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Eye On Boise

Craig presses forward with Minnesota case

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig has taking the next step in pressing forward with his appeal in Minnesota, where he’s seeking to take back his guilty plea to disorderly conduct charges in a restroom sex-solicitation sting. Craig today filed his “Statement of the Case,” a document briefly outlining why he’s appealing. That will be followed up by legal briefs giving the full arguments, which are due within a month and a half. The statement of the case, said court spokesman Kyle Christopherson, “sort of very briefly summarizes why they’re filing what they’re filing, so the details will come in the brief.”

The statement says it’s Craig’s position “that the plea was not supported by the evidence.” The district judge found otherwise. Craig’s attorneys note in the statement that they also plan to argue the plea should be thrown out on a technicality, “because it was not accepted by the sentencing judge,” an argument that District Judge Charles Porter also dismissed.

Further, they take note of the ACLU of Minnesota’s “friend of the court” brief, in which the organization argued that the entire lewd conduct sting in the Minneapolis airport men’s room was unconstitutional, and that the state’s disorderly conduct statute is overly broad. The airport bathroom undercover investigation ensnared 40 men in a four-month period, including Craig. “As applied to the facts of this case, the disorderly conduct statute becomes unconstitutional,” Craig’s lawyers wrote in today’s statement. “Accordingly, it is a manifest injustice not to allow the plea to be withdrawn.” Again, that argument was taken up by Judge Porter in his detailed, 27-page decision on Craig’s first attempt to withdraw his guilty plea, and dismissed. The judge wrote that the ACLU’s arguments were “inapplicable” to the facts of Craig’s case, said Minnesota’s disorderly conduct statute has been “upheld as constitutionally valid,” and called the law “necessary to preserve order in a civilized society.”

Craig also requested that oral arguments be scheduled in St. Paul, Minn., and declined to order a copy of the transcripts from the district court hearing to be provided to the Court of Appeals. That means the 60-day time clock for Craig to submit his full legal arguments in formal briefs starts from Oct. 15, the day he filed his notice of appeal, rather than from the date the transcripts arrive at the higher court.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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