$50,000 Stipulated Sanctions in Federal ICWA Case

Seventh Circuit Judge Jeff Davis, and presumably the South Dakota Attorney General’s office that now represents him, have stipulated to pay fifty thousand ($50,000!!!) in sanctions due to failing to produce requested discovery in the Oglala Sioux Tribe vs. Van Hunnik federal class action.  A pile of documents were unsealed earlier this month as a result of the stipulation, but I have thus far only reviewed the ones available here on the Turtle Talk website.

The short story appears to be as follows.  Judge Davis’ former counsel previously clerked for the 7th Circuit and drafted a memorandum that appears to have become the basis for 48 hour hearing practice in the 7th Circuit.  Plaintiff’s counsel knew of the memorandum because he received a copy through other channels, and a discovery request was made which should have resulted in the production of the memorandum.  It was not produced, apparently for quite some time despite communications between counsel.  Judge Davis indicates in the stipulation that he forgot about the document’s existence.

I still do not feel like I understand just what occurred, primarily because of the $50,000 in agreed attorney fees.  The fact that this amount was stipulated to means the Plaintiffs had a potential claim for more than that, and there had to be a lot more that went on than just what I have outlined above to justify more than $50,000 in fees.  I’m curious just where this $50,000 is going to come from, but presumably the State of South Dakota is somehow picking up the tab.