Jodi Rave: Cobell to appeal $455.6M decision
"Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the Interior Department, on Friday said lawyers representing thousands of Native landowners will appeal a final ruling issued by a federal judge in a 12-year-long trust fund case.

An appeal will be filed “as soon as possible,” said Cobell, adding that litigation unfairly put the burden of proof for financial mismanagement on Native landholders instead of the Interior Department.

The decision to appeal comes in the wake of U.S. District Judge James Robertson's ruling on Thursday, providing a $455.6 million restitution settlement in Cobell vs. Kempthorne. Robertson referred to case law as grounds for his equitable settlement figures, calling for “accurate evaluations of difficult evidence,” while not allowing a windfall for victims “or punishment for wrongdoers.”

“It's a horrendous slap in the face after 120 years of injustice to have this kind of ruling come down,” said William Lomax, president of the Native American Finance Officers Association, or NAFOA, a financial management watchdog organization in Phoenix.

“It's very clear the judge's biases in this case were in favor of the government,” Lomax said. “He has not even awarded interest in this case. It's a clear mistake.”

Lomax said he is encouraging tribal leaders to attend the NAFOA conference in Chicago Sept. 3-4, so they can continue to fight for accountability of Indian trust funds. He said tribal leaders will be asked to “step up” as the appeal process moves forward.

“This issue is so important to Indian Country,” Lomax said. “We as a community need to stand behind Elouise.”"

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Indians will appeal trust ruling (The Missoulian 8/9)

Court Decision:
Cobell v. Kempthorne (August 7, 2008)

Trial Transcripts:
June 9 AM | June 9 PM | June 10 AM | June 10 PM | June 11 | June 12 AM | June 12 PM | June 16 AM | June 16 PM | June 17 AM | June 17 PM | June 18 AM | June 18 PM | June 19 AM

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