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September 25, 2007

Senator Craig Takes Wide Stance On Motion To Vacate Plea; Prosecutor Takes Narrower Stance

Joke ripped off from Fark.

The prosecutor who handled the disorderly conduct case against Sen. Larry Craig says the Idaho Republican was calm and methodical as they discussed Craig entering a guilty plea.

Sen. Larry Craig is seeking to overturn his guilty plea stemming from an airport bathroom sex sting.

Craig also was warned that his case would be a matter of public record, said prosecutor Christopher Renz.

Renz's version of events contradicts claims the senator makes in his petition to vacate his guilty plea. The petition states Craig was in a state of panic over the allegations becoming public, and was driven to accept a guilty plea without seeking legal advice.

The petition also says Craig had been assured by the arresting officer that the matter would remain private.

Craig was arrested June 11 during a police sting in an airport men's room for allegedly making sexual overtures to an undercover male police officer. He entered a written guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge in August.

In an affidavit filed Monday in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota, Renz said he advised Craig to consult an attorney before entering a written guilty plea -- advice the senator did not take.

Renz said Craig, during a telephone conversation, questioned him about who would have access to his plea petition. Renz stated, "I explained that the plea petition would be filed with the court and the petition and convictions would be a matter of public record."

Renz said he had three phone conversations with Craig between the time of his arrest and his entering a guilty plea, all initiated by Craig. The senator "seemed calm, intelligent and methodical in his questions," Renz said in his affidavit.

On June 25 -- two weeks after Craig's arrest -- Renz said Craig left a voice mail message for him, wanting to talk about the case and asking that Renz return the call to Craig's personal cell phone.

...

"At no time during the conversations did the defendant appear to have a tone or sense of urgency, panic or overt emotion," Renz said.

But note that's just the prosecutor objecting to vacating the plea, which is to be expected.

I have a pretty strong hunch this plea will be vacated. Obviously Craig was more afraid of publc exposure than actual prosecution, so he was under more duress than many people might be. (Though I doubt anyone would be comfortable with a gay cruise sex charge on their record, save a male prostitute.)

Plus, the actual charge is, as others have pointed out, a bit sketchy.

Plus, and this is the killer: Imagine you're a liberal judge. You have the chance to both vacate a plea based on an ambiguous charge and sheer fear of exposure and possibly put a Republican held senate seat into tumult, maybe getting a Democrat elected in reddest of red Idaho.

Put yourself in the mind of a liberal judge: Is it even a difficult call to grant Craig's motion?

I don't think so. I think it's the easiest "So ordered" in legal history.

Oh, and I don't give a fig about the "manifest injustice" or whatever the standard is. The standard is whatever the judge reviewing the case thinks it is.


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posted by Ace at 05:50 PM

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