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D.C. circuit stays trust accounting on appeal

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 12 ordered an administrative stay of a lower court's structural injunction against the Interior Department - the one that would precipitate a full historical accounting of the Individual Indian Money trust in the class action lawsuit known as Cobell.

The administrative stay will give the court longer to decide whether a full stay of the structural injunction, as filed for by Interior, is warranted. The parties to the case, Interior and the class action plaintiffs, have until Nov. 21 to file a response to the motion for a full stay. (The administrative stay does not reflect on the merits of the filing for the full stay or on the lower court's structural injunction.)

The Interior appeal argues that a historical accounting should not go forward until Congress can sort out the scope of such an accounting. In an Interior and Related Agencies bill signed into law on Nov. 10, Congress forbid federal expenditures on the accounting - which would have to be paid for by the federal government in its capacity as a trustee for tribes - for one year.