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In The Hoop
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2001

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Stupid Lawyer Tricks
It's hard not to sit through the Gale Norton - Neal McCaleb contempt trial without falling asleep. Not once has one of Norton's attorneys exclaimed "If the contempt does not fit, then you must acquit!"

But seeing as how assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Nagle and crew -- and indeed every Department of Justice lawyer who has worked on this case -- are about as sharp as a stool (although they seem to resemble other types of stool products), In The Hoop knows that will never happen. Thankfully,U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth keeps the proceedings fun, which makes us wonder why the Secretary doesn't just give up and ask to be held in contempt before more embarrassments occur.

Every so often, Craig Lawrence, one of Nagle's cronies, tries to object to a question posed to witness Tommy Thompson. And 99.99 percent of the time, Lamberth overrules the objection.

You would think he gets the hint.

But our favorite interactions have been Lamberth's delight in knowing his December 1999 ruling was upheld by an appeals court unanimously. Yesterday, Thompson testified that government attorneys were "clearly betting" on winning the case.

"They were wrong," said Lamberth, chuckling. "They put all their eggs in one basket."

Of course, Lamberth's pleasure is tempered with the fact that everyone has blatantly ignored his ruling. But then again, that's why he will get his revenge by holding them all in contempt.

Stupid Lawyer Tricks, Part II
It seems Matt Fader, that poor DOJ attorney who didn't know what a computer was, is definitely off the case.

Yesterday afternoon, the department's civil litigation team traipsed into court to ask Lamberth to ensure that government attorneys could participate in the (sham) consultation over the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management without worrying about "ethical" issues.

Fader, not surprisingly, wasn't there.

That's not to say his pals are doing better without him. Even though Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles (who resembles a certain Dukes of Hazzard character we'd rather not name) said in a sworn court testimonial that "Interior has begun consultation with Indian tribes" on November 14, 2001, it turns out these civil crapshots didn't figure it out until the night before last.

Luckily, Lamberth wasn't buying the excuses and has barred, for now, any government lawyer who is the subject of a pending contempt order from working on BITeME. Oops, we mean BITAM.

In Your Hoop
Where in the world is Secretary Gale Norton? Email In the Hoop and give us your best guess.

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