Norm Coleman had to pay a $7,500 fine yesterday for failure to disclose important evidence in the 26 day long Franken-Coleman Senatorial Election Challenge Trial. The plaintiff, Coleman, also claimed in a written statement to the court that since the number of illegal votes cast in this election exceeds the narrow margin of difference between the two candidates (which has Franken as the winner), the election needs to be set aside. However, Coleman has failed to show that any votes were actually cast illegally, or to make any compelling legal argument that this extraordinary request be honored.
The judges indicated to Coleman that additional fines would be charged if his shenanigans continue. They also indicated that “In the event this sanction fails to deter future conduct on the part of [Coleman’s] counsel, the court will not hesitate to impose harsher sanctions, up to and including dismissal [of the case].”
The essence of the unethical behavior by Coleman: Republican election judge Pam Howell had been on the sand a couple of times last week, but was pulled off the stand as the result of documents she secretly passed to the Coleman lawyers. The crux of her testimony seemed to be unverified hearsay about a Souh Minneapolis (= Democratic) election judge stuffing a ballot box. But the Coleman camp and Republican Howell also seem to have bee in cahoots, and worked out the exposure of evidence that seemed to (ineffectively) support Coleman’s claim, but the suppression of evidence having the contrary effect.
The Franken side begins its arguments today, and is expected to call hundreds of voters (quickly, they claim) to the stand to state that their absentee votes were not counted, and to have testamony from some election officials as well.
The court contest so far, while Coleman’s team had the helm, has resulted in several changes to the actual election count, but wiht a shift in favor of Franken instead of Coleman. It seems that part of the Franken strategy is to demonstrate how relatively easy it would be to increase the Franken lead even more … by a couple of hundred votes, perhpas. The other outcome of the Coleman effort has been to throw the entire election into doubt suggesting that it be thrown out. However, this claim seems to be without merit, and the Franken team now has the chance (and responsibility) to demonstrate this.