Friday, September 28, 2001 6:36 PM
The Cobell plaintiffs won two legal victories today in Washington, D.C. in rulings issued by the court-appointed Special Master, Alan L. Balaran.
Balaran recommended that U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth find Interior Secretary Gale Norton and her attorneys in contempt for ignoring court orders to inform Interior employees that they were free to contact the Special Master about Indian trust abuses in complete confidence and without fear of reprisal.
Interior "has fallen far short of the requisite diligence and good faith necessary" to comply with the court's orders, Balaran said. "Senior management neglected to marshal its resources, impose its authority and demand the results needed from its subordinates" in order to carry out the orders. Balaran said Interior's "lethargy" and delays were both "troubling and inexplicable."
In a second Opinion, Balaran ruled that the Cobell plaintiffs may continue the legal discovery process - opposed by Interior - in order to monitor the Department's compliance with court orders and any undue delay in carrying out court-ordered trust reform.
Both of the Special Master's rulings have been posted at www.indiantrust.com
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