FROM THE ARCHIVE

Court official demands documents

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2003

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 - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Trust Reform, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/main/pages/
issues/other_issues/trust_reform.asp

Related Stories:
Edwards: Slonaker changed mind on accounts (12/23)
McCaleb challenges trust accounting claims (12/19)
Cobell litigation moves into second phase (11/13)
Tribes opposing trust fund settlement bill (11/13)
Bill offers 'extinguishment' of trust fund claims (11/06)
Bush strategy assumes no trust mismanagement (11/05)
Court challenges move to 'extinguish' rights (11/04)
Let court review trust fund accounts (10/11)
Judge rejects Norton's 'absurd' accounting claim (09/23)
White House embroiled in trust fund mess (07/31)
Feathers ruffled in and out of Indian Country (07/31)
Bush urged to settle Indian trust fund dispute (07/24)
Trust debate centers on budget (7/19)
House clears DOI budget bill (7/18)
Debate rages on Interior bill (7/17)
White House approved DOI spending bill (7/17)
Objections on trust fund ignored (7/16)
House trust fund bill opposed (7/15)
Griles slammed for ignorance (7/12)
Norton delivers accounting plan (7/5)
Norton's accounting funds limited (6/28)
Deadline nears for trust fund accounting plan (5/7)
Interior rebuffed on historical accounting (4/24)
Bush administration bets on accounting (3/18)
Interior considering a limited trust fund (3/15)
Norton: No 'dollar amount' on trust fund mess (3/14)
Trust fund accounting tests federal judge (3/13)
Norton withdrawing accounting arguments (2/20)
McCaleb: Without settlement, accounting a 'guess' (02/19)
Norton says accounting complete for plaintiffs (2/14)
GAO: Full reconciliation impossible (2/8)
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