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Friday, September 21, 2007

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

Yesterday the prosecution in Sen. Larry Craig's case filed a very short motion to strike the very silly amicus brief previously filed by the ACLU in support of Craig's pending motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The prosecution's supporting memorandum argues that Minnesota law doesn't permit amicus briefs in trial court proceedings, but then goes on to address the ACLU brief's merits, or rather, the lack thereof.

I doubt there will be a formal ruling on the motion to strike before the oral argument scheduled for next Wednesday, September 26th, on Craig's motion. And I suspect that the real point of yesterday's filing was not such much to try to make the judge pretend he hasn't even read the ACLU's brief as, instead, to (a) rebut it and (b) give the judge a ready excuse (if he wants or needs one) for not bothering to address the ACLU's arguments directly if he makes an oral or written explanation for his ruling on Craig's motion.

I didn't see any particular surprises in this filing, but I'm still looking forward to seeing the prosecution's response on the merits to Craig's motion, hopefully next Monday.


In the meantime, Craig continues to leave open the possibility that he might not leave the Senate by his self-imposed September 30th deadline:

U.S. Sen. Larry Craig said Thursday that he's waiting to find out whether a judge dismisses his guilty plea next week before he decides whether he'll step down from the Senate at the end of the month.

"I just don't know yet," Craig said, when asked whether he would resign Sept. 30.

His decision to continue in office past his self-imposed deadline will depend on "the legal issues, and those kind of things I'm working on," Craig, R-Idaho, told McClatchy Newspapers in a brief interview.

I don't suppose Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the power to require Craig to file a written motion to withdraw his "intent to resign" announcement. But he may have other remedies in mind to crank up the pressure on Craig to keep his promises at least in that respect, even if Craig is successful at next week's hearing.

I continue to believe Craig won't be, however. And I continue to hope that the prosecution call Craig to the witness stand at the hearing next week — which, as I've previously written, I believe the prosecution is entitled to do based on Craig's having submitted a sworn affidavit with his motion. Faced with a snap decision whether to take the stand to face cross-examination or not, Craig might drop his motion to withdraw his guilty plea on the spot. Of course, that would presume that he and his lawyers have a rational appreciation of their risks and benefits, and there's no evidence yet to support that theory, and considerable contrary evidence.


Finally for now, just in case this case isn't bizarre enough for you yet, there's this:

[T]he American Land Rights Association, based in Battle Ground, Wash., says that Craig's misadventures were actually just another salvo in the "War on the West."

As the ALRA explained in an e-mail to members: "By ambushing Senator Larry Craig, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police have effectively declared war on the West. They are primarily responsible for greatly weakening private property rights and Federal land use advocates in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and in Congress. We are urging you to make all your flight arrangements avoiding the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport for at least the next year and probably longer. We'll keep you posted as the boycott develops."

Oh, yes. Please keep us posted. From there in the second stall on the left, Sgt. Karsnia seems likely to grind all free Westerners under the heel of, umm, Minnesotan hegemony.


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
  5. 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"
  6. ACLU files silly brief in support of Craig's plea withdrawal

Posted by Beldar at 06:22 PM in Law (2007), Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Prosecution moves to strike ACLU amicus brief supporting Craig's motion to withdraw guilty plea and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» 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 8:42:50 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 6:03:25 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 6:10:45 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 11:06:16 PM

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

Tracked on Oct 4, 2007 3:22:57 PM


(1) Al Petrofsky made the following comment | Sep 22, 2007 3:23:58 PM | Permalink

Beldar, thanks for your excellent coverage of this case.

I think Craig could have beat these charges if he had stuck with his initial defense: "You solicited me" (Interview transcript, Ex. C to the motion to withdraw plea). He also could have easily beat any attempt to expel him from the Senate. The incident still would have greatly reduced his chances of reelection in 2008, but it's not clear whether he was even going to run again, anyway.

From Sergeant Karsnia's own account, it is clear that Karsnia's responsive foot-tapping was intended to convey sexual interest, and Craig correctly interpreted it (see Karsnia's report, Ex. B to the motion to withdraw). Therefore, Craig's post-Karsnia-tap actions, which were all advances visible only to a person who had communicated interest, were not conduct that would "tend to alarm, anger or disturb" anyone, as required by the disorderly conduct statute (Minn. Stat. 609.72(1)(3)).

Craig's only significant pre-Karsnia-tap actions were: (1) glancing through the door crack, and (2) making an opening tap inside the confines of his own stall. I can't imagine that simply glancing through the door crack to confirm whether a stall is occupied (and not putting one's eye right up to the crack to peep through, but just glancing at the narrow vertical slice that can be seen from "three feet away" - see Karsnia, Id.) truly qualifies as a peeping misdemeanor (M.S. 609.746, officially titled "Interference With Privacy"; page 2 of the complaint shows that the abbreviation for it is "PEEP"). As for Craig's opening, non-invasive foot-tap, it was ambiguous (in contrast to Karsnia's tap-back) and discreet. It would not alarm a reasonable person.

However, despite all this, and the fact that I'm a Californian who has long believed that marriage law should be gender-blind, I agree with you on the bottom line. Craig made his bed with his eyes wide open (the fateful moment being sometime between August 1 and August 8 when he dropped the signed plea petition into a mailbox). He did not irrevocably decide to plead guilty on the date of the offense while in a confused state of shock. He negotiated a deal over the course of a month and a half. I think he correctly calculated that the probability of the case remaining widely-unknown was higher if he pleaded rather than defended. The chance was still very low, but he decided that taking this long-shot was his favorite option. He knowingly gambled, and he lost. Had the gamble paid off, he never would have complained.

By the way, here's the full email from the American Land Rights Association: link

After the opening nutty assertion that "the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport Police have effectively declared war on the West", the rest of the email is disappointingly sane.

I do like this line, though: "We must inflict economic pain on the airport authorities to get them to change their behavior." I doubt they will get the "pain compliance" they seek. Somehow, I don't see the airport authorities yelling out "Don't 'cott me, bro!" and then rapidly complying.

(2) maynard made the following comment | Sep 24, 2007 2:25:51 PM | Permalink

The Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota has a web page with all the filings on this matter: link

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