Free Larry Craig
Poor Senator Craig. Because of what he describes as his "wide stance" in an airport bathroom he is arbitrarily arrested for disorderly conduct – according to his version. Of course, the police report could not be more clear. Craig engaged in an apparently very old and very traditional form of code, involving a "call and response" used by practitioners of anonymous bathroom sex. Now, I certainly don't think having any form of public bathroom sex should be legal. But, is invoking a subtle code merely seeking to get your rocks off something that needs to be an illegal offense? Hardly.
Minnesota defines disorderly conduct as:
Subdivision 1. Crime. Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:
(1) Engages in brawling or fighting; or
(2) Disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or
(3) Engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.
What if Sen. Craig had done the same thing in Little Rock National Airport ( or more likely in Fayettiville where he would find more like minded Republicans ). He engaged in a "wide stance" ( surely a catch phrase for years to come ) he tapped his foor. He ran his hands under the stall. And then, bam, he is arrested. In Arkansas, disorder conduct is defined as so:
I sincerely doubt anyone would be very alarmed or disturbed by a little foot tapping as Craig was alleged to do. If what he was did was illegal because it was "disturbing" an undercover officer, then horn honking must be a hanging offense in Minnesota.
§ 5-71-207. Disorderly conduct, defined; penalties
(a) A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct if, with the purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creating a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, he or she:
(6) Congregates with two (2) or more other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order to disperse of a law enforcement officer or other person engaged in enforcing or executing the law;
I don't think Craig's "mating calls" would fall under any of these categories. So Craig's actions don't fall under any of these offenses. Yes, he pled guilty anyway – I assume he thought he would keep it all more hush hush this way.
Now, he wants his day, I guess his second day, in court. Too bad. I don't know about Minnesota, but in Arkansas, if you are found guilty, or even plead guilty in district court, you can appeal to circuit court. District court would be like Little Rock traffic court or criminal court. In district court, no one can be sentenced to prison, only jail for up to a year. Likewise, there are no jury trials in district court in Arkansas. If you don't wait too long, you can have a complete new trial, and even demand a jury trial in Arkansas. If you do wait too long --- there is nothing you can do about it. Case over. Unless, perhaps, you are a Republican U.S. Senator – and then maybe you get special treatment. If Craig had engaged in his toe-tapping here in Arkansas, and had waited 30 days after entering a guilty plea – he would have no chance for an appeal. However, a judge court throw out the sentence, modify, or dismiss the entire case up to 90 days after the conviction, if he wanted to do so.
In my opinion, Craig should be given no less and no better treatment than anyone else who pleads guilty and then has regrets. It their law allows a new trial - give him one, if not - then it would be unjust to do so. If he does get a new trial -- I could see a fair and impartial prosecutor even throwing the case out. So in the end, as much as I hate to say it --- Larry Craig should not have been arrested. I could really care less if he is gay or straight -- so long as he is honest ( which he is not ) Still, its probably better if he leaves the Senate anyway -- how can he effectively represent his state if he has to answer crazy questions at every press conference - if he is not on any committees - and has basically been ostracized by his own party?