Schedule set in Cowlitz lawsuit

A judge signed a scheduling order last week in Clark County, Washington, et. al, v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., otherwise known as the Cowlitz lawsuit.

Now that initial claims have been filed and answered, the Feb. 10 scheduling order set deadlines for filings of dispositive motions, responses and cross-motions and replies and oppositions.

Everything should be in to U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts by Sept. 6, after which a trial date can be set.

Roberts’ decision can be appealed by either side. Ultimately, the case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., has taken on a special significance because the Obama administration chose to make the Cowlitz land trust case a test of a 2009 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In that ruling, known as Carcieri, the high court said the government can put land into trust only for tribes that were under federal jurisdiction in 1934.

Meanwhile, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority this week reaffirmed its commitment to building a casino near La Center should the Cowlitz land trust decision be upheld.

The Columbian contacted the MTGA after reading it had dropped plans for a casino in Wisconsin. CEO Mitchell Etess said “there’s absolutely no change in our excitement” for the Cowlitz project.

If the legal dust settles in their favor, “We’re full speed ahead,” Etess said.

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