Judge puts off ruling on court monitor reports
Facebook Twitter Email

Expressing doubts about the way a contempt trial against Secretary of Interior Gale Norton is unfolding, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday delayed issuing a ruling that could speed the proceedings up.

As he directed attorneys for 300,000 American Indians and the government to keep the trial moving as fast as possible, Lamberth said he would defer a ruling on court monitor Joseph S. Kieffer III for now. But he indicated he might take the matter into his own hands soon, saying special master Alan Balaran could interview potential witnesses under oath in order to clear up numerous objections raised by Norton.

Appointed as a court officer in April, Kieffer has authored four reports and a supplemental about the state of trust reform at the Department of Interior. The reports contained damaging information that helped convince Lamberth to lay five contempt charges against Norton and Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb.

As such, Norton has vehemently challenged their contents. In an attempt to undermine these objections, attorneys for the beneficiaries had started to go over the reports in great detail, an effort that has proved to be timely and tiresome -- which Lamberth has made apparent yesterday.

In response to the concerns, attorneys for the plaintiffs want Lamberth to accept all the reports into the record of evidence. Government attorneys oppose the idea and filed a written motion to state their objections.

Lamberth did not say when he would make a final decision on the dispute.

Testimony of witness Tommy Thompson immediately resumed yesterday morning, with the examination of Kieffer's second report on the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System (TAAMS). But instead of going over the report in detail, attorney Dennis Gingold only asked questions about the attachments to the document.

Still, Gingold was unable to get through all of the exhibits. He said he hoped to complete his questioning of Thompson today so that Department of Justice attorneys can start their cross examination.

Gingold also said his team would be willing to forego several of their witnesses in favor of the depositions suggested by Lamberth. Those witnesses, he said, would include: John Snyder, Dick Fitzgerald, Tom Gernhofer, Bob Lamb, Ed Cohen, Michael Carr and Jeffrey Zippin.

Testimony resumes today at 10 a.m.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Judge questions role in trust fund 'circus' (12/20)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -

Related Stories:
Judge rebuffs Norton challenge (12/17)
Week two of trial continues today (12/17)
History of neglect drives trust case (12/17)
Judge eager for Norton testimony (12/13)
Editorial: Bad faith, wasted dollars (12/13)
Confusion, conflict detailed at Interior (12/12)
Exclusive: Trust reform assessment (12/12)
Lamberth pokes fun at government (12/12)
EDS trust reform report online (12/12)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 2 (12/12)
Contempt trial continues (12/11)
Contested reports focus of contempt trial (12/11)
The Trial: Witnesses to Contempt (12/11)
Coverage of Contempt Trial, Day 1 (12/11)
Norton contempt trial opens (12/10)
Norton attacks court monitor (12/10)
Norton set for contempt trial (12/10)