Criminal Procedure

Judge: Sen. Craig Can't Withdraw Guilty Plea

  • Print

Updated: In a ruling that could sound the death knell for Sen. Larry Craig’s career in office, a Minnesota judge has ruled that the Idaho Republican can’t withdraw his guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge. However, Craig reportedly says he won’t resign, despite the urgings of many members of his own party.

Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter held today that Craig’s plea was “accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and … supported by the evidence,” reports Reuters. Craig’s lawyers contended at a hearing last week that he panicked over the charge and made the plea without due consideration. The American Civil Liberties Union has taken a position in support of Craig, saying that his conviction was unconstitutional, as an earlier post discusses.

A copy of the judge’s order and a supporting memorandum are provided by the Wall Street Journal.

The disorderly conduct case against Craig resulted from a police sex-sting operation in a men’s restroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. When the case hit the news, it prompted immediate and widespread criticism of Craig from his own party and pressure to resign not only from his leadership posts but from office. Craig previously said he would resign by Sept. 30, but then seemed to backtrack as he attempted to revoke his guilty plea. Today he said will serve out his term, as he attempts to clear his name, but does not intend to run for another term, according to the Associated Press.

As discussed in previous posts, experts initially said that Craig might have won at trial, if he had fought the charge, but probably could not withdraw his adjudicated guilty plea. However, a recent state appellate court decision appeared to open the door to a possible plea withdrawal, according to the New York Times.

(Updated at 3:45 p.m., CDT.)

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.