Does Sen. Craig really want a trial?

Yesterday in his press conference and on his website, Sen. Larry Craig said:

In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of making it go away. I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends, or family. That was a mistake, and I deeply regret it. Because of that, I have now retained counsel and I am asking my counsel to review this matter and to advise me on how to proceed.

Does he want a trial? Can he win a trial? I don't think so.


I have tried about a dozen cases involving men arrested in bathrooms or in similar situations. My record:  1 and 11. Why? These cases are hard to win because the credibility determination always favors the officer. Judges feel compelled to rid their communities of gay men trolling for anonymous sex in public bathrooms, as a "quality of life" crime.

CNN.com has all the relevant documents: the arrest report, the criminal complaint, and the record of the guilty plea to the reduced charge of disorderly conduct.

I've read the arrest report as an advocate, placing myself in the position of Craig's counsel. I've also considered the potential admissibility of similar acts, most of which maybe too old to be admissible, but maybe not. Can the prosecutor get in other bad acts of solicitation in men's rooms if they can bring in a witness? [The Idaho Statesman's source likely will not testify, even if disclosed.]

The big problem: the judge that tries this case probably has already heard several like it, considering the officer states in his report that there have been numerous complaints about this bathroom at this airport, and that's why the officer was there. The officer's detail (which will be recounted on MSNBC's Countdown tonight at 8 ET) adds to his credibility.

My recommendation: "Senator, you do not want a trial. The odds of conviction exceed 90%, because you have a cop who has successfully arrested others and a judge who has convicted others for the same thing. A conviction for this offense hurts you more than your denial with a disorderly plea."

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    What's he got to lose? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 08:47:25 AM EST
      On the face of it, he could have won a trial that was anything approaching fair had he asked for one. One presumes he didn't ask hoping to slip under the radar. That hope is gone.

      The bigger issue is what the standards are for withdrawing a plea post-judgment and sentencing in Minnesota. Often, once a plea is accepted in the absence of clear and convincing evidence the pleas was not knowing, intelligent and voluntary plea withdrawal is not permitted.


    With 55% of Idahoans calling for resignation (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 08:59:24 AM EST
    politically probably not a lot. However, I have to give some weight to a lawyer who has actually tried similar cases- the downside to vacating a plea (assuming it would be allowed) is to risk a more harsh penalty and to drag out his personal debacle longer. I think he would be better served by moving on.

    (I should note the GOP leadership will go nuts at the prospect of a public trial and with todays tabloid mainstream media... this would not be pretty).


    To Lose? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 09:17:49 AM EST
    Tons more publicity. I think people are much more put off by someone lying about not being than someone being gay. He will wind up being a human piñata. Best for him to call it a day and put it behind.

    Sure there'd be tons more publicity (none / 0) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 09:23:59 AM EST
    but could any of it make people think worse about him  than they already do? Even if we assume (naively) everyone  thinks worse about lying than squalid bathroom sex, he's already lied about his conduct if that isn't what was involved.

      If he could have succeeded in avoiding any publicity that would have been one thing, but can it really get any worse now?


    Yes (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 09:33:59 AM EST
    He would no doubt reach internaltional fame. Since I am internet only I do not know how much the MSM is on this story. But a trial would spread his story far and wide. Not to mention prolonging his and his loved ones agony by staying in the ring.

    What does he have to gain? Even if he wins, the underlying lie of not being gay is his real problem.


    He doesn't have much to gain (none / 0) (#7)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 09:44:19 AM EST
     in all likelihood, but with NOTHING to lose the calculus can still favor a a small chance at little gain.

      Put yourself in his shoes. He understands, one presumes, that now that the story has broken, the vast majority of people interpret his guilty plea as a confession of guilt not only to disorderly conduct but to attempting to have sex with a same sex stranger in a public bathroom.

      It simply does not get worse than that to someone who we can guess has both a public image and a self image (even if a delusional one) at stake.

