04.06.00

SCHUMER CALLS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO TO DROP ALL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CLAIMS AGAINST ONEIDA LANDOWNERS SENATOR DEMANDS FAIRNESS FOR ONEIDA LANDOWNERS

In the wake of failed negotiations in the Oneida Indian Nation land claims, US Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to US Attorney General Janet Reno urging the U.S. Department of Justice to drop all claims against the Oneida landowners, including financial claims.

In his letter to Reno, Schumer asked her "to take the final, critical step of removing the landowners from all liability in this suit whatsoever. Innocent landowners should not be held financially or legally responsible in any final judgement."

As long as the landowners remain a party in the lawsuit between the Justice Department and the State of New York, they could be held liable for monetary damages such as rental value for the length of possession and future lease payments. Schumer asked that the 20,000 landowners named in the Justice Department action on behalf of the Oneida Nation be dropped from the lawsuit and that damages be sought only from New York State.

On Monday, the Justice Department is expected to file a status report on the case with the Court In his letter, Schumer asked that it "include a withdrawal of all claims against the landowners and a clear statement that neither damages nor any other type of relief will be sought against them. There is absolutely no reason to keep these citizens living in fear," Schumer wrote.

Last year, Schumer successfully persuaded the Justice Department to remove the "ejectment" claim it had placed against the landowners from its lawsuit.

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