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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In letter forwarding proposed plea, prosecutor Renz repeatedly reminded Craig of his right to counsel and warned that plea would result in "a conviction for Disorderly Conduct appearing on [his] criminal record"

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) As a result of my telephone conversation with him and my follow-up email request yesterday, Patrick Hogan, the director of public affairs for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission, graciously emailed to me today the two-page letter dated July 20, 2007, under cover of which part-time prosecutor Chris Renz forwarded to Sen. Larry Craig the three-page written motion to enter a guilty plea that Renz had drafted for Sen. Craig's review and possible signature. Sen. Craig signed the motion on August 1st and returned it for filing with the Hennepin County District Clerk. I had noticed a reference to and short quote from Renz' cover letter in an August 28th Associated Press report, but I had not been able to find the full text or an image of the letter anywhere on the internet.

Renz' July 20th cover letter is a precise, entirely fair, and altogether professional piece of work. The AP reporter who only quoted it briefly obviously didn't appreciate its full significance, because in my opinion, it spells the absolute doom of Sen. Craig's efforts to withdraw his guilty plea.

Of critical importance for purposes of the upcoming hearing on September 26th on Sen. Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea: In its very first paragraph, this letter repeatedly reminds Sen. Craig that he still had the right to have the assistance of counsel for the specific purpose of deciding whether or not to enter his plea of guilty to the disorderly conduct charge as part of a proposed plea bargain for the dismissal of the peeping charge (emphasis mine):

Please find enclosed a Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty-Misdemeanor in the above-referenced matter. Please review the document and to the extent that you wish, review the same with legal counsel. If you understand the contents of the Petition and agree thereto, please sign the bottom of pages 1, 2 and 3, as well as sign and date top most signature block on page 3. To the extent that you review the agreement or consult with an attorney regarding the agreement, please enter that attorney's name at paragraph 7 and have them complete the final signature block on the agreement. To the extent that you are not consulting with an attorney or represented by an attorney, please appropriately circle "am not" in paragraph 7.

The letter confirms my previous inference that Renz and Craig had spoken by phone before Renz drafted and sent Craig the proposed motion, and that — far from trying to stampede Craig — Renz had actually arranged for a two-week continuance of Sen. Craig's original July 25th appearance deadline in order that Sen. Craig could have time to consider the plea carefully:

Please return the petition and the [fines and fees] payment so that it is received before August 8, 2007, which is the date to which your arraignment appearance is being continued, as we discussed....

More importantly, however, compare Sen. Craig's attorneys' current spin from his motion (at page 2 of the .pdf file; boldface mine) —

While in this state of intense anxiety, Senator Craig felt compelled to grasp the lifeline offered to him by the police officer [on June 8th after his arrest]; namely that if he were to submit to an interview and plead guilty, then none of the officer's allegations would be made public. Thus, rather than seek legal advice from an attorney to assist him in publicly fighting these charges and potentially protract the issue, Senator Craig's panic drove him to accept a guilty plea, the terms of which offered him what he thought was a private, expeditious resolution of this matter.

— with this sentence from prosecutor Renz' letter that Sen. Craig quite literally had placed into his hands simultaneously with the proposed plea agreement (boldface mine):

Agreeing to the Petition will result in a conviction for Disorderly Conduct appearing on your criminal record.

Point, game, set, match. If you can't hear the fat lady already finishing her warm-ups, it could only be because you've got your fists plugged into your ears and you're singing "LA-LA-LA-I-can't-hear-you" at the top of your lungs. (Or because you're a once-powerful U.S. senator in a serious state of denial.)

I don't know how to say this politely, so I will be blunt: It is inconceivable that when they drafted Sen. Craig's motion, his lawyers did not know of this cover letter. And it is inexplicable to me how any competent lawyer could let his client commit under oath to the notion that he thought his conviction under the guilty plea would not be a matter of public record when he also knew that a letter like this existed. Failing to acknowledge and describe the contents of this letter to the court in their motion borders upon the unethical, and as a tactical decision, it's likely to be about as smart as lighting a barbecue grill aboard the Hindenburg.