       If he were to succeed in being allowed to withdraw his plea and stand trial-- despite the mountain of bad publicity-- he would have the possibility of stating afterward -- see it really wasn't what you thought" Even if very few OTHER people believe that it might mean a lot for him as a person to be able to think  he has repaired his image.


    Trial wouldn't help him (none / 0) (#8)
    by eric on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:06:34 AM EST
    The problem is that even if he were to be acquitted - something that I think is very unlikely - all of the evidence at trial would only exacerbate the entire situation.  The facts that would come out would be (at least) these:

    1. He visited a bathroom that is widely known and publicized as a good place to cruise for anonymous gay sex.

    2. In the opinion of the officer witnessing his conduct, Craig's conduct was consistent with conduct that the officer has seen before and is consistent with a man cruising for anonymous gay sex.  This officer apparently has experience and can testify about this.

    On top of this, the public is in possession of other information that is probably not admissible at trial:  the persistent rumours about Craig and the previous stories about Craig's bathroom encounters in D.C.

    No matter what a jury says, all of this information almost certainly is enough for the public at large to find him guilty.  In fact, judging by what we are hearing - the the public already has.

    A trial would do him no good.  It would only hurt him more politically, and if convicted, he would be spending some time in the workhouse here in MN.


    He's pretty much dead (none / 0) (#9)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:20:31 AM EST
    politically anyway. All of the things you say would come out have already come out.

      He would be very likely to be acquitted and even if not would be very unlikely to be sentenced to do time.

      The evidence such as it is that Craig quietly and discretely engaged in certain vague,  totally non-obscene interaction  with a person who WAS INTENTIONALLY INVITING  such interaction. It would be extremely unreasonable to say that Craig would have reasonably belived THAT PERSON would be offended, alarmed or whatever else by the interaction because the cop's own sworn affidavit makes it clear that his sole purpose was to have such interaction. There is no evidence that anyone else present was in any way aware of the interaction between Craig and the cop prior to the bust  so they could not be offended, etc.

      I don't know the facts of the cases TChris lost but if they were remotely similar to this and he lost 11 of 12-- there's a HUGE problem somewhere.


    Still, what is to be gained? (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by eric on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:38:47 AM EST
    If he's dead politically, what does he have to gain?  He practically got a walk on this.  Letting him plead to a disorderly with a fine was a good deal for him considering he was also charged with a gross misdemeanor peeping.

    Assume you get a jury to acquit him because you convince them that the elements don't match-up (good luck).  And he walks, what is to be gained?  He is still not in jail.  He saves a few bucks on the fine (but paid a lawyer) and can brag that he is "not-guilty" - but the public already thinks that he is.


    More Like (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:31:48 AM EST
    The Emporers New Clothes being extended for an extra six weeks. I guess if he is in such denial already a win would help support his alternate reality. The public will continue their laughfest but he is obviously oblivious by now.

    Yes, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:48:00 AM EST
      for once you get the point.

      The only downside to starting a belated fight now is the number of times the same people will laugh at him or condemn him. Many people might just say just hurry up with the burial and forget about me. He did not appear to be one of those yesterday.

      By engaging counsel and stating he is going to fight, he can persist in his denial (in all senses of the word). Most likely, he won't be able to withdraw his plea and will then complain he never got "his day in court" (although most would reasonably say he had his day and entered a guilty plea on that day and was treated fairly ). To paraphrase George Costanza, it's  not if you believe it. And, strange as it may seem, some people refuse to believe bad things about people no matter how obvious they appear if the person denies it and they like the person. The support of those few people might mean a lot to someone whose whole life is about seeking approval.

      I will repeat, the case against him appears extremely weak to me and he'd have an extremely good chance that a jury would not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he violated any statute.



    Get The Point? (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:56:47 AM EST
    You mean get your point. What an egomaniac, and a nasty one to boot.

    I've tried a case or 200 (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 09:14:14 AM EST
    in my day and while I am not familiar with that jurisdiction, I would think the chance of acquittal based on the cop's affidavit and the stautory elements would be extremely high with a fair trial and remotely capable lawyer.

