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to put himself in a position of temptation to do what is regarded as so pernicious in its character. The law forbids the inchoate step, and puts the seal of its reprobation upon the undertaking.” In the same case the court continued by making the following observations: “If any of the great corporations of the country were to hire adventurers who make market of themselves in this way to procure the passage of a general law with a view to the promotion of their private interests, the moral sense of every right-minded man would instinctively denounce the employer and employed as steeped in corruption, and the employment as infamous. * + “The prohibition of the law rests upon a solid foundation. A private bill is o to attract little attention. It involves no great public interest, and usually fails to excite much discussion. Not unfrequently the facts are whispered to those whose duty it is to investigate, vouched for by them, and the passage of the measure is thus secured. If the agent is truthful, and conceals nothing, all is well. If he uses nefarious means with success, the springhead and the steam of legislation are polluted. To legalize the traffic of such service would open a door at which fraud and falsehood would not fail to enter and make themselves felt at every accessible point. It would invite their presence and offer them a premium. If the tempted agent be corrupt himself, and disposed to corrupt others, the transition requires but a single step. He has the means in his hands, with every facility and a strong incentive to use them. The widespread suspicion which prevails, and charges openly made and hardly denied, lead to the conclusion that such events are not of rare occurrence. Where the avarice of the agent is inflamed by the hope of a reward contingent upon success, and to be graduated by a percentage upon the amount appropriated, the danger of o in its worst form is greatly increased.” The case of Adams, with contracts for claims representing more than $20,000,000 in which he has a contingent interest ranging from 10 to 35 per cent, presents a good example of the necessity and advisability of enacting legislation limiting the fees that shall be paid in any case, and the committee recommends that the subject have careful consideration by Congress and that legislation be enacted with this purpose In View.
Gentlemen of the committee, that is the language of the report. The CHAIRMAN. Now what happended in that Adams case? Mr. MERITT. Those contracts are still outstanding. They are illegal, and Mr. Adams and other attorneys who have these illegal contracts want legislation passed which will take the matter out from under the jurisdiction of the department and leave it so that the Indian Bureau will have no control over these contracts. I have been rather insistent in bringing these matters to the attention of the committee, because I know from past experience that if legislation of this character is enacted it will result in great scandals, as has occurred in the past; and as the Indian Bureau does not want to be a party to those scandals, we want to bring this matter fully to the attention of Congress. That is the reason why I have called the attention of the committee to the report of a former investigating committee consisting of members of this Indian Committee, headed by Hon. Charles H. Burke, who is well informed on Indian matters. o CHAIRMAN. What is the date of that statement you have just IreaCl Mr. MERITT. This statement The CHAIRMAN. The report you have just read. Mr. MERITT. The statement is a comparatively recent expression of Members of Congress on the question of attorney contracts. The Chamas. It must have been about 10 years ago. Mr. BALLINGER. 1910 was when the investigation was made. ' Mr. MERITT. It is dated February 20, 1911. The CHAIRMAN. Evidently that report had a very salutary effect upon these claims getting to an adjudication, because in the five years that I have been here, while the propaganda as outlined in that report has been about as it must have been then, yet it has been without much success, so far as I have been able to find. Mr. RHODEs. Let me ask this question: Have any bills been passed through Congress since that report was made giving the Court of Claims jurisdiction in any of those cases and fixing attorneys’ fees? Mr. MERITT. Not that F recall. We have reported adversely on every one of the bills and have fought those bills as hard as we possibly could. Mr. RHODEs. Is that your understanding, too, Mr. Chairman 7 The CHAIRMAN. That is my understanding. Mr. MERITT. But, Mr. Chairman, these attorneys have become exceedingly active recently, and my reference to propaganda in my recent statement to this committee had a significant meaning, because— Mr. RHODEs (interposing). Now, just a moment—that means that you are against any lootion which seeks to confer jurisdiction on the Court of Claims to hear any of these Indian matters and fixing the fees? Mr. MERITT. We are against any legislation which permits attorneys to have tribal contracts that do not conform with the existin law contained in sections 2103, 2104, 2105, and 2106 of the Revise Statutes. Mr. RHODEs. In other words, is it your opinion that there is all the law on the statute books to-day pertaining to the making of such contracts and their approval that is necessary' Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir; but