Court official demands documents
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A court investigator for the Indian trust fund lawsuit is threatening to refer a government attorney for disciplinary action for her refusal to provide documents related to an historical accounting.

Joseph S. Kieffer III on Monday wrote a letter to Department of Justice attorney Sandra Spooner, a member of Secretary of Interior Gale Norton's defense team. He said her lack of cooperation can "only be viewed as a manifestation of your continued attempts to obstruct the authority of the court to determine the status of defendants' trust reform efforts. . ."

Kieffer is asking for documents to determine the status of the Interior's accounting of the Indian trust. He received some, but not all, of information he requested from Spooner.

"Further refusal by you to recognize the court's authority . . . may unfortunately result, among other potential recommendations by me, in the referral of your conduct to the district court for appropriate personal disciplinary action should you again fail as an officer of the court to honor this request," he added.

Kieffer's letter was written in response to one Spooner wrote on January 3. In it, she accused him of bias and called him a "roving federal district court."

The subject of Kieffer's inquiry relates to sworn testimony given by Bert T. Edwards, the chief architect of the accounting initiative. On December 18, 2002, he said former Special Trustee Tom Slonaker signed off on a proposed reconciliation of 8,000 trust fund accounts.

Kieffer is the special master-monitor. He was appointed by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to that position after serving for more than a year as court monitor.

Relevant Documents:
Kieffer Letter to Spooner (January 6, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
Trust Reform, NCAI -

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