Saturday, August 20, 2005

If You Can’t Change the Judgment, Change the Judge

No, this is not about Judge Roberts.  It’s yet another example of a so-called Justice Department that’s confused about what constitutes justice.


After nine years of obfuscation and delay and outright lies, Justice is asking for the replacement of the long-suffering judge who’s had to listen to all this clap-trap on the part of the Interior Department’s handling (or failing to handle) 260,000 Indian trust accounts.  The failures aren’t recent, by the way, they go back over a hundred years.


A hundred years?


Yep. A hundred years of non-management, followed by nine years in court, failing to change their ways and Interior thinks they’re being unfairly abused.  Scalping, it seems to me at this point, would be more than fair.  Or maybe tied down over an ant hill.  But fairness, like beauty, is always in the eyes of the beholder and Interior is miffed about Judge Lamberth’s July ruling, which it characterizes as “unlike any other judicial opinion that we have ever seen.”


RoycelamberthOn the other hand, there aren’t many instances in the judicial career of a sitting judge that they are called upon to opinionate over a stew so long in the stewing.  It has obviously tried Judge Lamberth’s patience.  He had hoped not to retire while still hearing yet another set of excuses as to why Interior can’t find its ass with both hands. 


The Justice Department, rather than being stung by the rebuke, complained that Lamberth described the Interior Department as a “dinosaur . . . the morally and culturally oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago, the last pathetic outpost of the indifference and anglocentrism we thought we had left behind.”


Sounds eloquently accurate.


And they want a change in judges for that?  On the prosecution-side of the argument, Dennis Gingold (lead Indian attorney) responds that the governments problem is not the judge, but being called to account for “100 plus years of bad facts, it’s pattern of unethical behavior and its persistent strategy of diversion, delay and obstruction.”


A newly assigned judge would certainly be a diversion.  Hard to contemplate bringing the new guy up to speed on nine years of hearings, but its not hard to see where Justice is headed with this appeal . . . a little delay and obstruction is preferable to a lot of accounting and admittability and they have a hundred-year reputation to uphold.  This country has traditions and the Justice Department is more committed to upholding those traditions than it is upholding justice, even if those traditions are cast in the old John-Wayne mold of redskins against the white folks.  In fact, maybe particularly under those circumstances.


Again, as I mentioned when we first visited this subject, John McCain sits as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee in the Senate.


C’mon, John.  This particular affair has gone on long enough.
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There are lots more things that make me nuts, all of them on my personal web site.