Minnesota Court Doesn’t Toss Witness — Is Fining Coleman Campaign For Misconduct, Instead

The Minnesota election court just announced their decision after last week’s blow-up, which involved secret e-mails by Coleman lawyers showing that they intentionally delayed telling the Franken side about a key witness, precinct election judge Pamela Howell.

The bottom line: Howell is not being struck from the record, nor is the double-counting claim connected to her being tossed, as Team Franken wanted. Instead, the court is going to fine the Coleman campaign for the amount of time that this whole back and forth has cost.

“Clearly, we’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about this,” said Judge Elizabeth Hayden, “weighing what would be the proper sanction.”

The court is pretty much in a bind here — if they strike the witness or the double-counting claim, they could leave too much room for an appeal by Coleman. They’ve clearly taken the most cautious road: To let this testimony play out.

Franken lawyer David Lillehaug, a former U.S. attorney, is now questioning Howell — and it’s pretty rough so far, as Lillehaug moves to discredit her as a partisan Coleman witness. More on that in a bit.