Dear Sen. Craig:
I understand you're trying to withdraw the guilty plea that you entered in Minneapolis. You know, the one wherein you admitted that you had inappropriately moved your foot under the partition of the guy sitting next to you (more than once, I might add). I understand that you think you should be able to take your case to trial, because, hey, the guilty plea was somehow legally defective.
Okay, I'm no lawyer, but --
Oh wait, I am a lawyer.
First things first: Withdrawing a guilty plea is very very difficult. If the trial judge is worth anything at all, he walked you through a big long colloquy in open court wherein he asked you a very very long series of questions designed to elicit whether you were absolutely, positively, super-de-duper sure that you were okay with waiving the large numbers of constitutional guarantees our criminal justice system offers. You were probably asked, possibly more than once, whether you knew you had a right to a trial by jury, that you had a right to confront witnesses against you, to have counsel appointed for you, etc. etc. You were then asked whether you were ready to waive all those rights. You were asked whether you knowingly and voluntarily and of your own free will waived those rights. And you affirmed each and every time that you knew you had those rights, and that you were willing to waive them.
Dude, judges usually have a script in front of them for when they accept guilty pleas. Judges don't frequently mess up guilty pleas for this very reason.
So, uh, good luck with that.
But I'm more curious about the next step after that. You want to withdraw your guilty plea. If -- if -- you succeed, what do you think will be the next step for you? I'm sure you've thought this through, or if not, your lawyer has told you this: the next step would be that you get to go to trial before a jury of your peers.
It's unlikely that you can get the charges reinstated for the purpose of legally challenging the sting in the first instance, or that you were read your Miranda rights.
The sting was clean: even if you think it wasn't, it's unlikely that the judge will be able to conclude on his own that it was dirty. It would be a swearing contest between you and the cop; that means sitting in front of a jury who will decide just what the facts surrounding your arrest were.
And the Miranda issue? First of all, there's a tape recording of the arresting officer reading you your Miranda rights. But even if you wanted to try to claim you were not told your rights again later, what harm would that entail? It would mean any statements you made during the non-Miranda interview session would be inadmissible. But don't look now, your first post-arrest interview contains some pretty damaging admissions standing all on its own.
So, where does that get us: you'll end up in front of a jury of your peers. You're going to ask a jury of your peers to decide whether or not you were engaged in inappropriate conduct. When you ran your hand under the partition. When you scooted your foot over toward that of your stall-neighbor.
Let me tell you this: no man who has ever used a public restroom will ever buy that you just have a "wide stance." We all know that's not appropriate. We all know it's kind of icky. And once the officer testifies that tapping your foot is what people who want stall sex do... well, you're toast.
So seriously, dude... what are you thinking?
Uh, good luck.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Dear Sen. Craig: