Monday, September 17, 2007

Craig's Stall Attracts Tourists

When you are writing a blog about judicial corruption (and other assorted--and sordid--problems in our justice system), you have to take advantage of any opportunity you get to interject humor into the proceedings. Our subject here at Legal Schnauzer is not one that naturally lends itself to lots of chuckles.

So to lighten things up a bit, let's turn to our old friend Larry Craig. You remember Craig, the Republican U.S. senator from Idaho who was arrested for soliciting homosexual sex in a restroom at the Minneapolis airport. Craig pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and now is trying to have his plea withdrawn so he can fight the charge.

Well, it turns out that the bathroom stall where Craig was arrested has become a tourist attraction. People who work at the Minneapolis airport report they are regularly being asked for directions to the famous stall.

One man admitted to making at least two stops already to see the stall. Lots of folks take pictures, both inside and outside the restroom.

Reports have it that in order to take a photo of the stall, you have to adopt a "wide stance."

On a more serious note, the American Civil Liberties Union is standing up for Craig. The ACLU says that Craig's various gestures in the restroom amount to constitutionally protected free speech. And even if he did the foot tapping etc., his actions do not amount to a crime.

You've got to give the ACLU credit. I think it's safe to say that Larry Craig has not been a champion of the ACLU during his political career. But the ACLU, which a lot of conservatives like to trash in a kneejerk way, stands up for him while many of his political brethren bail on him.

And I think the ACLU is right. It seems pretty clear what Craig was up to. But if you read the account of what he did, and read the statute he was accused of violating, I don't think there is any way it adds up to a crime.

I'm not a law-enforcement professional by any means, but seems to me the police officer acted too hastily. If he had let things play out to the point that Craig specifically asked for a sex act there in the restroom, then the disorderly conduct charge would probably be legit. But as it is, I think Craig should be found not guilty--assuming he can get the guilty plea withdrawn.


Anonymous said...

I my wheelless youth I traveled around the South by bus I can recall how I would walk out of the bus stations looking restroom not inhabited by men like Lary Craig.
When I live in Atlanta I just aboyt had to quit using the public library due the creeps that roamed the book stacks. I refuse to defend that disgusting beahior of the Larrys of this country.

Another point I have not heard discussed is the conviction record of the undercover cop that busted larry Craig, I'm willing too bet that it is pretty good. I realy do nor agree with you on /Craigs chances of withdraw his plea and winning at trial.

Ilso think that folks like Craig enable crooked judges to be confirmed, Mark Fuller being a good example. That goes the same for the political procees that elects and re-elects judge like you have in Shelby Co.


legalschnauzer said...

Now that you mention it, Craig does remind me of some of the political hypocrites I've encountered in Shelby County.

But to be fair, and reading the Minnesota statute as its written, I don't see how he could be convicted on the disorderly conduct charge. By the way, here is Alabama's disorderly conduct statute:

I think Craig might be more vulnerable on the other charge. I forget the title of the statute, but it had something to do with privacy. That was dropped when Craig pleaded guilty on disorderly conduct.

If Craig is successful in withdrawing his guilty plea, I wonder if the prosecutors will seek to reinstate the privacy charge. You would think they could do that, and they might get Craig on that.