His day in court is the 26th of September. That's tomorrow. Consider this an open thread to speculate as to what will happen, if you're as interested in this case as I am.
You can read Craig's motion to retract his plea agreement here. You can read the prosecution's response here. Supplemental documents submitted by the prosecutor are here.
There are a few interesting things going on here. First, in the motion filed by the defense, the argument outlined by Jeralyn at TalkLeft earlier is barely mentioned (that Craig wasn't advised of his right to counsel by the court on the form used to file the guilty plea, which is required by Minnesota law). The defense raises it to show that there was a different "manifest injustice", specifically that the plea was not made knowingly and understandably because Craig did not have an opportunity to have the plea agreement explained in open court. Instead of the wording of the agreement being on its face insufficient according to state law, the defense simply says that it's part of a different manifest injustice of not having a judge explain the full consequences of the plea to him and the rights he's accorded with.
But the issue of the plea form is raised, and barely responded to by the prosecutor, who says that talked to Craig on the phone about the whole thing and told him he should get a lawyer. The case that the prosecutor attached to his memorandum says (last page of the third link above):
The postconviction court observed that respondent was unrepresented at the plea hearing and not informed of his possible self-defense claim. Minn. R.Crim. P. 15.02 governs the acceptance of misdemeanor pleas. The rule does not require the court to advise defendants of their possible defenses, but it does require the court to inform the defendants of their right to assistance of counsel. Defendants must make a knowing and intelligent waiver of their right to counsel on the record. State v. Nordstrom, 331 N.Q.2d 901, 904 (Minn.1983).
Second, it's the Court's job, not the prosecutor's, to advise Craig of his right to counsel. That the prosecutor suggested to Craig he seek legal advice or that Craig indicated in the plea agreement that he is proceeding without counsel is not the same thing as being advised that he has a right to counsel and waiving it. Even the case Renz attached to his memorandum on a different issue says so (see page 3.) But, since Craig's lawyers didn't raise the failure of the mail-in plea document to advise him of his right to counsel, it's a non-issue.
She decides that the mention of the rule and the violation that the defense gives is just not enough to make that argument. I'd have to say that the defense does a pretty good job of outlining all the places where a lawyer would have helped Craig make better decisions that would have ultimately ended with him walking away without any punishment (like challenging the fact that statements made before he was read his Miranda rights were used against him, specifically his "No!" in the stall, and the cop's implication that a guilty plea would keep this out of the public eye), but I don't know if that allows the defense to "go there" in court tomorrow as a separate violation. Everything they need to make the argument that it's a manifest injustice on its own is right there in the motion.
In fact, the prosecutor's response goes into some length about how the mail-in plea deal outlined the rights Criag knew he was signing away in paragraph 9 and uses it to justify the other charges of manifest injustice made by the defense. If that paragraph is so important, even to the prosecution, in showing that the rights Craig waived were waived intelligently and understandably, then wouldn't the fact that the biggest one was omitted from the document prove that there was a manifest injustice? (Real lawyers, not fake ones like me, can tell me if/that I'm wrong there in the comments.)
The defense is also saying that there's not enough evidence to support the guilty plea, and that there's substantial case law in Minnesota to allow him to withdraw if the evidence doesn't support the plea. They argue that since disorderly conduct doesn't include annoyances or hand gestures, the police report isn't enough evidence to meet the burden of "disorderly conduct". They even cite a case where a Jehovah's Witness went into an apartment building, knocked on doors, and handed out literature, even after being asked not to by the building manager, and still the court found that it was not "disorderly conduct" under Minnesota law.
Renz replies that the conduct was disorderly because touching another person can "tend to arouse anger", which is one of the standards for deeming conduct "disorderly." Although, on a personal level, I'd have to disagree here, since I doubt if someone tapped his shoes in the next stall to me that I'd get mad. And if I gave a motion for him to touch my foot, then I wouldn't be mad that he did so either. And if he waved his hands under the stall divider, I don't think I'd even notice. More importantly, I don't think I'd be in the stall as long as Karsnia was to see all of this happening.
Overall, though, this is still an uphill battle and it's not likely that he'll get to withdraw, in my opinion.
Now, when it comes to his job in the Senate, we all remember how he said that he didn't say that he'd resign on the 30th of September, but that he was merely expressing his intention to resign, and that intention can change and will change if he gets the plea withdrawn. I wonder what people will think about this man staying in Congress, specifically the Senate GOP leadership. Mitch McConnell threw him under the proverbial bus here, stripping him of his committee assignments and saying that he thought resignation was a good idea. It's doubtful that he'll stay and become the first openly gay Senator after this experience and coming out.
At least, if the prosecutor is correct in saying that withdrawing his plea agreement would get a whole bunch of other people similarly prosecuted to withdraw theirs (do we need any more proof that these people are railroaded by the prosecution into pleading guilty?), then maybe he'd have started a movement and raised some awareness in the powers-that-be about the real intent of these sting operations.
The NY Times's Frank Rich argued against such sting operations yesterday and asked for us all to pardon Larry Craig. And the editorial board of the Washington Post said that they want him to be able to withdraw his plea, even though they think it's unlikely, because the Craig case outlines exactly what prosecutors are banking on to get these pleas for cases they know can't stand: humiliation and homophobia. And, as Sean pointed out, the ACLU released one of the boldest statements on the Constitutionality of these sorts of stings they ever have, in the form of a friend of court brief in the Craig case.
Well, if that isn't awareness building, then I don't know what is.