FROM THE ARCHIVE
Interior will send 'someone' to hearing
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2001

The Department of Interior plans on sending "someone" to today's court hearing that will set forth a contempt trial for Secretary Gale Norton, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Communications director Eric Ruff said the department hadn't decided who would be sent to the U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth's hearing. While he added that "many people" from the department would attend, he said he did not know the names of any of them.

The Interior did not send a representative to an October 30 status hearing during which Lamberth blasted Norton for engaging in "clearly contemptuous" behaviors since taking office. When asked why the Bush administration sends a spokesperson or aide to Congressional hearings but not to court ones, Ruff said the department wasn't interested in trying the lawsuit "in the media."

Solicitor Bill Myers did make an entrance in Lamberth's court last month. But like Department of Justice attorneys who make up Norton's defense team, he does not comment on court proceedings.

Norton has hired her own lawyer, Herbert Fenster, who is expected to appear at today's proceedings. He is one of more than 20 private counsel who have been retained by past and present government officials, attorneys and senior management to fight off contempt charges for their handling of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust.

American taxpayers pay for up to $125 an hour in the lawyers fees. Taxpayers also foot the bill for the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., which is handling the contempt motions.

A spokesperson for the office said three attorneys were working on the case, including Mark Nagle, chief of the civil division. Additional members are assigned on an "ad hoc" basis, said a spokesperson.

The Department of Justice's civil division is handling the parts of the case not related to contempt. A spokesperson said the department wouldn't release the number of attorneys involved but estimates are high.

Both teams were brought in after Justice's environmental division was kicked off the case.

The hearing begins at 2 p.m. It is expected to be heavily attended and last one hour.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Interior slammed on trust fund progress (11/30)
New NCAI president vows BIA fight (11/30)

Relevant Links:
Office of the Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Trust Management Improvement Project - http://www.doi.gov/bia/trust/tmip.htm
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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