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

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
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
Cherokee Nation celebrates births of first calves from bison herd (4/23)
Burns Paiute Tribe investigates fire that destroyed two bulidings (4/23)
Kaibab Paiute Tribe welcomes designation as 1st dark sky nation (4/23)
University of Minnesota sees surge in Native student enrollment (4/23)
Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights (4/23)
Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals (4/23)
Brazil to host inaugural World Indigenous Games this September (4/23)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation probes woman's death at casino (4/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation vows defense for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Seminole Tribe talks with lawmakers about Class III casino deal (4/23)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (4/23)
Native Sun News: Tribes take DOI to task over grizzly bear policy (4/22)
Native Sun News: Lakota rodeo legend Howard Hunter passes on (4/22)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation language programs are working (4/22)
White House Blog: Improving the lives of Native American youth (4/22)
Bob Gough: Indigenous people most affected by climate change (4/22)
Duane Champagne: Indigenous accommodation for colonialism (4/22)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee on transportation (4/22)
Navajo Nation voters choose Russell Begaye as next president (4/22)
Appeals court sides with Indian inmate in religious rights case (4/22)
Kashia Band interested in timber not marijuana on new lands (4/22)
Kaw Nation to return to ancestral land in Kansas for ceremony (4/22)
Moapa Band to host Further Future music festival next month (4/22)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe runs into opposition to fish hatchery (4/22)
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.