Judges reject Interior Secretary's claim

Department of Interior

Related Links

An independent three-judge panel this week rejected an appeal made by Interior Secretary Gale Norton and rebuked her for withholding information from Indian Trust Fund beneficiaries.

Attorneys for the government had claimed attorney-client privilege in appealing previous rulings forcing them to disclose trust fund information. But in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the judicial panel unanimously upheld the prior decision made by U.S. District judge Royce Lamberth.

The panel ruling, issued Tuesday, is the latest development in the case of Cobell vs. Norton, a legal drama that has stretched into its seventh year. American Indians have listed Secretary Norton as a defendant in their case regarding the management of the Indian Trust Fund accounts.

The panel also instructed Norton to show just cause for using private lawyers rather than government attorneys, given the fact that her personal legal fees for private counsel are reimbursed at taxpayer expense. Norton was given 30 days to respond to this order.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Norton can no longer challenge the District Court's use of the fiduciary exception to the attorney-client privilege, meaning that information regarding the trust fund cannot be withheld from the plaintiffs.

Still in contention is a plea made by lawyers representing American Indians to reinstate contempt charges against Secretary Norton. Judge Lamberth held civil contempt charges against Norton and her top Indian Affairs aide, Neal McCaleb, in September 2002, but a separate three-judge panel reversed that decision in July.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.