Judge: Norton's actions 'contemptuous'
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Update: 12:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The federal judge overseeing the trust fund lawsuit today said Secretary of Interior Gale Norton has engaged in "clearly contemptuous" behavior since taking office in February.

But U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth stopped short of holding Norton in contempt or setting a trial date to consider whether she should face fines or even see jail time. Instead, he implored her legal team -- the third set since the case began in 1996 -- to prove to him she is "in charge of trust reform."

Lamberth also expressed displeasure that the government has a new defense group. As reported today on Indianz.Com, two new teams from the Department of Justice are representing the Departments of Interior and Treasury.

And as expected, the lawyers asked Lamberth for a delay until December 15 to provide an adequate defense. But Lamberth only gave them until November 15 to respond to the latest set of charges against Norton and others. He also set a November 30 date for an update.

After the hearing, Dennis Gingold, an attorney representing the 300,000 American Indian beneficiaries that are part of the Cobell v. Norton class action lawsuit, said he believed Lamberth will be ready to hold a contempt trial on that date.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Trust fund defense team scrapped (10/30)

Relevant Links:
Civil Division, Department of Justice -
U.S. Attorneys -
Environmental and Natural Resources Division, DOJ -
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

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