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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
Donna Ennis: Don't let ethnic imposters take away our identity (9/16)
Serial killer sentenced to life term for murder of Native woman (9/16)
Civil rights complaint filed over repeated denial of honor song (9/16)
Sen. Cantwell to introduce bill to end NFL's tax-exempt status (9/16)
House backs package to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/16)
Fort Belknap Tribe detained state game warden for trespassing (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe to open first Smashburger location in December (9/16)
Police in Ontario investigate letter that threatens Native people (9/16)
Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods (9/16)
Indian family in Washington continues bid for casino on allotment (9/16)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe challenges NLRB jurisdiction over casino (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe loses bid for commercial casino in Massachusetts (9/16)
Connecticut tribes see another decline in slot machine revenues (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
Paskenta Band holds election aimed at resolving council dispute (9/15)
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.