One of the few small bits of good news, and we owe it in part to ::hack:: Royce Lamberth:
This week’s landmark settlement on behalf of as many as 500,000 native Americans, in which the US agreed to pay $3.4 billion to right a century of wrongs that cheated Indians out of the proceeds from their properties, took 13 years, countless lawyer hours, and the persistence of one Elouise Cobell.
A Blackfeet Indian who worked as a banker, Mrs. Cobell is the original plaintiff in a lawsuit that claimed the US government for generations failed to pay royalties, totaling tens of billions of dollars, for mineral and grazing leases on land it held in trust for native Americans and tribes….
Cobell was often frustrated, first with the Clinton administration and then with the Bush Interior Department that managed the trust accounts, as the government sought to downplay the case as merely a bookkeeping problem.
Incredulous, US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who presided over a series of hearings, wrote scathing opinions, including one that said: “I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government.” He added: “Real justice for these Indians may still lie in the distant future; it may never come at all. This reality makes a statement about our society and our form of government that we should be unwilling to let stand.”
The irony is that the Feds were mostly guilty of keeping sloppy books. The real malefactors are in the private sector. So, the Cobell win is in large measure a bailout of criminals in suits.