Lamberth rejects request to disqualify himself
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Calling allegations against his court "without merit," the federal judge overseeing the Indian trust fund today rejected an attempt to disqualify himself and two court investigators from the case.

In a 54-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth denied 13 motions that sought his recusal. He said that former Clinton administration appointees and current government employees made arguments that "misconstrued" his court's actions, "misapplied" the law and "misstated" the facts.

"In many ways, it would be a welcome relief for the court to slough off the burdens of this seven-year litigation onto some other judge, unmindful of the headaches it has provoked," he wrote. "But the court would be abdicating its judicial responsibilities, were it to do so. A district judge is under just as much of an obligation not to recuse himself unnecessarily as he is obliged to recuse himself when it does prove necessary."

The 13 motions were filed following Lamberth's decision last September to open a contempt investigation into the Department of Interior's destruction of e-mail. They accused Lamberth, special master Alan Balaran and special master-monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III of bias and asked them to step aside from the matter.

The 13 who requested Lamberth's removal included former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, his chief of staff Anne Shields and former Solicitors John Leshy and Ed Cohen.

Get the Decision:
Memorandum and Order (January 17, 2003)

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