Al Franken's legal team could collect up to $94,000 from Norm Coleman to cover court costs in the seven-week U.S. Senate trial, according to an administrative ruling by the Ramsey County District Court Clerk's Office.
Franken's team had sought $161,000, but a deputy county clerk rejected a request that Coleman pay Franken for his cost of obtaining public records that made up much of the exhibits in the trial.
The decision is preliminary, pending a more precise accounting of costs that the clerk says are eligible for reimbursement. Moreover, if either Coleman or Franken objects to the decision, they can ask the three-judge panel that oversaw the trial for a review.
Not included in the request are $16,000 in attorneys fees that Franken wants Coleman to pay for sanctions the panel imposed after Coleman's lawyers failed to disclose information about Republican election judge Pamela Howell before her testimony.
In legal documents, Coleman's lawyers have argued that payment of court costs should be delayed pending the outcome of their appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
If Coleman prevailed on appeal, they said, "then [Franken's] request for ... costs and disbursements will become moot." And if Franken prevails on appeal, the panel can promptly order Coleman to pay him.
Coleman spokesman Tom Erickson added Thursday, "We intend to pay what we owe when the court process is completed," and said he was referring to the roughly $94,000.
But Franken attorney David Lillehaug said that state law says the prevailing party in a trial can be awarded court costs by a court administrator on two days notice and that there is no requirement that appeals be exhausted. The panel ruled in favor of Franken April 13 and said he was entitled to an election certificate to be seated in the Senate.
"Judgment has been entered," Lillehaug wrote. "There is no good reason to delay determination of costs" or awarding them.
The clerk's office gave Franken and Coleman until June 1 to ask for a hearing before the three-judge panel if they disagree with the decision on allowable costs.
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210