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton wants the same appeals court to reverse a court ruling that declared her and former Indian affairs aide Neal McCaleb "unfit" to manage the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust.

"The Department of Interior has truly outdone itself this time," U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in a massive 267-page ruling issued September 17, 2002. "The agency has indisputably proven to the court, Congress, and the individual Indian beneficiaries that it is either unwilling or unable to administer competently the IIM trust."

Officially, Norton is challenging her conviction on five civil charges of litigation misconduct and fraud on the court. Lamberth found that the Interior and its attorneys lied about trust reform and mishandled the accounting owed to Indian beneficiaries.

Broadly, the administration is fighting the court's ability to oversee trust. A Department of Justice brief, filed in December 2002, charges that Lamberth can monitor only whether the government has conducted an accounting but not the "discrete individual steps that would facilitate an accounting."

In addition, Norton is asking the D.C. Circuit to kick a court investigator off the case. The administration alleges special master-monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III is biased and is acting as a litigant rather than a judicial officer.

The appeals court hearing, to take place on Thursday, coincides with two days of contempt proceedings against 39 past and present government officials. Special master Alan Balaran, another court investigator, is to recommend punishment against the officials for destroying trust records in violation of court orders.

And starting May 1, Lamberth will hear "Phase 1.5" of the case to address continued reform efforts and the accounting. Each side has a list of expert witnesses they intend to call in order to help the court decide what action it should take before the case can be resolved.

The heightened court activity comes as Congress grows more weary of the seven-year-old battle. Members of the Senate and House are pushing a settlement to the case in varying degrees of hostility -- House appropriators have called the case a "nuisance" while the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is trying to nudge the parties to the table. At the end of the Clinton administration, the plaintiffs and former special trustee Tom Slonaker, who was fired last July, came to a settlement but the Department of Justice refused to sign it.

Two rulings that require the Interior to act as a trustee are also being appealed by the Bush administration. Those won't be considered this week.

The 2001 case went before two Reagan appointees -- Judge Stephen F. Williams and Judge David B. Sentelle -- and Judge Judith W. Rogers, a Clinton appointee. This week's hearing is before Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, and two Bush I appointees: Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson and Judge A. Raymond Randolph.

The case is Cobell v. Norton, No. 02-5374.

Contempt II Ruling:
Opinion | Order

Special Master-Monitor Ruling:
Memorandum and Order | Order

First D.C. Court of Appeals Ruling:
COBELL ELOUISE v NORTON, GALE A. (February 21, 2001)

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
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Cobell sees positive in Supreme Court rulings (03/17)
Hall: Tribes 'at the table' in Cobell (3/10)
Norton set for speedy contempt appeal (1/28)
McCaleb approved reorganization in Nov. (1/13)
Tribes weigh reform plan response (1/13)
Trust management standards key to reform plan (01/08)
Cobell trust reform plans filed (1/7)
DOI complains about consultation (1/7)
Swimmer picked as Indian trustee (1/6)
Norton attacks 'unfit' trustee ruling (12/9)
Norton fights trust fund contempt citation (11/20)
Norton's punishment on trust fund was light (11/20)
Norton appeals trust fund contempt decision (11/19)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to Indian school graduating class (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
Richard King: Mascot poll reflects pervasive anti-Indian racism (5/24)
Marco Alvarez: Voices of indigenous people usually go unheard (5/24)
Indian Health Service facility cited for treatment of 6-month-old (5/24)
Tribes meet to discuss sale of ancestors and property in France (5/24)
Families of missing Native women in Canada still await justice (5/24)
Menominee Nation considers options after losing hemp lawsuit (5/24)
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.