Lander law firm responds to Northern Arapaho lawsuit
Today County 10 received a statement from Baldwin, Crocker and Rudd, P.C., the Lander-based law firm that represented the Northern Arapaho Tribe until early June when the Northern Arapaho Business Council terminated its relationship with the firm.
Baldwin, Crocker and Rudd is at the center of a lawsuit brought by the NABC through its new legal representation Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton, an Atlanta-based firm. A statement from the NABC in July points to unreturned tribal funds and documents as the reason for the suit.
A summary of events surrounding this lawsuit, a new suit brought against Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton and the general controversy surrounding the management of the Wind River Hotel and Casino and related issues can be found here.
The statement from Baldwin, Crocker and Rudd, is produced below in italics. You can view the full document here.
7 August 2019
We’ve had enough of standing by and saying nothing while misguided people spread lies about our law firm and mischaracterize our work for the Northern Arapaho Tribe. We owe it to our families, our friends, our colleagues, and the Northern Arapaho people to let the truth be known.
The Tribe’s new lawyers have filed a lawsuit against us for the return of client trust funds and client files.
Most lawyers have trust accounts to hold client money from time to time. The Tribe asked us to hold tribal funds in our trust account and we’ve provided regular reports on the status of that account. When the Tribe asked for those funds to be returned, we did so right away. We received the request on Friday, June 7, and funds were returned in transactions on the following Monday and Tuesday, June 10 and 11. Interest on the account ($165.71) had to be calculated by the bank and was sent to the Tribe on June 12. The Tribe had these funds for more than six weeks before it filed its lawsuit claiming that we refused to return them. The Tribe’s own financial records confirm this, which is part of the reason the lawsuit is so outrageous.
At the Tribe’s request, we have returned hundreds of documents and have been preparing the rest for transfer. But the Tribe’s new lawyers have represented clients with direct conflicts of interest with the Tribe. That creates issues for us because professional rules require us to safeguard client files against disclosure to opposing parties. We have been trying to work with the Tribe’s new attorneys to resolve this, but instead they filed the lawsuit against us.
In addition, we’ve had mixed messages from the Tribe. We were told our contract was partially terminated. Several days later, we were told the Council voted on the record to continue our contract as lead counsel for the Tribe. And during this time, Councilmembers referred new legal matters to us unrelated to gaming. Then, we received another termination notice, but some tribal leaders have expressed doubts about the authority of the new law firm. Our loyalty is to the Tribe as a whole, and the conflicting direction from within the Tribe requires us to proceed cautiously while internal disagreements remain unresolved.
We’ve fought hard for the Arapaho people for more than 35 years, winning rights for the Tribe to manage its own housing and social programs, operate and regulate its casino, protect its religious freedoms, and more. This new lawsuit is false and defamatory. It has hurt us personally and professionally. We appreciate the community support we’ve received so far and ask all who know us to keep an open mind. When the facts are proven in court, we will prevail.