FROM THE ARCHIVE

Trust fund judge sanctions U.S. for 'misconduct'

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TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2003

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth today sanctioned the federal government for engaging in "misconduct" and "bad faith" by falsely claiming to have records of an historical accounting of Indian funds.

Lamberth said the Department of Justice filed court documents that alleged the General Accounting Office (GAO) reconciled Indian funds from the 1920s to the 1950s. At the same time, he noted, government attorneys and Department of Interior officials had information to the contrary.

"Accordingly, defendants must compensate plaintiffs for the waste of time and effort that resulted from defendants' filing of an affidavit containing false and misleading representations of fact," Lamberth wrote.

Today's decision is the latest in a string of motions that sanction the government for its handling of the Cobell trust fund litigation. Top DOJ officials and attorney have been repeatedly cited for breaking ethical rules and for trying to undermine the court's authority by making "frivolous" and "baseless" claims.

The plaintiffs asked Lamberth to hold another contempt trial to address the latest GAO-related claims but he denied the request.

Get the Decision:
Memorandum and Order (March 11, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Interior rebuffed on historical accounting (04/24)