Norton defends self against contempt
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In another late night court filing, Secretary of Interior on Thursday defended herself from numerous charges of contempt for her handling of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust.

Norton also used the filing to argue against placing the IIM trust into a receivership. Citing "irreparable harm" and the failure of the Bush administration to correct more than one hundred years of mismanagement, the plaintiffs in the Cobell lawsuit want U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to name court monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III in charge of the accounts of 300,000 American Indians throughout the country.

But saying her top deputy is in charge of trust reform, Norton is offering an alternative. The government should be allowed to create a new agency to handle both tribal and individual assets, she said.

Norton's defense team is composed of two groups of lawyers from the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorneys Office in Washington, D.C., is handling the contempt charges against Norton and 38 government representatives while the Justice civil litigation division is arguing the receiver and other related issues.

The team is the third set of lawyers to handle the case since the Cobell class action suit was filed in 1996 against then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Upon receiving the case in late October, they asked for an extension to allow time to prepare.

A skeptical Lamberth gave them until November 15 to plead their case and throw themselves "on the mercy of the court." The document they submitted yesterday, along with a late night filing sent Wednesday, was their response.

Lamberth is calling both sides back to court in Washington, D.C., on November 30.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton stripping BIA of trust duties (11/16)
Tribal leaders in uproar over proposal (11/16)
Top Democrat calls for hearings (11/16)
Bush officials to speak at NCAI (11/16)
Q&A on BIA Reorganization (11/16)

Relevant Links:
Office of the Special Trustee -
Trust Management Improvement Project -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

Related Stories:
BIA plan called 'desperate' (11/16)
Developing: BIA stripped of trust duties (11/15)
Interior might need year on new agency (11/15)
Gover: Indian Country now 'weaker' (11/15)
Trust fund security document filed (11/14)
Interior mum on trust fund report (11/13)
Norton hires own defense lawyer (11/9)
Norton told to appoint trust fund receiver (11/7)
Griles taking lead on trust reform (11/5)
Norton's defense off to a 'bad start' (11/2)
Judge ready to hold Norton in contempt (10/31)
Interior promises trust fund defense (10/31)
Judge: Norton's actions 'contemptuous' (10/30)
Trust fund defense team scrapped (10/30)
Action on Norton urged 'on all fronts' (10/29)
Norton views broken trust fund system (10/29)