Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thoughts On Coleman vs. Franken

Today the Minnesota Supreme court issued a unanimous decison upholding the 3 judge trial court's conclusion that by 312 votes Al Franken won the most lawfully cast votes in last November's Senatorial election. The opinion is clear, the writing crisp and the analysis unarguable. Norm Coleman's lawyers lost his senate seat. MC does not exaggerate.

If anyone asks you how Norm lost, tell them to consult page 24 of the PDF version of the opinion, footnote 18. For reasons unfathomable, Norm's lawyers (Trimble and Knaak at the time) stipulated with prejudice to the inclusion in the canvassing board process (this preceeded the trial court whose decision the MN Supreme Court upheld today) some 933 absentee ballots. "With prejudice" is a legal term of art which means one cannot revisit or reargue that which has been done or agreed to with prejudice. Those absentee ballots gave Franken the lead; Norm never recovered. This was in January of 2009. His legal ability to win was on a death spiral since then.

There may have been good reasons to stipulate to those 933 ballots being included but MC can think of no reason to do so with prejudice. When Norm wanted to question the integrity of those ballots (twice!), he was told he had relinquished his right to do so. By agreement of his attorneys. By their stipulation. With prejudice.

The Minnesota Supreme Court opinion, it should be noted, mentions at every turn the failure of Norm's attorneys to prove a great many things. Coleman was outlawyered. And yes, being out lawyered does make a difference. Try a filibuster proof US Senate.