Monday, June 12, 2006

DC Cir suppresses reports in Interior / Indian trust case

The DC Circuit granted a motion by the Department of the Interior to suppress reports by a former special master in a decade-old class action alleging that Interior has mismanaged Indian trust funds. Federal court suppresses reports alleging US Interior destroyed Indian trust documents, Jurist - Paper Chase, June 10, 2006.

The case is Cobell v. Norton. In 1999, the district court appointed a special master to oversee the exchange of information between Interior and the plaintiff Native Americans. Along the way, the special master hired a data systems consultant who had formerly worked on a project involving the trust funds for Interior. His company's contract had been canceled and the company had moved to join the class action. Since the consultant worked on the special master's reports, the court finds that the special master's impartiality might reasonably be questioned and suppresses the reports. (The special master resigned in 2004.)

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