     However, I suspect he already knows that a motion to withdraw the plea is very unlikely to be granted and doesn't really want a trial, but wants to be able to claim he "woulda, coulda, shoulda..."


    If the guilty plea record (none / 0) (#12)
    by magster on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 10:47:10 AM EST
    shows a voluntary and knowing waiver of rights, it's over.

    Craig also tried to intimidate the officer (none / 0) (#45)
    by Ellie on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:28:55 PM EST
    Sen. Craig showed the officer his business card and tried to get off -- in the legal sense not in the fun way -- because of his office.

    Reacting to his arrest by pulling rank ("Do you know who I am?!?) would eliminate any pretense of Sen. Craig being an wide eyed innocent lost in the wilds of the MinnyPaul airport bathrooms. It also obliterates any claim that he pled to protect his reputation.

    I'd add this attempt to pull rank to the yucky/icky pile harvested upstream: it's not the gay that makes it so but the unhesitant move to use intimidation.

    It's typical of sexual predators and harassers to use their superior standing in the community (or dominance at the workplace, school, etc.) as a power play on targets.

    What it suggests to me as well is that this isn't a man who's concerned with being found out so much as arrogantly expecting to get his way without resistance or question (and get away with getting his way.)

    The outrage he was showing at his press conference further suggests he's such an experienced, longtime offender. What's got his indignation up is that he's being questioned at all about this; he can't even see that his constituents want him to account for criminal -- not private but criminal -- behavior.


    This episode (none / 0) (#47)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:42:21 PM EST
    has a little something for just about  everyone. No matter what  particularly offends someone's sensibilities it probably can be identified at some point in the narrative-- and it's not even over yet. (though I think I hear the soprano warming up in the wings)

    Craig's trying to keep a lid on a volcano (none / 0) (#48)
    by Ellie on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:55:27 PM EST
    If he's been at this as long as his behavior and past investigations suggest, any minors or young adults he successfully intimidated in the past might find this a good time to come forward.

    As the old joke goes, he should have paid the two dollars.


    i think you hit it on the head (none / 0) (#15)
    by ksh on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:04:32 AM EST
    he almost got away with it.....

    He's a Senator (none / 0) (#26)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:20:36 PM EST
    First, he should be brought before the ethics cmmtte.

    Second, his motion to withdraw "absent the benefit of counsel" will be granted by the court. Wouldn't happen for Jose Padilla (or Juan Padilla for that matter) but it will for him.

    Ethics cmmtte. will postpone review until court case is concluded.

    Trial will come and testimony will show he did nothing except ignite the perverted imaginings of a gay undercover cop's lurid imagination. He will still be convicted.

    Ethics cmmte. will move to censure and ask he give up his cmmte. assignments.

    GOP will have gone into meltdown , approval near 10%

    I say GO FOR IT!


    He's a creep (none / 0) (#16)
    by Pancho on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:21:54 AM EST
    Judges feel compelled to rid their communities of gay men trolling for anonymous sex in public bathrooms, as a "quality of life" crime.

    This IS a quality of life issue as I have had the hand under the stall thing happen to me and it is VERY creepy. I've had gay men hit on me in more reasonable ways and it is simple enough to say:" I don't go that way", so it is not about being homophobic.

    Yes (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:35:29 AM EST
    Life is tough when you have a hot a$$.

    Quality of Life (none / 0) (#18)
    by eric on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:44:20 AM EST
    I agree.  I am actually a little suprised at the level of naïveté about this issue.  Maybe I have just been in more public restrooms in the right places but this is a problem.  Have you people never been exposed to this?  In many cases, it ruins the public restroom for everyone else.

    For example, in some place, all the doors have been taken off of the stalls to prevent this.  In other places, public restrooms are just plain closed because of the problem.  Yes, I am in Minneapolis and maybe restroom cruising is more common here or something, but it isn't welcome.  Just try to find a public restroom ANYWHERE in Minneapolis.  They are all closed.  The businesses that do let you in put you on camera and/or have the stall doors removed.


    TPM has an insteresting letter (none / 0) (#20)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:55:16 AM EST
    which they reprinted on public bathrooms and gay sex which you might find interesting.


