Thursday, October 4, 2007

Craig Motion Denied by Minn Court

ACLU brief on Craig's behalf also denied

Posted on Thu, Oct 4, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Hit Refresh often. We're updating this as we go.

Judge Charles Porter ruled today that he is denying U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's motion to withdraw his plea.

Update: Craig made the argument that he didn't fully understand the significance of his acts in the Minneapolis airport in June, or the charges that applied to them when he was arrested by Sgt. Dave Karsnia.

In his ruling today (PDF file), Judge Porter called some of Craig's arguments "illogical."

Craig argued that the written plea did not offer specific details of his crime, and therefore he did not know the details of what led to his arrest, and that he did not admit to actually doing those actions.

In response Judge Porter states, “This is illogical.”

The ruling states that Craig has openly admitted in an affidavit that he pled in an effort to avoid his arrest becoming public knowledge. It also states that the plea was accompanied by the criminal complaint, complete with details of the arrest.

Craig also argued that Judge Larson, who dealt with his initial guilty plea, did not question him in person, and did not understand that Craig did not know what he was pleading to. Judge Porter calls this “a circular argument.

“The defendant chose not to appear and to enter his plea by mail just so he could avoid any such publicly, of record, inquiry into his conduct. He kept many of the facts out of the recording in so doing. He cannot now complain that he should have been allowed to take advantage of an approved method to enter a misdemeanor plea.”

The ruling also points to the language in Craig’s written plea, which states clearly that he was giving up his right to attend his own hearing. It also says that Craig never denied his guilt at any point during the legal process.

Furthermore, Craig argued that he made his guilty plea "in haste," so he might "avoid the public disclosure" of the facts that he's now disputing.

"This Court believes that the Defendant's plea had a more than sufficient factual basis on the face of the petition," Judge Porter wrote.

After a lengthy retelling of the original report from Sgt. Karsnia, Judge Porter also further notes that Craig's actions in that now-famous bathroom would "alarm, anger or disturb a person of normal sensibilities using an enclosed stall in a public restroom."

"If the Defendant did not actually know of this result, he should have so known. A person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public restroom stall," Judge Porter wrote.

As part of his argument, Craig said that his plea was not made intelligently.

Judge Porter took issue with this statement.

“The defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading and signing,” Porter writes in the ruling.

He also states that Craig was advised by the prosecutor in the case to consult an attorney, and that the charges were written in plain English.

“Given his intelligence, the defendant undoubtedly understood them,” the ruling states. “Even though the defendant says he rushed to plead guilty, his perceived haste that occurred over the course of two months did not diminish the Defendant’s ability to understand the charges.

Initially, Craig announced his intent to resign effective Sept. 30, but soon afterwards, said he was considering remaining in office.

Most recently, Craig announced he would put off his decision on whether to step down until he learned if he would be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. If he does remain in office, Craig could face a Senate ethics investigation.

From Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office: "He's ready to act. He's made a decision" on Craig's replacement, said Jon Hanian, Otter's spokesman. It's all up to Craig, now.

Oh, never mind: Craig says he's staying.

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