Home > News > More Headlines > Lamberth says Norton playing magic with trust reform
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

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Kumeyaay Nation still waiting to repatriate ancestors despite win (8/27)
IHS plans to expand service area for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (8/27)
Native Sun News: Health workers join together for race relations (8/27)
Ivan Star: Oglala Sioux government fails majority of our people (8/27)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump isn't the only crazy one in the race (8/27)
Harlan McKosato: Isleta Pueblo opposes city development plan (8/27)
Julianne Jennings: People of color must unite for justice or else (8/27)
Hillary Clinton campaign reaches out to tribal voters in Nevada (8/27)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Southern Ute Tribe hosts top DOJ officials at crime conference (8/27)
Paper must ask to attend Eastern Cherokee council meetings (8/27)
Koi Nation praises charges against man accused of looting site (8/27)
Pokagon Band breaks ground on village with housing complex (8/27)
Tribes provide fire services on and off reservations in California (8/27)
Chumash Tribe signs new Class III casino compact in California (8/27)
Tohono O'odham Nation heading back in court in casino lawsuit (8/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community announces $100M casino expansion (8/27)
Lower Sioux Indian Community debuts $22M casino expansion (8/27)
Little Traverse Bay Bands plan new development at old casino (8/27)
Seminole Tribe wins major ruling in taxation dispute in Florida (8/26)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Indian Health Service to hold a second meeting for LGBT issues (8/26)
Obama picks for National Advisory Council on Indian Education (8/26)
Native Sun News: Lakota grandmother debuts film about uranium (8/26)
Native Sun News: Miss Crow Fair thanks family for strong support (8/26)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Beware of vicious and deadly gossip on rez (8/26)
Former Navajo Nation leaders blamed for lack of women's shelter (8/26)
Man charged with murder of Crow Tribe couple could face death (8/26)
Former executives charged with theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (8/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe asks Obama to drop appeal in eagle case (8/26)
Kickapoo Tribe adds former treasurer to lawsuit against ex-chair (8/26)
Final defendant sentenced for murder on Wind River Reservation (8/26)
County finally agrees to discuss land issues with Chumash Tribe (8/26)
Lytton Band faces local opposition to land development projects (8/26)
Mohegan Tribe welcomes visitors to new sub shop in Connecticut (8/26)
Gun Lake Tribe consolidates governmental offices at new campus (8/26)
Grand Ronde Tribes host annual economic development meeting (8/26)
DC council member doesn't want racist name tied to stadium deal (8/26)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to see BIA decision on casino project (8/26)
Seminole Tribe heads into mediation for Class III gaming compact (8/26)
United Auburn Indian Community compact praised by lawmakers (8/26)
New leader of Jamul Indian Village cites benefits of $360M casino (8/26)
Alaska governor pursues appeal in landmark land-into-trust case (8/25)
Native Sun News: Tribes respond to toxic spill at abandoned mine (8/25)
Native Sun News: Behind the scenes with Indian relay racing team (8/25)
Leon Matthews: Lakota people carry on a long tradition of sharing (8/25)
Harlan McKosato: Sending my mother home in the traditional way (8/25)
Charles Kader: Boy Scouts continue to play with our tribal cultures (8/25)
Mike Myers: Choosing a path between sovereignty or colonization (8/25)
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.