    Many Women (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:58:11 AM EST
    Have the same experience wherever they go from macho types. Not just in restrooms. I guess you can empathize.

    Some people, do like it though, as long as it doesn't cross the line.


    You sure that is the only reason? (none / 0) (#32)
    by 1980Ford on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:41:07 PM EST
    Maybe they don't want junkies overdosing in their stalls either. Ask any junkie and they will say they fixed in public bathrooms before.

    Could be a combination of both among other reasons, including doing everything a reasonable person would do to keep from being sued.


    Sorry Pancho, almost always (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:53:37 AM EST
    you can't say that anything about gays is creepy or yucky - like gays trolling for anonymous bathroom sex - and not be labeled a homophobe unless you are gay yourself.

    So far as I can tell, only ChicagoDyke is in that elite group.


    Really? (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:02:09 PM EST
    The yucky behavior you point out is hardly gay specific. In fact much more typical of hetero men.

    Trolling for anon hetero sex in bathrooms? (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:11:15 PM EST
    Really? But if you say so, that settles it for me.

    Obviously (none / 0) (#25)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:16:02 PM EST
    Not in same sex bathrooms. I assume that is just your requisite snark rather your lack of imagination.

    and yucky in my book. That specific activity is also mostly (only?) gay-oriented. I'm sorry that you can't understand the point.

    Obviously (none / 0) (#29)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:28:35 PM EST
    You are not a woman, and you must live in a cave. Is it that the just the bathroom is off limits in your book for getting a date?

    How about the office, the subway, or any public space for that matter? Probably all fine, by you as long as it is not an unwanted gay advance.

    Pretty much the republican platform.


    From My POV (none / 0) (#34)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:45:45 PM EST
    All unwanted sexual advances are yucky, be it in the bathroom or on the street, be it straight or otherwise.

    Assuming you are a male heterosexual, and were alone in a bathroom would you find it equally yucky if a very hot babe flashed you and asked you for a 'date'. I think not SUO.


    Yes, really (none / 0) (#33)
    by 1980Ford on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:45:36 PM EST
    See the article I linked to in response to ChicagoDyke. Craig is likely telling the truth when he says he is not gay.

    That's ridiculous. Say what you want (none / 0) (#46)
    by Ellie on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 05:38:05 PM EST
    Just don't expect your pronouncements to be greeeted with abject silence with or without a light smattering of applause.

    There's a good chance someone will challenge what you say.

    If you want to have the dialogue in your head (which you've apparently done, playing both parts), hell, ride with that but I'd suggest not posting fragments of this dialogue in public forums


    I was aware it exists (none / 0) (#22)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 11:58:38 AM EST
     but have never actually seen it. Around here, at least based on arrests,  it is usually restrooms at parks, rest stops, etc.

     It would not have occurred  to me that there was a possibility that a bathroom evidently centrally located  at a busy airport would be an assignation center. Wouldn't just the expensive parking and usually long walk from the car make it a poor choice?  I'd not have guessed enough travelers seeking encounters to make it worth the effort. I suppose it's possible it is traveler on traveler encounters but how in the world would people know to look in a particular rest room in a place that has so many?

    I would bet that (none / 0) (#38)
    by Pancho on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02:00:49 PM EST
    somewhere there are message boards advertising certain "hot spots", but I would expect that Craig was just passing through, changing planes.

    It was a hot spot (none / 0) (#41)
    by eric on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 03:56:10 PM EST
    This restroom was discussed as a cruising destination, according to the Minnesota Monitor:

    Squirt.org is a site that runs a bulletin board for such men. "If you enter from the terminal, turn left and go past wash basins, urinals to the back where the stalls are. This place is THE most cruisy public place I have been," wrote one poster. "Just passed thru here the other day. This place is so hot. This place has a constant flow and variety of hot guys," wrote another. Even another poster wrote, "This is the best spot for anonymous action I've ever seen." Of all the postings in Minnesota, the airport restroom was ranked the top by that website.



    wow (none / 0) (#42)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:07:13 PM EST
    ...just wow

      I don't think of myself as naive but a website named squirt.org ranking bathrooms for "cruisiness" takes the cake.


