Coleman files Supreme Court appealby Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Republican Norm Coleman's lawyers filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court Monday afternoon, seeking to overturn last week's ruling by a three-judge panel that found Democrat Al Franken received more legal votes than Coleman in November's election.
Coleman's notice of appeal does not detail his full legal arguments but it does list the arguments his legal team plans to make before the state Supreme Court. There are no surprises; they are the same major issues Coleman argued and lost during trial before the three-judge panel.
Coleman's lawyer Jim Langdon says Coleman will appeal major constitutional claims.
"Equal protection, due process with respect to the counting of absentee ballots as well as the trial court's exclusion of evidence regarding how election officials handled that on election day," he said.
Specifically, Coleman will argue the state disenfranchised voters when counties in some cases rejected ballots for reasons that other counties did not. In last week's ruling, the judges addressed that argument by saying the constitution doesn't require a perfect election and that human errors happen in every election. The panel said just because errors occurred, it doesn't mean the constitution was violated.
Coleman will also argue that the three-judge panel violated due process when it ruled mid-trial that some categories of rejected ballots were illegal that the state canvassing board had already accepted and counted.
In addition, Coleman will argue that the panel erred when it declined to order inspections at precincts where Coleman alleged double counting of ballots occurred; and that 132 ballots from a Franken-leaning precinct should be subtracted from the tally since they disappeared after election day.
Franken's lawyer Marc Elias says Franken's legal team will file a motion tomorrow morning asking the state Supreme Court to require that Coleman file his full brief by next Monday. Franken's lawyers would file his brief by May 2nd, and any reply brief by Coleman would be due two days later on May 4th.
Elias called Coleman's notice of appeal the "death throes" of the case.
"This is the same old, same old that the three-judge panel had rejected," he said. "It is, in fact, the same same old, same old that was rejected by the state canvassing board, and was rejected twice by this same state supreme court."
The panel last week found that the overwhelming evidence showed officials conducted a fair, impartial and accurate election. The state canvassing board found Coleman trailed Al Franken by 225 votes after the statewide recount; Coleman lost even more ground in his election contest after Franken widened his lead to 312 votes.
Now that Coleman has filed his intent to appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court will set deadlines for both sides to produce full briefs on the case and a date for a potential oral argument.
- All Things Considered, 04/20/2009, 5:51 p.m.