Monday, November 14, 2011

From Deep within the Labrynth

Still battling the Minotaur. Rather than talk about it now, the ultimate decision will be a public document so win or lose, I'll post it when it comes. It will be a few months, though. These things take time.

Without going into the substantive issues or the relative merits I can tell this story. As it is a mining contest before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), it is still sort of in-house. The ALJ also works for the Secretary of the Interior. His decision will be subject to appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. That decision can be taken to federal district court for a hearing on the record. With the best luck, as it is still in the Department, the hearing was scheduled for our federal building. We got up there early this morning to help arrange the setting in the 8th Floor Conference Room.

It's not a pretty place. The 3rd and 4th Floors have been nicely remodeled in the past few years. The 8th Floor motif doesn't go quite as far back as New Frontier style when the building was dedicated, but it goes back at least to Reagan with the metal paint-peeling walls. We moved the tables around guessing at how we thought the ALJ might be satisfied still giving us our preferred counsel table on the right. We carried up our notebooks and exhibits. There was still something missing.

A former Regional Solicitor had to have a US and departmental flag (with buffalo) in his office. So, one was ordered. Our current Regional is a little less pretentious so he didn't want the flags. Already having a set of flags in our conference room, my buddy in the office next to mine and I decided  we would take the extra set back into our area out of the main office corridor. So, with those flags readily available, I grabbed the stands in one trip and the flags next and placed them behind where the ALJ would be seated.

The flags were probably taken for granted by the ALJ and all the others in the hearing. Our table was at a slant directly facing the US flag. Also, when the witnesses looked right at the ALJ when testifying, the US flag was right behind him in their line of sight.. After all, they do swear to tell the truth.

continue . . .

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