April 26, 2018
The Improper Etiquette for Leaving Voicemails for Judges
Nothing published by the MN Supreme Court and Court of Appeals so we are going to dive into unpublished cases. This one involves leaving voicemails for Judges. It is probably a bad idea to leave a voicemail for a Judge in general, but it is a really bad idea to do what Mr. Ivers did.
In early 2016, appellant Robert Phillip Ivers called a Hennepin County judge’s chambers to inquire about a case. D.J., the judge’s law clerk, answered the phone and told Ivers that his case had been dismissed. Which is a good thing. Ivers called again and asked to speak to the judge. D.J. answered again and told Ivers that attorneys and parties were not allowed to speak directly to the judge, but offered to relay a message. Ivers decided to leave a few voicemails. The judge never listened to the voicemail but D.J. did. DJ relayed the messages to the Sheriff’s Department and Ivers got charged with making Terroristic Threats. A couple of years ago we blogged about a woman trying to get a call back from social services by leaving threatening voicemails who was charged with the same crime. No one leaves voicemails anymore, just don’t do it.
Ivers’ voicemails were played for the jury during trial. One night he left four voicemails. Which is annoying to hear one and see that he is coming back for more. The judge was identified as the intended recipient of the first two messages in which Ivers accused the judge of failing to do his job, insulted the judge, and used a great deal of vulgarity. Specifically, Ivers called the judge “a dead f-ck,” and threatened to put a woman who opposed him in his case “on the stand and . . . tear her f-cking c-nt out.
Ivers left a series of 12 voicemail messages a second night containing a barrage of vulgarities, insults, and accusations. Ivers threatened to make the judge “feel some pain”; he warned that he was “coming for” another judge; he cautioned the judges to “be on guard”; he accused the judicial system of “rigging . . . f-cking court cases”; and he stated: “[T]he whole Hennepin County f-cking judicial system, you’re f-cking corrupt, you pieces of f-cking garbage. You’re corrupt. And . . . we’re coming after you, you pieces of f-cking trash.” Transcribed, Ivers’s openly hostile messages left by voicemail filled more than ten pages and included more than 125 uses of the expletive “f-ck” or some variation of it.
So a total of 16 messages with 125 uses of expletive “f-ck,” or a total of 7.8 f bombs per message. Again, Ivers got his case dismissed. So lord only knows what he would have said if his case wasn’t dismissed. So Ivers was convicted and he appealed the conviction for sufficiency of the evidence.
The statute he was convicted of Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(5) (2014).1 The state was required to prove that (1) Ivers made or caused the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring; (2) Ivers knew or had reason to know that this conduct would cause D.J., under the circumstances, to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated; and (3) Ivers caused this reaction on the part of D.J. See id., subds. 1, 2(5).
He argued that he never intended for D.J. to hear the messages because they were intended for the Judge. That doesn’t help. In State v. Hall, the COA stated that assessing whether the calls caused the victim to be frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted or intimidated required consideration of all the attributes of the calls. Id. at 858 (citing State v. Schweppe, 306 Minn. 395, 399, 237 N.W.2d 609, 613 (1975) (explaining that words must be considered within the context in which they were used to assess whether they were threatening)). The actor’s knowledge of the harassing nature of the calls could “be inferred from the content” of the messages, which were “personal, often vulgar, and contained veiled threats.” Hall, 887 N.W.2d at 858.
Ivers loses here. He says he called at night to leaved unobstructed messages. 12 of them. He also was vulgar to the whole “f-cking Hennepin County judicial system.” He should have called Ramsey County. So Ivers loses, and of course he does. This bears repeating but Ivers had his case dismissed. Just be happy it it is gone and send a poop emoji to the chambers. But leaving 16 messages with 125 f-bombs and threatening to launch a revolution against the whole judicial system from your couch is not the right play here. Ivers don’t threaten anyone, especially judges and DJ’s.