Previously, I was guestimating that Sen. Craig had about a 50/50 chance on his motion succeeding. That was based almost entirely on the apparent fact that the motion to enter his guilty plea didn't contain the specific recital required by Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 15.02(3) to establish that "the defendant [knew] there is a right to the assistance of counsel at every stage of the proceedings and that counsel will be appointed for a defendant unable to afford counsel." But this letter almost certainly, and almost conclusively, remedies that omission. And it destroys Sen. Craig's remaining tatters of credibility — and frankly, that of his lawyers, too — by exploding their claim that Sen. Craig had pleaded guilty based on some explicit or implicit understanding that this would all be hushed up if he'd only go along with the guilty plea.

My revised estimation is that Sen. Craig's odds of prevailing on his motion are somewhere below 5%. The only kind of judge who could grant this motion would be the kind who elevates procedural form over all substance, who cares nothing about whether procedural violations have even arguably prejudiced the defendant, and who is also remarkably unoffended by lawyers and litigants who lack fundamental candor. Personally, either as a lawyer or a citizen, I find Sen. Craig's and his lawyers' duplicitous effort to mislead the court considerably more disgusting than anything Sen. Craig is alleged to have done in the men's restroom of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.


Previous posts on the Craig matter, oldest to most recent:

  1. The answer to the "Why was this a crime?" crowd on the Craig matter
  2. Craig "reconsidering" resignation; and his chance to withdraw his guilty plea is probably better than Beldar first presumed
  3. Has Larry Craig hired the part-time prosecutor who filed the complaint against him?
  4. Craig swears that on the date of his arrest, he "decided to seek a guilty plea to whatever charge would be lodged" against him

Posted by Beldar at 09:10 PM in Law (2007), Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to In letter forwarding proposed plea, prosecutor Renz repeatedly reminded Craig of his right to counsel and warned that plea would result in "a conviction for Disorderly Conduct appearing on [his] criminal record" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» ACLU files silly brief in support of Craig's plea withdrawal from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Sep 17, 2007 11:00:28 PM

» Prosecution moves to strike ACLU amicus brief supporting Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Sep 21, 2007 6:46:04 PM

» Of pleas and piñatas: No surprises in prosecution's response to Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Sep 24, 2007 9:07:28 PM

» Craig plans to ditch hearing, but Renz should object to his affidavit as hearsay and force Craig to take the stand from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Sep 25, 2007 6:09:35 PM

» Just "one procedural question" for prosecutor Renz as he opposed Sen. Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Sep 28, 2007 6:29:18 AM

» Is Craig's strategy "winning by losing," counting on colleagues and constituents to confuse "innocent until proven guilty" with "guilty (but pending further appeals)"? from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Oct 1, 2007 11:10:35 PM

» Minnesota trial court rejects Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Oct 4, 2007 3:33:03 PM


(1) Carol Herman made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 9:31:39 PM | Permalink

Up ahead, Bush has to decide whom to nominate for Gonzales' empty seat. In the past, since Jimmy Carter's days; these nominations take 3-weeks to fill. Since the Internet is now here, it's obvious the pundits, alone, at the fish wraps, can't "spin" anything. Because, we live, as I said, in this world were we can pluck out the information that's worthy.

I actually think Wide-Stance Larry IS guilty. I even believe the one reason homosexuals use hand signals, is that most of the men using bathrooms, are entering these public spaces to relieve "nature's calls." And, a number of men, if you accidentally verbalized, that you'd like them to watch you swing your pecker. Or would "like" other adult stuff "mutually acceptable," you might find yourself up-ended by your ankles. And, uncerimoniously dumped in a toilet bowl; with same being flushed. Then? Well, you could come out, and say, you "received a wash with that." Or you could receive a bloody nose. That's why the signals are "hand-signals." WELL KNOWN, to those who are out looking for this stuff.

