Blades: Ruling will come before Craig leaves Senate

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Tom Dempsey

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Sep 10, 2008, 2:49:40 PM9/10/08
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Ruling will come before Craig leaves Senate
ST. PAUL (AP) | Sep 10, 12:40 PM

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, seeking to wipe away an embarrassing criminal conviction in an airport men's room sex sting, put his hope Wednesday in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

An attorney for the retiring Republican argued that he should be able to withdraw a misdemeanor disorderly conduct plea he quietly entered last year following an arrest during a flight layover. The attorney, Billy Martin, told the three-judge panel that Craig's behavior was "as consistent with innocence as it is with guilt."

The appeals court has 90 days to issue a ruling, which means it will come before Craig leaves the Senate. After initially saying he would resign after the incident became public, Craig decided to remain in the Senate until his term ends this January.

A district court judge refused to invalidate the plea last year, prompting the appeal.

Craig didn't appear at the St. Paul court building where oral arguments were held, and the only time his name was mentioned was when the lead judge announced the case.

On the senator's behalf, Martin described the encounter in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom in which Craig first stood outside an occupied stall and then made allegedly suggestive motions from an adjacent stall.

Martin refuted the conclusions of an undercover police officer conducting a sting of men cruising for gay sex. The officer said Craig peered inside his stall, tapped a foot next to his and swiped a hand beneath the divider -- all perceived invitations for a sexual encounter.

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http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=20930

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