they are attempting to get these jurisdictional bills through so worded that the law now on the statute books will not applv. Mr. RHODEs. at I mean is, then it is your contention that there is no necessity for this legislation in that regard? Mr. MERITT. No, sir; there is necessity for legislation submitting these claims to the Court of Claims for adjudication, but that legislation should be worded so that the attorney contracts must conform to existing law. Mr. RHODEs. That is what I was getting at. You have no objection in certain cases to the Court of Claims acquiring jurisdiction? Mr. MERITT. Not at all. Mr. RHODEs. But you don't want the law changed as to the making and approval of attorney contracts? r. MERITT. No, sir. The CHAIRMAN. And that, of course, includes the selection of the attorney. Of course, that is part of the proposition. We might just as well have that in the record. There are two prime, fundamental reasons why they insist upon this language. The first is that the Indians shall have an attorney who is at least satisfactory to them and partially so to the bureau, and that the fee must not be left without a limit. We have several bills here now where Indians are desirous of going to the Court of Claims to which the bureau has not objected; in fact, some of them have said they should go there; but this committee has been slow to report out those bills on account of the fact that we know how difficult it is to get any measure of . that sort through the House, and it is going to be very difficult now, and one of the reasons why there are so many of these pressed now is that it has been about three years since we have considered any
of them. They were tabooed entirely by the committee. Now it is not surprising to me that there is an effort now to press these matters, on account of the intermission there of about three years that there was no consideration given to them at all. Mr. MERITT. We have no objection at all to any Indian tribe in the United States having a prima facie claim, having a jurisdictional bill properly worded which will permit them to go to the Court of Claims. In fact, Mr. Chairman, I want it plainly understood that my position is that every Indian tribe in the United States that thinks it has a claim against the Government should have that opportunity, the same as any other person who thinks he has a claim against the Government; and when I was law clerk of the Indian Bureau several years ago I drafted a general jurisdictional bill which would permit all Indian tribes to go to the Court of Claims, but that oio bill was so guarded that none of these scandals would have resulted. The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Meritt, can you give me any idea of how many of these claim bills there are before the Court of Claims now that refer to Indians? Mr. MERITT. There are very few pending before the Court of Claims at this time, Mr. Chairman, but there are a great many bills pending before the committees of Congress, and some of them are not properly guarded, and we have pointed out when we have had those bills referred to us for report, these provisions that would be unfortunate if they passed in their present form. Mr. RHODEs. There are no such bills on the calendar, either in the House or Senate now, are there? Mr. MERITT. I think there are some bills on the calendar. The CHAIRMAN. There are some on the calendar. We just reported out one the other day, this Cowlitz bill. That was a claim bill. And the Crow bill is a claim bill. Mr. RHODEs. I mean containing those objectionable features. Mr. BALLINGER. And the Five Tribes. The CHAIRMAN. Now, there is one bill before the Court of Claims where the limit of attorneys’ fees is not fixed, isn't there? Mr. MERITT. I do not recall it. Mr. W. M. WoostER. The Indians living west of the summit of the Cascades on the Pacific coast are so widely scattered and so far apart that it would be impossible for them to come and negotiate contracts as in the case of others. Mr. MERRITT. That bill has not passed Congress. The CHAIRMAN. Well, is it on the calendar? Mr. SINCLAIR. It is on the calendar; yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Did this committee report it out ! Mr. SINCLAIR. I think so. The CHAIRMAN. Now, just let me see if I understand this bill here. My understanding of this measure that we are discussing here now, H. R. 12972, is that it is drawn peculiarly to cover the interests of the Chippewas of Minnesota? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. And while it is the desire of the bureau that it shall contain no language that is any way different from the regular legal form of making contracts with attorneys, that there are other matters in here that must be enacted in order to cover certain conditions that prevail in the Chippewa Nation, that do not apply to the laws that are now on the books. In other words, this legislation here must be enacted in order to take care of the peculiar situations that are up there, which are not covered by any law that is in existence to-day & Is that the complete understanding of it?
Mr. MERITT. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Then if you will try to tell me why, with all the laws there are on the books for the purpose of Indians getting an opportunity to go to the Court of Claims, it is necessary to enact this particular legislation here now—can you tell me that?
