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Senate election trial judges reject city official's request for more money to testify

ST. PAUL - The U.S. Senate election trial judges rejected a Duluth city official's request for more money in return for his trial testimony.

The three-judge panel this afternoon ruled that Duluth Clerk Jeff Cox is not entitled to reimbursement beyond what traditionally is given witnesses.

Al Franken's campaign last week sent Cox a subpoena to testify in the trial. With the help of the city attorney's office, Cox challenged that order, claiming that if he is going to testify, he must be paid much more than the campaign offered.

Franken's campaign gave Cox a check for $105, which included a standard $20 witness fee and mileage. Cox sought more than $1,100, arguing he should be paid for every hour used in relation to the trial and deserves extra compensation for travel expenses.

Attorneys for Franken and for Norm Coleman said Duluth's request was unusual.

In their ruling, the judges said that the election trial is a matter of "public concern" and that they must decide which candidate received the highest number of votes.

"The testimony of election officials who have personal knowledge of facts relating to the Nov. 4, 2008 election has proven necessary in making this determination," the judges wrote. "Testifying in an election contest about the election process that he/she supervised is an important part of an election official's responsibilities."

"Due to the public nature of Cox's position and this proceeding, he is not entitled to additional compensation," the court added.

Franken's attorneys plan to begin calling witnesses Tuesday morning.