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 says Norton playing magic with trust reform
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2003

The federal judge overseeing the Indian trust suggested on Tuesday that the Bush administration was playing word games in order to avoid fulfilling its responsibilities to account holders.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth called a trial to address an historical accounting and reform of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. In a court order accompanying his decision to hold Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb in contempt, he asked the government to submit two plans that would bring them into compliance with their trust duties.

But during testimony in Washington, D.C., yesterday, he said the Department of Interior's response appeared to fall short of his requirements.

"It doesn't comply with my order, does it?" Lamberth asked special trustee Ross Swimmer of the historical accounting plan. "Where did I say in my order that [the historical accounting] only applies to fund management?"

"You didn't, your honor," admitted Swimmer.

The government's historical accounting plan, submitted January 6, imposes a number of limits on the project. Chief among them is a decision not to account for the 11 million acres of land held in trust for individual Indians. Department officials have taken great pains to separate an accounting of "funds" from an accounting of "trust assets."

When Swimmer was asked by Native American Rights Fund attorney Keith Harper where that distinction came from, Lamberth interjected and said "clever lawyers" and "clever accountants."

"I'll accept that, your honor," Swimmer said.

The second Interior plan describes how the department will fix the IIM system and the standards by which it will be held accountable. The document specifically avoided the use of common law standards, a move that represents the stance the Department of Justice has taken in several court cases, including those recently before the Supreme Court.

But on March 28, well past the January deadline imposed by Lamberth, Swimmer's Office of Special Trustee released a "comprehensive" trust management plan that brings in common law standards. Well, sort of, said Lamberth.

"It would take a magician to understand that," he observed.

Lamberth's words hint of his formal response to the Bush administration's initiatives. When he called the trial last September, he said he was considering imposing a "structural injunction" on the Interior in order to make sure it was carrying out its trust duties.

The trial, which started May 1, is expected to wrap up next week. It is not known when Lamberth will make a decision about how to go forward.

The plaintiffs have asked Lamberth to reject the department's plans an adopt their approach. They say they are ready to wrap up the case by the end of the year in a way that will correct the account balances in the trust.

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
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:
Swimmer testifies on trust fund accounting (6/27)
Swimmer challenged on Bush reform plans (6/27)
Swimmer expected to take stand in Cobell trial (6/25)
Griles gets Cobell wish list from House (6/26)
Taxpayers fund private attorneys to tune of $3M (6/25)
Swimmer testimony to come at end of Cobell trial (06/05)
Cason to take stand in Indian trust fund trial (6/4)
Indian trust standards debated (6/3)
Suit aims to halt reorganization (6/3)
Norton starts defense in trust fund trial (6/2)
Tribes stress unity on trust reform solutions (6/2)
Cobell welcomes a settlement to trust case (5/29)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)
Swimmer: Don't fear changes at Interior (5/22)
On trust, Swimmer turns to private sector (5/14)
Trial in Cobell trust fund case kicks off (05/02)
Bush reform plans debated in trust fund trial (05/02)
Cobell v. Norton Recap: Day 1 of Trial 1.5 (05/02)
Court tackles trust accounting and reform plans (05/01)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Lawmakers seek distribution of Cobell checks (7/31)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes seven bills at meeting (7/31)
David Wilkins: Finding some common ground on disenrollments (7/31)
Notah Begay to be inducted into Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame (7/31)
Opinion: Native Americans shackled in poverty by federal policy (7/31)
Column: Revisiting Johnny Cash's classic Indian rights recording (7/31)
Column: Sen. McCain breaks promise on Tohono O'odham casino (7/31)
Survey shows support for smoke-free tribal casinos in Wisconsin (7/31)
Prairie Island Tribe arrests woman for possessing meth at casino (7/31)
Chumash Tribe hosts public meeting on $160M casino expansion (7/31)
Crews stop spread of fires that came near Barona Band's casino (7/31)
Native Sun News: Website tracks missing and murdered women (7/30)
Native Sun News: AmeriCorps expands efforts in Indian Country (7/30)
House Natural Resources Committee markup on four tribal bills (7/30)
Mark Begich: A permanent fix for tribal contract support costs (7/30)
Paul Moorehead: Let's get back to promoting self-government (7/30)
Tanya Lee: Violence against Native women a national disgrace (7/30)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin named one of 50 Most Beautiful on Hill (7/30)
Tribes criticize veto provisions in BIA federal recognition rule (7/30)
Great Plains tribes hold conference to safeguard water rights (7/30)
Yurok Tribe wraps up marijuana raids with nearly 13K plants (7/30)
Law Article: Tribal lenders fight federal agency investigation (7/30)
Editorial: Muscogee Nation paves the way for college's future (7/30)
NPR: Relying on social media to keep Native languages alive (7/30)
Opinion: EPA exploits tribes by recognizing their sovereignty (7/30)
Mescalero Apache Nation man sentenced for meth trafficking (7/30)
BIA won't commit to timeline on Mashpee Wampanoag casino (7/30)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino to negotiate labor deal (7/30)
Tohono O'odham Nation blasts bill to bar off-reservation casino (7/30)
Opposition group sues to block gaming referendum in Nebraska (7/30)
Native Sun News: Native nations unite on uranium mine cleanup (7/29)
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on five tribal measures (7/29)
House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs hearing (7/29)
Witness List: SCIA hearing on natural disasters in Indian Country (7/29)
Gyasi Ross: Tribes put principle over profit in banning Ted Nugent (7/29)
Steven Newcomb: UN perpetuates dominance of Native peoples (7/29)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Music festival outlaws faux headdresses (7/29)
BIA holds final in-person meeting on federal recognition reform (7/29)
'Caucasians' t-shirt sees boost in popularity thanks to Native DJ (7/29)
WyoFile: Tribes depend on Medicaid funding for health services (7/29)
Another member of Miccosukee Tribe killed in fatal car accident (7/29)
Former employee sentenced for theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (7/29)
Editorial: Washington team's 'racial slur' has no place in society (7/29)
Review: 'Unreal City' exploits coal from Hopi and Navajo tribes (7/29)
Senate bill introduced to kill Tohono O'odham Nation casino bid (7/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports declines in gaming revenues and profits (7/29)
Muscogee Nation adds steakhouse to $335M casino expansion (7/29)
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.