Thursday, October 4, 2007

Senator Craig can't withdraw guilty plea

A Minnesota state court judge has ruled against Senator Larry Craig's motion to rescind his guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge made pursuant to his arrest in a "sex sting" in an airport men's room.

I do not believe that Mr. Craig's offense, such as it was, rose to the level of a crime. Yes, he appears to have solicited sex from another man in a public restroom, and sex in such a location has been criminalized. However, considering that there were no complainants other than the arresting officer (i.e. no victims), and that he was enticed into committing his "crime" by that officer, I see Mr. Craig as a victim of anti-gay entrapment of a sort that, while once commonplace, is thankfully becoming less so. A cop who makes himself available for sex with another man cannot arrest that man in the name of justice, only in the name of discrimination against gays.

The solution to the "problem" of men's room sex is exactly what the airport where this occurred has subsequently done: cover the gap between the stalls that created the conditions for the sex play in the first place. Now they should also end the practice of entrapping men seeking gay sex.

By the way, should someone have been injured by Mr. Craig's behavior, such as a child or even unwilling adult being exposed to it, that WOULD legitimately be called a crime and should be punished. That did not happen in this case.

One more thing: Mr. Craig has demonstrated the ultimate in hypocrisy by blaming the gay rights movement for his difficulty with the law. This position caps his long career of opposition to gay rights with an ironic, and sad, demonstration of his self-destructive sexual confusion and willingness to demagogue the issue.

from Judge won’t let Craig withdraw guilty plea:

A Minnesota judge has denied Sen. Larry Craig's request to withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from his arrest in a sex sting at an airport men's room.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, sought to withdraw his guilty plea stemming from a sex sting in an airport restroom.

Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter found Craig had entered the guilty plea "accurately, voluntarily and intelligently" and it was too late to withdraw his admission.

In a sharply worded, 27-page order, the judge found the Idaho Republican had freely given his plea after extensive discussions with prosecutors and after waiving his right to an attorney.

"The defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of at least above-average intelligence," Porter wrote. "He knew what he was saying, reading and signing."

There was no immediate response from Craig, who postponed his announced plan to resign from the Senate while seeking to withdraw his plea.

The senator's attorney, Billy Martin, argued last week that no judge signed off on the plea -- and, more importantly, that what Craig did in the restroom did not constitute disorderly conduct.

But Porter dismissed that argument, saying the facts police presented "provide a sufficient, supplemental, factual basis for a conviction of disorderly conduct."

The judge also dismissed Craig's argument that he was unfairly pressured to enter a quick guilty plea to avoid a public court appearance.

"This pressure was entirely perceived by the defendant and was not a result of any action by the police, the prosecutor or the court," he wrote.

The judge also said the transcript of the dialogue between Craig and the arresting police officer did not show "an improperly aggressive interrogation."

"There was no manifest injustice in the pressures to plead as perceived by the defendant," Porter wrote.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who had advocated that Craig fight to withdraw his guilty plea, said he wasn't surprised by the judge's decision.

"It's a question of law," Specter said. "I thought he had a chance. No doubt it's difficult to withdraw a guilty plea."

The Republican Senate leadership canceled a scheduled press conference after the judge's decision was released.

Craig was arrested June 11 by Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police, who accused him of making sexual overtures in an airport men's room to an undercover police officer.

Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August but sought to withdraw the plea after news of his arrest surfaced the following month.

Craig, who says he is not gay, argued that he entered the plea without legal advice, fearing that the allegations would be made public.

Craig had said he would resign from the Senate if he could not get the guilty plea withdrawn by the end of September -- but then said he would await Porter's ruling before deciding whether to step down.

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