The four objectors to the historic Cobell land trust mismanagment settlement say they’re not backing down, even after their names and phones numbers were published in an open letter printed online and sent to thousands of plaintiffs prompted them to receive angry phones calls.
As Associated Press reporter Matt Volz reports, Carol Good Bear is one of the objectors that received a flood of angry phone calls.
At first, the resident of New Town, N.D., hung up on the angry voices at the other end. After 15 calls, she unplugged her home phone and started screening her cellphone calls.
She said she worries for her safety now that her address is in the hands of hundreds of thousands of people who might blame her for holding up their money.
“To put my name out there for the public, I think that’s scary that these attorneys would use this tactic and intimidate me into dropping my appeal,” Good Bear said. “I don’t have protection. If somebody is upset about all this and comes at me with a gun, what am I supposed to do?”
The Cobell settlement was approved by the courts last fall after almost 16 years of court battles. Payments were scheduled to be send out in November before the objections were filed.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, led by Dennis Gingold of Washington, D.C., wrote in their letter that the “hopes and wishes of 500,000 individual Indians” had been delayed by those four people. If it wasn’t for them, the first payments would have been made before Thanksgiving, the letter said.
“There is little doubt that they do not share the desires or care about the needs of the class, over 99.9 percent of whom support a prompt conclusion to this long-running, acrimonious case,” the attorneys wrote.
The letter went on to list the names, phone numbers and addresses of Good Bear; Kimberly Craven of Boulder, Co.; Charles Colombe of Mission, S.D.; and Mary Lee Johns of Lincoln, Neb. The attorneys invited people to “ask them directly about their motives” and cautioned them to “please be civil in your communications.”
Tags: associated press, carol good bear, Cobell, Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, indian land trust, matt volz
Elouise Cobell’s lawyers, who helped Indian Country win a landmark land trust settlement worth millions, continue to insist they deserve more than the agreed upon $99 million in legal fees.
According to The Blog of Legal Times, the attorneys say their push to get more money is fair, and is a concern of politicians, not those who may benefit from the suit.
Last week, two Republicans members of the House, citing the Justice Department’s position on fees, introduced legislation to cap fees in Cobell v. Salazar at $50 million. A similar effort to cap the fees failed last year.
“There is simply no question that members of both houses of Congress fully understood that there was no cap and that the court would decide the fee question consistent with controlling law,” (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton partner Keith Harper and Washington solo Dennis Gingold said) in the court papers. “Those who are feigning surprise know better or should know better.”
Cobell’s lawyers said they accomplished for Native Americans what no other lawyer or government official ever had—meaningful reform in the management of Indian trust accounts. The $3.4 billion settlement announced in December 2009 resolves claims the government botched its handling of accounts for more than a century.
. . .
Harper and Gingold, who have both traveled in recent weeks to meet with potential beneficiaries, said the fee petition is not the hot topic. Potential class members want to know more about how to participate in the settlement, not how much the lawyers are getting paid, Harper said.
Tags: Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, Keith Harper, land trust settlement
By Matthew Daly, of the Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Lawyers representing Native Americans helped win a record $3.4 billion settlement with the federal government.
Now they want a judge to double their fees.
Instead of being paid up to $99.9 million, as initially agreed, attorney Dennis Gingold says he other lawyers deserve at least $224 million for their work on the case since 1996.
He and other lawyers “have achieved a stunning landmark victory in this case,” Gingold wrote in a 25-page motion filed Jan. 25 in federal court in Washington. “No lawyers have done so much for so many people in this circuit.”
Not only was the $3.4 billion settlement a record for Native American claims against the government, but the lawyers also “accomplished that which Congress could not do and the (U.S.) attorney general would not do, and have aided a group long abused to stand up against the abuse,” Gingold wrote.
For their efforts, $99.9 million “is so far below governing standards that it would be inconsistent with federal law,” Gingold said. Instead, he, Thaddeus Holt, Keith Harper and other lawyers deserve at least $223 million in fees, plus $1.3 million in expenses and other costs, Gingold said.
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Tags: Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, indian trusts
The Senate adjourned Wednesday without giving the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. The Associated Press has the details:
The suit accuses the federal government of mismanaging billions of dollars held in trust for Indian landowners.
The Senate will reconvene for a lame-duck session Nov. 15. Cobell says no decision has been made on whether to press for Senate approval in that session.
The lead plaintiffs’ attorney tells the wonderfully named BLT (Blog of the Legal Times) that they remain optimistic.
“We uniquely have bipartisan support in an environment where you don’t see that often,” Dennis Gingold tells Mike Scarcella.
Tags: Blog of the Legal Times, BLT, buffalo post, Cobell, Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, Indian trust case, Mike Scarcella, Native American news, Senate
The federal judge who extended the deadline for congressional approval of the $3.4 billion settlement in the Indian trust case says the judgment is “well deserved” and that he’s disappointed it hasn’t been approved.
