Follow-Through: Sheehan v. Franken Dismissed

One thing the media doesn’t often do is follow-through. Some juicy news story pops up on the radar, and everybody is all over it. A resolution that occurs days or weeks later, though, gets little coverage.

Something of that phenomenon can be seen in the defamation lawsuit incumbent Minnesota senator Norm Coleman filed (via his campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan) against challenger Al Franken. That story was reported nationally.

More recently, though, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that Coleman had not provided the necessary information to show a violation of the statute cited in the lawsuit. That information has only turned up on a few sites so far. I found it on a TV station’s website, and there are a couple of other weblogs that have noted it.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Complainant has failed to demonstrate
probable cause to believe that the Respondent violated Minn. Stat. 211B.06
with respect to the statement that Senator Coleman was ranked or named the
fourth most corrupt Senator by a bipartisan watchdog group. Accordingly, the
Complaint is DISMISSED.

Further information in the dismissal reveals that Franken had asked for legal costs, and the court denied that, saying that the complaint was not frivolous.

The story, though, stayed static through the critical final days of the campaign between the two candidates. The dismissal of the lawsuit should have no effect on the recount. The same may not be true of the election itself, where Coleman had a lead of just over two hundred votes over his rival in the first count.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.