Larry Craig

Legal experts say judge's ruling on Craig's case is on ‘very solid ground'

The ruling that denied Sen. Larry Craig's motion to dismiss his guilty plea to disorderly conduct was well-founded and researched, say a Boise criminal defense attorney and a University of Minnesota law professor.

The judge "addressed every argument made by Craig's attorneys and decided them against Craig," said Steve Simon, a University of Minnesota law professor.

District Judge Charles Porter "is on very solid ground," Simon said.

Porter shot down Craig's main argument that Craig made a mistake when he pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a men's room sex sting.

Craig, who was arrested June 11, had six weeks to make a decision that he would plead guilty to the charges, the judge wrote.

"The defendant argues he pled in haste to prevent the allegation in this case from being publicized, thus doing damage to his political reputation. This pressure was entirely perceived by the defendant and was not a result of any action by the police, the prosecutor or the court."

Porter scolded Craig for his argument that his plea was "not intelligently made."

"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," Porter wrote.

"It is hard for me to believe this opinion is vulnerable in any way on appeal," said Boise attorney David Nevin, who has defended high-profile clients including Randy Weaver and Sami Al-Hussayen, the former University of Idaho student who beat a federal charge that he aided terrorists. "This is a done deal as a practical matter."

The judge was also critical of Craig's claim that he was intimidated by the police officer who arrested him, Sgt. Dave Karsnia.

"The defendant may have felt intimidated by the situation, but he also acted with a degree of confidence when … he identified himself as a United States Senator and said, ‘What do you think about that?'" Porter wrote.

A spokesman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport said airport officials were pleased with Porter's decision to uphold Craig's guilty plea.

The ruling "continues to hold Senator Craig accountable for his conduct," said spokesman Patrick Hogan.

The only question where Craig might have an opportunity for an appeal would be on his contention that he was not advised on the right to an attorney, Simon said. But Porter "spent several pages pounding nails in the lid of that coffin."

Porter used pointed language in his decision, saying Craig's arguments were illogical or circular.

"I thought he was saying in no uncertain terms ‘I am not buying this. Not even a little. You're not really even close here,'" Nevin said.