FROM THE ARCHIVE
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Judge limits Interior contact with tribes
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2001

A federal judge today restricted Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's formal consultation process with tribes and individual Indians, barring certain government attorneys from participating in talks over the proposed reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Any government attorney who is wanted in contempt for his or her handling of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust is not allowed to participate in the process, U.S. District Judge Lamberth ordered this evening. This would include attorneys at the Office of the Solicitor within DOI and attorneys from the Department of Justice.

The only exception is Solicitor Bill Myers.

Lamberth entered his order due to concerns over a Federal Register process court monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III uncovered as a sham. In a report, Kieffer said the Clinton administration -- including attorneys within the Solicitor's office -- hatched a consultation process in April 2000 with tribes and individual Indians only to delay an historical accounting of the IIM trust pending an appeal of the Cobell lawsuit.

Lamberth was worried those same attorneys could face ethical questions if they worked on the Federal Register process concerning the controversial creation of the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management (BITAM).

The attorneys who may be cited for contempt include, but are not limited to: Edith Blackwell, Sabrina McCarthy and Tim Elliot, all from the Solicitor's office.

Lamberth's order wouldn't directly affect Norton's participation in the talks. She is en route to her first meeting, which will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, tomorrow.

The session starts at 9:00 a.m. and is expected to last all day. Tribal leaders are planning a strong showing.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Confusion, conflict detailed at Interior (12/12)
Exclusive: Trust reform assessment (12/12)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 2 (12/12)
Editorial: Still ripping off Indians (12/12)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://indiantrust.doi.gov
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

Related Stories:
Contempt trial continues (12/11)
Contested reports focus of contempt trial (12/11)
The Trial: Witnesses to Contempt (12/11)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 1 (12/11)
Griles in charge of IT reform (12/11)
Editorial: Take criminal steps on trust fund (12/11)
NPR covers BIA overhaul, trust fund (12/11)
Norton contempt trial opens (12/10)
Norton attacks court monitor (12/10)
Norton set for contempt trial (12/10)
Indian panel urging BITAM slow down (12/10)
Editorial: Appoint IIM receiver (12/10)
Floods more important than Indians (12/10)
Norton contempt trial opens (12/10)
Norton attacks court monitor (12/10)
Norton set for contempt trial (12/10)
Indian panel urging BITAM slow down (12/10)
Editorial: Appoint IIM receiver (12/10)
Floods more important than Indians (12/10)

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