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Babbitt, others dropped as witnesses

Former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and his top aide won't be called as witnesses by the Indian trust plaintiffs, an attorney representing 300,000 account holders said today.

Keith Harper of the Native American Rights Fund said their only remaining witness would be Daryl White, the chief information officer at the Department of Interior. "We're not going to do anyone else after Daryl White," he said. "We've got so much in already."

With Babbitt, former chief of staff Anne Shields and three other witnesses cut from the list, the contempt trial against Secretary of Interior Gale Norton could be wrapping up quicker than expected. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has presided over 14 days of testimony in the trial, which started December 10.

Babbitt and others, however, could still be called to provide rebuttal testimony, said Harper.

On the stand today was Special Trustee Tom Slonaker, the top trust official within the department. Plaintiffs' attorney Dennis Gingold questioned him for part of the day, with U.S. Attorney Scott Harris concluding cross-examination at the end of the day.

After the plaintiffs rest their case, the government will provide its own witnesses. Previously, the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., said it would call some Interior employees to the stand, as well as contractors from DataComm Sciences, a firm handling the cleanup of trust records.

White is expected to take the stand tomorrow.

Today on Indianz.Com:
Top trust official lacks 'confidence' in reform (1/9)

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

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