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The Kennewick Man Case | Court Documents | Opinions and Orders

Court's Response to Defendants Request for Extra Time

In the United States District Court

for the District of Oregon

Robson Bonnichsen, C. Loring Brace,
George W. Gill, C. Vance Haynes, Richard L. Jantz,
Douglas W. Owsley, Dennis J. Stanford,
and D. Gentry Steele



United States of America Department of the Army,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Department,
of the Interior, Bartholomew B. Bohn II, Donald R. Curtis,
and Lee Turner


Order CV 96-1481-JE

JELDERKS, Magistrate Judge:

In an order filed on September 21, 1999, I required defendants to respond no later than March 24, 2000, to the Bonnichsen plaintiffs' request to study the skeletal remains of an individual often referred to as the "Kennewick Man." In setting that deadline, I allocated waht seemed to be sufficient time to complete any DNA testing that defendats deemed appropriate.

In order to carry out DNA analysis, defendants now seek a six-month extension on the time in which to respond to the Bonnichsen plaintiffs' request to study the skeletal remains. The Bonnichsen plaintiffs are understandably frustrated and opposed to further delay. They correctly note that they had asked that DNA testing be performed in a motion filed nearly three years ago, and that defendents have offered no compelling reasons for deciding to perform that analysis only at this late date. The Tribes appearing in this action as amicus curiae also have an interest in a timely resolution of this controversy.

Nevertheless, the court will grant defendants' motion for an extension of time because it appears that DNA testing may assist in the ultimate resolution of the parties' controversy. The court will grant the full six-month extension that defendants have requested because it is important that the laboratories have sufficient time to properly conduct the tests. An unreliable tests is of little use to anyone and, in the long run, might delay matters even further.

Though the court has sought to avoide micro-management of the government's decision making process, court intervention has been needed to keep the process moving at all. Accordingly, the court will require defendants to file a work plan no later than April 10, 2000. This plan shall describe the action necessary to complete any remaining tests and studies, identify who will perform each required tqsk, and indicate when each of the necessary tasks will be performed.

Defendnts shall promptly notify the court if they fall behind schedule, or if complications arise. Beginning on May 1, 2000, defendants shall also file monthly progress reports by the 1st day of each month. Because the Bonnichsen plaintiffs possess a high degree of expertise in the analysis of skeletal remains, defendants shall consult with them (in addition to any consultation with others, such as the Tribes) to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed in conducting any DNA testing.

Defendants' motion to modify the court's order of September 21, 1999 (#62) is GRANTED. Defendants shall reply to the Bonnnichsen plaintiffs' study request by September 24, 2000. Defendants shall consult with these plaintiffs concerning the testing procedures to be followed, shall file a work plan no later than April 10, 2000, shall file monthly progress reports on the 1st day of each month thereafter, and shall promptly notify the court if they fall behind schedule in implementing the plan.

Dated this 8th Day of March, 2000.

John Jelderks, United States Magistrate Judge

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