Mr. MERITT. We have no objection to the jurisdictional bill passing Congress as recommended by the Indian Bureau, but Mr. Ballinger is attempting to get an amendment on this bill that will take the approval of the contract out from under the jurisdiction of the Indian Bureau, and therefore not have the existing law applicable to those contracts; you will observe on page 4, lines 8 and 9, we drafted the law so as to read:
Attorneys employed therein by said tribe or bands of Indians under contract or contracts made and approved as provided by existing law.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, let me ask you right there, if the contract was made as provided by existing law, would there be any need for all this other legislation that is written in this H. R. 12972? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir; there would still be need for it, because the Court of Claims would not have jurisdiction without legislation. The CHAIRMAN. Now, that is what I tried to get before you in the statement I made a few moments ago. Mr. RHODEs. But Mr. Meritt does not mean that it is necessary to have the law amended as suggested by Mr. Ballinger. You want the law just as it appeared in this draft here, because it recognizes existing law in applying to attorneys’ contracts and their approval? Mr. MERITT. Exactly. The CHAIRMAN. Then if this bill—if we should report this measure here as drawn with that section with regard to attorneys’ contracts, as the bureau desires it here, what else is there in the bill that is obiectionable? . MERITT. There are a number of amendments that Mr. Ballinger has submitted that are objectionable. We have no objection to the bill as submitted by the Indian Bureau. Mr. RHODEs. You mean the bill H. R. 12972 is the way you want it, isn't it? Mr. MERITT. Yes, sir. Mr. RHODEs. What Mr. Meritt is objecting to is the Ballinger amendments. The CHAIRMAN. It is also necessary to have it in this form in order to close up the affairs of the Chippewas along the line of the administration o which we have alread ...; Mr. MERITT. H. R. 12972 is a jurisdictional bill, and will give the Court of Claims authority to determine the claims of the Chippewa Indians against the Government, and will also determine the claims of certain bands of the Chippewa Indians—for example, the Red Lakes and the Indians outside of the Red Lake Reservation. Mr. RHODEs. Are you in favor of it? Mr. MERITT. We are in favor of it.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Ballinger desires to amend it? Mr. MERITT. We are opposed to the Ballinger amendments. The CHAIRMAN. Now let us see if we can not, with that discussion, go ahead and see what Mr. Ballinger's amendments are. What do you want put right in there in place of that, Mr. Ballinger? Mr. BALLINGER. This is page 4, lines 8 and 9, and I ask to have stricken out the words “under contract or contracts made and apH. as provided by existing law,” and I ask to have inserted in ieu of those words stricken out the words “by their general council,” so that it will read: “to be paid the attorney or attorneys employed therein by said tribe or bands of Indians by their general council.” The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Meritt objects to that on the same grounds that he has objected to that general-council proposition all the yo. through. Mr. BALLINGER. Mr. Chairman, I just want to suggest this to you, that in the amendment I have oil be inserted there is an absolute limitation and check on the amount of the fee, for under the bill as agreed to by the department the court can not fix a fee in excess of 10 per cent, and then you have the further check on the judgment when it comes back for an appropriation to pay it. If you gentlemen think the fee allowed is excessive, you have a check on it when you come to make the appropriation to pay the judgment. The CHAIRMAN. No. we understand that, and we inderstand that the same objection exists and the same point remains that it is simply a question here of whether the council shall have the last word or the bureau on the question of who the attorney shall be. Mr. BALLINGER. Merely a suggestion. Mr. RHODEs. Just a moment there—do I understand that the chief difference, or substantial difference, between the bureau and Mr. Ballinger is this: That the question who shall have the selection of the attorney : Mr. BALLINGER. That is it. Mr. MERITT. Now, that is not the question. Mr. Ballinger would like to have it appear that that is the question, but that is not the principle involved. The principle involved is far deeper than that proposition. We will have no objection to the Chippewa Indians selecting their own attorney, but we want the contract that they make in such form that it complies with existing law, and that it shall contain provisions that are reasonable and fair to all concerned. It is a well-known fact that shrewd attorneys can go out on Indian reservations and get contracts that will result The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We have been all through that several times, and the committee understands that phase of it. Mr. RhodEs. That would rather go to the reason why the department from your standpoint ought to have the jurisdiction. Mr. MERITT. We want the i. so guarded that the complaints and scandals set out in this investigation will be impossible. Mr. BALLINGER. Now, Mr. Chairman, the next amendment that the general council proposes, on page 4, line 19, renumber “section 5” as “section 14,” so it will be section 14 if the bills are put together. I take it there is no objection to that. The CHAIRMAN. No.