A Minnesota appeals court ruled today not to allow U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of disorderly conduct at an airport restroom.
Craig initially pleaded guilty to the charge after being arrested by an undercover police officer for solicitation.
After the case became public, however, Craig changed his mind and asked that his guilty plea (which he was allowed to mail to the court) be withdrawn. But the District Court judge denied the request and Craig appealed, claiming that the Minnesota law violated his freedom of expression.
The court replied today that, "…foot-tapping and the movement of his foot toward the undercover officer’s stall are considered speech, they would be intrusive speech directed at a captive audience and the government may prohibit them.”
The court also dismissed Craig’s appeal that the court should have allowed him to change his mind.
“Appellant has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in denying his petition to withdraw his guilty plea,” the court ruled.
“I am extremely disappointed by the action of the Minnesota Court of Appeals,” Craig said in a statement. “I disagree with their conclusion and remain steadfast in my belief that nothing criminal or improper occurred at the Minneapolis airport.”
Craig now has the option of appealing the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
“I maintain my innocence, and currently my attorneys and I are reviewing the decision and looking into the possibility of appealing,” Craig said.