Larry Craig

Excerpts from Minnesota District Judge Charles Porter's decision:

Standard for Withdrawal

(T)he standard for withdrawal is higher after the sentence is imposed: the court may allow a defendant to withdraw the plea only if the motion is timely made and "withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice." ... A manifest injustice occurs when a plea is not accurately, voluntarily, or intelligently made. ...

The Defendant next argues that his guilty plea lacked a sufficient factual basis. ...

Here, because the Defendant concedes Sgt. Karsnia's facts as alleged in the Complaint are true, and because a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the restroom stall, the facts alleged in the Complaint provide a sufficient supplemental factual basis for a conviction of disorderly conduct. The Defendant knew or should have known his entrance into Sgt. Karsnia's stall with his eyes, foot, and hand are the type of acts that would "tend reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others." ...

The Defendant next argues the overall plea record is deficient because Judge Larson did not question him on the record about the factual basis. The Defendant reasons that if Judge Larson had questioned him live, Judge Larson would have realized the Defendant did not intend to plead guilty to the specific facts alleged by Sgt. Karsnia. This is a circular argument. The Defendant chose to not appear and to enter his plea by mail just so he could avoid any such publicly, of record, inquiry into his conduct. He kept many of the facts out of the record in so doing. He cannot now complain that he should not have been allowed to take advantage of an approved method to enter a misdemeanor plea.

By signing and dating each page of the guilty plea petition, the Defendant acknowledged that his waiver of appearance also waived the right to present evidence contrary to a conviction. Nothing in the petition even hints at a lack of guilt of the offense of disorderly conduct. Nothing in this record supports, in any way, a contention by the Defendant, that in any of his dealings with Mr. Renz or with the court, he denied his guilt. Because the Defendant waived his appearance for the plea and sentencing, he cannot challenge the absence of questioning of him by the court about the factual basis for the plea and his admission to those facts. It is not a manifest injustice to force the Defendant to be bound by his plea bargain and the waivers and admissions which he made in conjunction with the execution of that bargain.

The Defendant's Guilty Plea Was Voluntary

The Defendant argues his plea was not voluntary because he pled guilty in response to media pressure and to a police interrogation. A plea is voluntary if it is not made in response to improper pressures of inducements. ...

The two month lapse in time between the arrest and the plea negates any reasonable conclusion that the questioning by Sgt. Karsnia in June overrode the Defendant's free will in such a way that he was forced by events in June, to plead guilty in August. It is hard to imagine that any interrogation could be that aggressive, but clearly the one here was not. During the two months between the arrest and the guilty plea, the Defendant had several rational and methodical conversations with the prosecutor, including one in which the prosecutor extended a plea offer and advised the Defendant to consult an attorney. Mr. Renz was clearly the Defendant's actual adversary and the Defendant knew it. ...

The Defendant's Guilty Plea Was Intelligent

The Defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of, at least, above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading, and signing. ....

Here, the charges against the Defendant were stated in plain language, and given his intelligence, the Defendant undoubtedly understood them.

In this case, the Defendant argues he maintained his innocence even through the date of his guilty plea. The pre-plea court record contains no evidence of the Defendant asserting his innocence at any time. The Defendant never entered a plea of "not guilty." He has not asserted that he told Mr. Renz that he was not guilty. Rather, he waived his appearance and pled guilty on the date of his first appearance.

The Defendant had several conversations with Mr. Renz prior to pleading guilty, but even these conversations involving plea negotiation are not alleged by the Defendant to have contained protestations of a lack of guilt. At the time Judge Larson accepted the Defendant's plea petition, the court's record of this case contained no information in the nature of a denial of guilt such as to put Judge Larson on notice of the need for further inquiry. ...

The Defendant argues Sgt. Karsnia lied when he said this case would not be made public. This argument misstates the evidence. Sgt. Karsnia told the Defendant that he had a policy of not contacting media ("I don't call media. I don't do any of that type of crap.") Craig Memo. Ex. C at 3. Sgt. Karsnia did not broadly represent that the media would never find out about this case. ...

there is neither an allegation nor evidence that Sgt. Karsnia directly or indirectly caused this case to become public. ...

The Defendant's guilty plea was intelligently made. Judge Larson's acceptance of this intelligent plea is not a manifest injustice. ...

The Disorderly Conduct Statute is Necessary to Preserve Order in a Civilized Society

The Defendant challenges the disorderly conduct statute as a whole on the basis that it is overly broad and vague. However, the statute has been upheld as constitutionally valid. ...

The disorderly conduct statute is a broad, "catch-all" statute designed to criminalize certain behavior that is offensive and counterproductive to a civilized society. ...

CONCLUSION

Because the Defendant's plea was accurate, voluntary, and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence, the Defendant's conviction for disorderly conduct occurring on June 11, 2007 in the men's public restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Bloomington, Hennepin County, Minnesota, is valid.

Accordingly, the Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea is DENIED.

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