Coleman Attorney Backtracks: 'We Will Succeed'

Friday, 20 Mar 2009 04:43 PM

By David A. Patten

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GOP Sen. Norm Coleman’s campaign released a statement from attorney Joe Friedberg late Friday afternoon suggesting Friedberg’s remarks on a probable Coleman defeat in the current election contest had been misconstrued.

In a March 18 interview with KFAN radio in the Twin Cities area, Friedberg told listeners it is “probably correct that [Democratic challenger Al] Franken will still be ahead and probably by a little bit more” when the three-judge panel hearing the Minnesota election contest wraps up its work.

Friday afternoon, Coleman’s campaign responded to a Newsmax request to respond to Friedberg’s remarks, issuing the following statement from Friedberg:

"I was interviewed on KFAN by Ron Rosenbaum. He asked me if I was 'done,' speaking of the trial. I told him that I was 'done,' not speaking slang but literally, in the sense that my part in the trial court was concluded.

"I believe,” his statement continued, “that our position of enfranchising thousands of Minnesotans who had not had their ballots counted was, and remains, the proper way to proceed.”

The Coleman campaign has consistently said that a controversial Feb. 13 order by the judicial panel hearing the contest -- which defined the absentee ballots that should be counted -- must be applied to all of the nearly 300,000 absentee ballots cast in the election.

To do otherwise, the Coleman legal team says, is to violate the Constitutional provision for equal protection under the law. That would form the basis for Coleman’s expected appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court if Coleman is unable to overtake Franken.

Friedberg’s statement to Newsmax said that the Feb. 13 ruling “has created a multitude of problems in this process.

“Yet” he writes, “we still believe that when the court opens the 1,359 ballots that we submitted, and properly rules on the double-counting of ballots, and reverses the counting of votes where ballots have been lost, we will see positive results.

“To that end, I feel confident that if the court proceeds with wisdom and with decisions based on the facts, and on the law, that we will succeed in our case," his statement concludes.

Franken holds an official lead of 225 votes, but is believed to have an unofficial lead of about 260 votes, based on the panel’s prior rulings.

The judges hearing the election contest have spent the week deliberating behind closed doors to determine which ballots should be counted. It’s unknown how long those deliberations will take.

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