By John M. Becker
(Wampsville, NY – June 2012) In a recent Syracuse Post-Standard article titled “Attorney, comptroller seek to toss Oneida Nation suit”, the plaintiffs’ Oneida Indian Nation-funded attorney was quoted, in connection with the pending lawsuit against the New York State Comptroller and Madison County Attorney S. John Campanie, as follows: “[the] Nixon Peabody [law firm] has charged the state more than $11 million in the last decade for its work on tribal litigation, and Campanie was paid $6,500 a month …. They have an obligation to explain to the taxpayers what the people of the state of New York have gotten for their money.”
As previously reported in numerous press articles, I offer the following past instances where Nixon Peabody, as lead counsel for both Madison and Oneida Counties, and Mr. Campanie achieved successful results benefiting New York taxpayers, including but not limited to the residents of Madison County:
* Dismissal of the Oneida Indian Nation Land Claim – a claim that sought the ejectment of 20,000 hardworking families from their rightfully owned properties as one of the remedies in its claim to title and possession of a total of 250,000 acres in the northerly one-half (1/2) of Madison County and the westerly one-third (1/3) of Oneida County. This dismissal also rejected hundreds of millions and – in some estimations – billions of dollars in damages sought by the Oneida Indian Nation from the state, which ultimately would have been paid for by the taxpayers.
* The United States Supreme Court decision in 2005 in Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. City of Sherrill (resting in significant part on a Nixon Peabody/Campanie co-authored brief and supporting affidavit)
* The Sherrill-based dismissal of a $250 million judgment against the State in the Cayuga land claim
* The limitation of the Department of Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs-approved trust land in Madison County to 4,000 acres and the pending challenge to that decision
* Real Property Tax Foreclosure case – the Second Circuit eliminated the injunction that prevented Madison County from collecting real property taxes on parcels owned by the OIN.
These victories were in defense of attacks initiated by the Oneida Indian Nation and other tribes against the residents of our state. Our County Attorney has achieved very favorable results for the County and its taxpayers and that would appear, in my opinion, is the only reason why the Oneida Indian Nation seeks to continue its retaliatory and punitive lawsuit against him.