How do hand-signals develop? You know, I have no idea. I never belonged to either a sorority or a gang. But these group rituals have a long history. Like you said in one of your other posts; when Craig challenged the policeman with "you solicited me," he gave away the ballgame. To know, meant he was scouting for poon. Or whatever it's called when men eliminate the broad.

Scalia must be seething. He saw what happened when you legitimize sodomy. Now? The question will be getting surgery; so it sounds like entering a stall "gives you privacy." KABOOM. Flushing toilets are marriage rights. Who knew?

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 9:53:24 PM | Permalink

Your recent posts are spectacular, Beldar. Absolutely spectacular.

(3) nk made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 10:32:15 PM | Permalink

Good Lord. Beldar, this post is more than a little bit newsworthy. Have you forwarded it to somebody(ies) who might care?

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 10:48:35 PM | Permalink

Naw, nk, I'm just a guy sitting at my computer, probably in my parents' basement, probably wearing pajamas.

But you can feel free to forward it as you wish, if you know anyone in the "news bidness."

(5) Linus made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 11:18:53 PM | Permalink

I'm an Idahoan who said to his friends when this story first broke, "watch. How Craig handles himself in the wake of this will do FAR, FAR more to damage his credibility and standing than being arrested for disorderly conduct in a Minnesota restroom." Of course, I don't have a blog, so now, no one believes me. But it didn't take a freakin' genius to see this coming.

(6) nk made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 11:44:43 PM | Permalink

I did. To Drudge and Instapundit. Sorry. The only one I know personally in the news business is on the business side and not on the editorial side.

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 5:32:31 AM | Permalink

It would never have occurred to me, nk, to forward this to Drudge, but that shows how limited my thinking is. I did break down, at your suggestion, and email a few cross-over bloggers with MSM connections and a couple of print reporters, but ... meh, we'll see.

Revision note: Added a photo of Sen. Craig and some "text call-out" graphics that I made using Trial Director 5.1 (a courtroom presentation graphics package I've been meaning to blog about for several months now, but that I haven't previously used for anything on the blog).

(8) eric made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 9:42:07 AM | Permalink

Good work. I just looked at that letterhead and realize that I deal with that firm all the time in my work. Heh, small world.

(9) sam made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 9:51:59 AM | Permalink

I'm happy that you pointed out that no one was trying to railroad Craig. While no prosecutor or LE officer wants to be defamed, they do put these cases in perspective.

(10) David Ehrenstein made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 10:02:56 AM | Permalink

Yes the Fat Lady has indeed sung. And her aria "Nessun Dorma" -- directed at all the other hypocritical Republicans, who will be tumbling out of closets everywhere, like the stateroom scene in "A Night at the Opera."

Pay close attention to Patrick McHenry. It's gonna be a doozy!

(11) Dan S made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 10:43:40 AM | Permalink



So glad you ended your hiatus.

(12) sam made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 2:17:49 PM | Permalink

David: We're more afraid of you tumbling out of the closet and declaring yourself a Republican.

(13) David Ehrenstein made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 4:22:04 PM | Permalink

Are you talking to me, Sam? Cause I've been out of the closet since 1961.

And I am NOT a Republican.

(14) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 5:25:21 PM | Permalink

Folks, let's stay reasonably close to on-topic and try to avoid comments that are directed at (as opposed to) other commenters. T'anks.

(15) eric made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 9:51:16 PM | Permalink

I can't wait for Judge Porter to weigh in on this. I put it on my calendar.

(16) eric` made the following comment | Sep 13, 2007 11:53:24 PM | Permalink

The only kind of judge who could grant this motion would be the kind who elevates procedural form over all substance, who cares nothing about whether procedural violations have even arguably prejudiced the defendant, and who is also remarkably unoffended by lawyers and litigants who lack fundamental candor.

I agree. And in front of Judge Porter, I think Craig has a real problem. Porter is a great judge who has been on the bench for more than 20 years. He appreciates the law and has a history of cutting through BS. If I have a solid legal argument, I like Judge Porter. Otherwise, I don't.

In my view, Porter will be reluctant to reverse a plea taken by another judge.

