Cobell litigation gets a new judge

WASHINGTON – District of Columbia Court Judge James Robertson will preside over the long-running Cobell v. Kempthorne lawsuit.

Chief Judge Thomas Hogan signed the order on Dec. 7, concluding an unusual episode in the already tangled litigation that seeks an accounting of the Individual Indian Money trust. The federal government and its delegate agency, the Interior Department, have mismanaged the trust according to a plethora of reports and investigations, but the plaintiff attorneys and the government have been far apart on the terms of a monetary settlement.

In particular, Interior and its attorneys provoked the former judge in the case, Royce Lamberth, to storms of impatience that eventually carried him beyond the bounds of judicial temperament, a recognized marker of conduct within the profession. Responding to a motion by Interior, the D.C. Circuit Court ordered the case reassigned, and Robertson got the call.

Elouise Cobell, lead plaintiff for the injured class of IIM account holders, expressed hope that Robertson will speed resolution of the case, which presents the new court with a 10-year history.