On Tuesday, Senior Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia extended the deadline for the necessary congressional approval to Oct. 15. It’s the sixth extension since the settlement was announced in December.
But, he said, “The disappointment of not having the legislation implemented is great,” and urged the Senate “to act as promptly and as expeditiously as possible,” according to this National Law Journal story by Mike Scarcella:
Elouise Cobell (AP photo)
The suit, filed in 1996 by plaintiff Elouise Cobell, who attended the status conference Tuesday, seeks a historical accounting of individual Indian money accounts managed by the Interior Department. The settlement, which includes $1.41 billion in compensation for the plaintiffs, stalled in the Senate earlier this year. Concern was raised over attorney fees in the case. Fees are capped at $100 million. …
Robert Kirschman Jr. of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in court the administration remains “very committed” to the settlement. “We are hopeful the settlement legislation will be enacted and will be enacted in the near future,” said Kirschman, deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch.
Dennis Gingold of Washington, D.C., lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said that “We want this to be done or too many people will suffer.”
Tags: buffalo post, Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, Gwen Florio, Indian trust case, Justice Department, Native American news, Robert Kirschman, Thomas Hogan, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, U.S. Senate
Here’s the story by Matt Volz of the Associated Press:
Elouise Cobell (AP photo)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. House of Representatives attached a $3.4 billion government settlement with Indian trust beneficiaries to a war-funding bill that it passed just before breaking for the July Fourth holiday.
The settlement was one of several additions made late Thursday to the $80 billion appropriations bill that includes funding for the troop surge in Afghanistan and money for federal disaster assistance. It authorizes the Obama administration to settle a class-action lawsuit with between 300,000 and 500,000 American Indians who claims the Interior Department mismanaged billions of dollars held in trust by the government.
The House originally authorized the settlement in May, but it was tucked into the Democrats’ jobs legislation that stalled in a Senate filibuster late last month.
The plaintiffs hope including the settlement in the war-funding and disaster-relief bill will mean the Senate will approve it.
“We expect that the Senate must give prompt and serious consideration to the bill because, without enactment, there are no funds for our war efforts and no funds for FEMA,” plaintiffs attorney Dennis Gingold said Friday. “The bill is too important to this country. Partisan politics must not obstruct passage.”
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Tags: Blackfeet, buffalo post, Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, Gwen Florio, Indian trust case, Native American news, Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Interior Department, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, U.S. Senate, U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, War-funding bill
Here’s the entire story from the Associated Press on this latest wrinkle:
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee said Tuesday he is concerned about the fairness of a proposed $3.4 billion settlement against the government for mismanaging Indian trust funds and is suggesting some revisions.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said he thinks attorney fees and costs should be capped at $50 million – up to $50 million less than proposed. He also suggested setting aside $50 million of the settlement money for certain lawsuit participants who receive “insufficient or unfair” amounts under the settlement’s payment formula. The money would be distributed by a “special master” appointed by the court.
The Wyoming Republican called on tribal leaders across the country to share their input.
“Since it was announced last December, there have been many questions asked about some aspects of the proposed settlement,” Barrasso said in a release. “Some people support the settlement in its current form. Some do not. In fact, some voices have expressed very strong concerns about it.”
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Tags: Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Elouise Cobell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Interior Department, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Commitee
Here’s the entire story from the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal:
Elouise Cobell poses, center, with her legal team in the law offices of Kilpatrick & Stockton in Washington, Tuesday. Left to right are Bill Dorris, Cobell, Keith Harper, Dennis Gingold and Geoffrey Rempel. The Obama administration says it will spend more than $3 billion to settle a long-running and contentious lawsuit over royalties owed to American Indians. Gerald Herbert/AP
A deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Interior will discuss the Cobell settlement with the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 20, in Rapid City.
Deputy Secretary David Hayes will be one of several guest speakers on the proposed $3.4 billion settlement in the Cobell v. Salazar legal case that addresses alleged mishandling of Indian trust land accounts by the federal government. They will address the chairmen and answer questions from the public from 9 a.m. to noon in the Sylvan meeting room at the Ramkota Convention Center on Saturday.
A panel discussion will include lawyers for the Cobell legal team, Keith Harper and Dennis M. Gingold. Majel M. Russell, an attorney from Billings, Mont., will also present on Cobell.
At noon, Hayes will join the tribal chairmen in a closed executive session.
The Cobell presentation is part of a two-day GPTCA meeting being held today and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oglala Sioux Tribal President Theresa Two Bulls serves as president of the GPTCA
Tags: Bill Dorris, buffalo post, Cobell v. Salazar, Dennis Gingold, Deputy Interior Secretrary David Hayes, Elouise Cobell, Geoffrey Rempel, Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, Gwen Florio, Indian trust case, Interior Department, Keith Harper, Kilpatrick & Stockton, Majel M. Russell, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Theresa Two Bulls