I hear through media reports that Craig may not even be present at the hearing. In that case, I think his chances are a lot lower. In my opinion, Porter would like to hear from Craig in person.

BTW, Porter is a military guy. That is what it is.

(17) Carol Herman made the following comment | Sep 14, 2007 12:02:03 PM | Permalink

To understand Larry Craig's motivations better, now that I sent to Amazon for Tea-room Trade; I've learned that in these sexual encounters ... where men who are married ... look for quick "fixes" in toilets; part of the "charm" is LIVING DANGEROUSLY. Where getting caught actually leads to more of these behaviors. Not fewer of them.

Larry Craig is voluptously in 7th heaven. Because he thinks his fwends in the senate, will "halp" him retract his "resignation INTENT." Could be true, too; if you add into this equation all the Bonkey senators who'd hoot "YEA" if it comes to a vote. The GOP is sunk. At least the senators in the GOP are sunk. They're terrified and spooked. And, Larry Craig, as I said, is in 7th heaven.

Because part of this public bathroom sex, is always the idea "the man can get caught." And, this makes it all the bigger "thrill." By the time this is over, you'll know more about "tea-rooms," and how pervasive this kind of thing really is. By the way, I've always suspected that Mark Felt, the #2 guy at the FBI, who gave Woodward all those leads ... was a man who had homosexual sex with Woodward. Meeting him at the White HOuse; when Woodward was still in the Navy. 27 years old. In uniform. And, waiting in the Executive's ante room, for "signatures" on documents. From that eye-contact, onward; you'd see how strong homosexual bonds could be. While at the same time leaving no trails for others to discover.

Except that in Tea-Room Trade, Laud Humphreys discusses the military. ***

Don't believe me? Watch as this "wide stance" Larry gets played out. He's counting on Americans being unaware. And, he's counting on the legal process to bury it, too. But if he's guessed wrong? Well, Bill Clinton guessed wrong about blow jobs. Another topic you never thought would be discussed on the news. News Ahead.

[Carol: I've edited the most distasteful references from this comment, which previously appeared where the asterisks are now, because they're in very bad taste. Let's not go insulting the entire Navy or Marine Corps please, or even large percentages of them. — Beldar]

(18) Carol Herman made the following comment | Sep 15, 2007 8:58:18 PM | Permalink

Beldar: TEAROOM, by Laud Humphreys is a real book. And, it's a study of this particular behavior. I DID NOT MAKE IT UP!

Do people realize the extent of homosexuality on government? I think NOT.

I think Nixon was taken down, not just by a lockup between Woodward, and the #2 guy at the FBI; but that it was TREASONOUS.

And, yet? The press got away with it. Nixon fell. And, we're still re-living this disaster; as the elites in the press are going after Bush.

Just for argument's sake. IF Hillary gets nominated; and the Bonkeys can steal enough votes, and she wins ...

I have a feeling "ugly politics" will continue.

Oh, yes. In TEAROOM, it's discussed how many men go there; for the "secrecy" as much as anything else.

WHile similar to Bill Clinton's antics with Monica; as much as you try to explain it; no one really believes this stuff actually flies.

Perhaps, ahead, if Larry Craig is not protected by the judge; who let him withdraw his plea ... will people pay attention beyond what you claim is "distasteful references."

I believe it was an article by Christopher Hitchens; that alerted me to the existence of TEAROOM TRADE. And, I went to Amazon to order it.

So, yes. From this study, done on men who frequent toilets, came real, sociological study.

No, I didn't pull numbers out of a hat. I read something that helped me learn about behaviors done, and so few women even have clues.

Laud Humphreys by the way was a Divinity Student.

You'd learn a lot if you took language for what it's worth; and for what it can disclose.

You bet, Woodward was WRONG! And, the whole schtick with his "secret" deep throat extravaganza; was breaking the law in broad daylight.

Connect the dots.

(19) Ralph Barsoni made the following comment | Sep 24, 2007 4:25:06 PM | Permalink

Beldar, old pal, here's the link to the Statesman article which links to pdf file for the Renz motion and affadavit. Enjoy.


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