Criminal Procedure

Craig Plea Issue Ended By Call to Resign?

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Updated: Given the difficulty of withdrawing a guilty plea, Sen. Larry Craig is unlikely to succeed in his apparent effort to do so.

The Republican lawmaker from Idaho announced yesterday that he had hired a lawyer to review his plea to a disorderly conduct charge that arose from a June restroom sting operation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, as discussed in an earlier post. But unless he can show “manifest injustice”—a very difficult standard to meet—Craig won’t be able to reopen the case, Stephen Simon, a University of Minnesota Law School professor, tells ABC News.

“It’s a final thing. If you put in a plea, that’s that,” adds Jeff Mohr, a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer. “Unless there are really unusual circumstances, he wouldn’t be able to withdraw.”

Meanwhile, as some, including New York Times blogger Mike Nizza, point out that it isn’t clear Craig actually committed any crime, a reopened disorderly conduct case, even if that could be achieved, appears unlikely to help the senator much politically. As the day progressed, several of his Republican colleagues were calling not only for an investigation (as several did yesterday) but for Craig to resign, according to CNN. He has already been stripped of his committee leadership posts, the New York Times reports.

“I believe that he pleaded guilty, and he had the opportunity to plead innocent,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona told CNN. “So, I think he should resign. My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn’t serve.”

(Updated 8-29-07 at 4:09 p.m. CST)

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