    I'm not clicking on that link; (none / 0) (#43)
    by Pancho on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:46:51 PM EST
    that won't look good on my company's web report..

    minnisotamonitor.com (none / 0) (#44)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 04:50:51 PM EST
    It seems to me ... (none / 0) (#28)
    by chemoelectric on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:26:01 PM EST
    ... that Senator Craig is behaving as if it were so important not to be labeled 'gay' that he will make his own bad publicity if necessary. Perhaps it doesn't bother him as much that he was arrested, but the guilty plea appears to be an admission of homosexuality.

    I would like to keep our Twin Cities airport the clean and nondescript place that it is, including the restrooms. Public restrooms are already creepy enough.

    Yeah, maybe (none / 0) (#35)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:45:49 PM EST
      the reason I've never seen this is unless there is no other  option and extreme urgency, I never do anything that requires sitting down in a public rest room. I'm neither a "germaphobe" or a "homophobe" but I'll usually choose to hold it if that is at all possible.

    Hetero Anon Sex (none / 0) (#31)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:32:01 PM EST
    Why is it the gays get all the fun?

    What is wrong with our country that women don't solicit men for anonymous sex?

    (I mean this in a snarky, why me? way).

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    Women (none / 0) (#36)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 12:50:26 PM EST
     generally  both have higher standards and consider sex more "meaningful" than men. It's hardly surprising that a universe with all men is more promiscuous. Gay or straight, most of us are slobs.

    Pardon (none / 0) (#37)
    by pixpixpix on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01:06:04 PM EST
    Craig should not worry. Bush will grant him a pardon since:

    1. He's not gay
    2. He has a distinguished record of public service
    3. Democrats are just dragging his name in the mud
    4. Sex between consenting adults is not illegal
    5. He is not gay
    6. Government shouldn't interfere in people's private lives
    7. The undercover cop was wearing a blue dress which is at the FBI crime lab
    8. He is not gay

    No way he gets a trial (none / 0) (#39)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02:19:39 PM EST
    By his own admission, he chose to plead guilty without talking to a lawyer because he didn't want it to get out in the press or to his family.  How is that possibly a basis for withdrawing a guilty plea?  Thousands of people plead guilty under a much greater amount of coercion than that--they are sitting in jail and, without the funds to post bail, can only get out by pleading guilty.  They don't get to withdraw their guilty pleas.  Neither will he.

    On the issue of a trial, if he had a jury trial, and he were an ordinary Joe, I think chances of acquittal would be good, actually.  When I worked in Dallas, we won a lot of these cases, and that is a very conservative county.  The behaviors described are vague enough that jurors can be reluctant to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.  Of course, a lot of the vice cops in Dallas were skeezy, and didn't often make good witnesses.  I'm not sure how his celebrity would affect the outcome, though.  One thing that I think would not play well against him at all would be the stuff about him essentially pulling the "I'm a U.S. Senator, buddy.  What do you think about that?" routine.  That, I think, would be pretty damaging.

    We should be so lucky.. (none / 0) (#40)
    by BlueAubie on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 02:25:23 PM EST
    A trial would be a godsend.  Go ahead, drag it out.  Make voters even more sick of this than they are today.  

    Our task is to keep it alive.  Remember Rove?  Huge, but then I was distracted by Gonzo.  And now I'm distracted from Gonzo by Craig.

    The media has a terribly short attention span.  Come to think of it, that's why media is the "news."

    No, I'm afraid the republicans aren't quite stupid enough to let this drag out.  It will be gone in a week or two if they play it right.  I predict a resignation without an admission of guilt (because he's too ashamed to be a man and confess).  He'll say it's too much negative pressure for his family, blah blah.

    Which brings me to another point, I'm more concerned about him being a liar that I am about what he did in a mens bathroom.  That's probably the way many Idaho voters feel also.  Everybody sees this for what it is.