This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






State of Minnesota,





Kevin Virgil Hedtke,



Filed April 13, 2004

Crippen, Judge


Carver County District Court

File No. K8-02-2081


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Michael A. Fahey, Carver County Attorney, Martha E. Mattheis, Assistant County Attorney, Carver County Justice Center, 600 East Fourth Street, Chaska, MN (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            On appeal from conviction for harassment and violation of a harassment restraining order, appellant Kevin Hedtke argues that (1) evidence that he mailed documents to the friends and relatives of the victim, but not to the victim, is insufficient to prove felony harassment; (2) the evidence otherwise is insufficient to show that he violated the harassment restraining order; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing a police officer to testify that he considered the packages appellant mailed to be a violation of the restraining order.  These contentions having no merit, we affirm.


            In August 2000 Darlene Parpart sought and received a harassment restraining order precluding appellant from having contact with Parpart and her children.  Subsequently, appellant mailed various documents to Parpart’s relatives and friends, and they either gave Parpart the documents or mentioned to her that they had received them.  Parpart gave the documents she collected to a deputy sheriff and appellant was charged with harassment.  On the day of trial, the court allowed the state to amend the complaint to include a charge of violating a harassment restraining order.  At trial and over appellant’s objection, the trial court allowed the state to elicit testimony from a deputy sheriff that he (the deputy) thought appellant’s conduct violated the no-contact order.  A jury subsequently found appellant guilty of both harassment and violation of a harassment restraining order.


The jury found appellant guilty of felony harassment under Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subds. 2(a)(6), 4 (2000 & Supp. 2001), for “repeatedly mailing” letters and packages.  It also found appellant guilty of the felony of violating a harassment restraining order, apparently under Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 6(d)(1) (2000).[1]


Appellant argues that his conduct did not constitute harassment because he did not repeatedly mail anything to Parpart or prompt anyone else to communicate with Parpart.  This argument assumes that the statute requires conduct that directly harasses the victim.  Statutory interpretation is a legal question that is reviewed de novo, and it requires this court to give effect to the legislature’s intent in enacting the statute, to assume that the best way to determine legislative intent is to rely on the plain meaning of the statute, and to look beyond the plain meaning of a statute “only if the text is ambiguous.”  State v. Iverson, 664 N.W.2d 346, 351 (Minn. 2003). 

Under Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(a)(6), a person can be convicted of harassment if the person “harasses” another by “repeatedly mail[ing] or deliver[ing] or caus[ing] the delivery by any means, including electronically, of letters, telegrams, messages, packages, or other objects[.]”  “Harass” is defined as engaging in intentional conduct which:

(1)  the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated; and


            (2)  causes this reaction on the part of the victim.


Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 1.  The plain meaning of neither Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 2(a)(6), regarding multiple mailings, nor Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 1, defining “harassment,” requires that materials be sent directly to the victim.  This reading of the statute is consistent with case law.  See State v. Richardson, 633 N.W.2d 879, 886-87 (Minn. App. 2001) (affirming, in multiple-victim case involving pattern-of-harassing-conduct provision of Minn. Stat. § 609.749, conviction for harassing a victim to whom a single postcard was sent, when multiple postcards were sent to other members of same household).  There is no merit in appellant’s argument that sending the materials to persons other than Parpart means that he did not harass her.


Appellant argues that the materials he sent were not “threatening.”  He admits sending copies of documents regarding various payment-on-death accounts that identify Parpart’s minor children as payees, IRA documentation naming the children as primary beneficiaries of appellant’s IRAs, and portions of appellant’s will naming the minor children as recipients of “special gifts” of real estate.  Appellant’s argument that these materials were not “threatening” is too narrow an argument.  Parpart testified that she was “scared” when she received phone calls from people stating they had received packages from appellant.  As a matter of common definitions, being “scared” satisfies the requirement in Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 1(2) that Parpart “feel frightened.”[2]  This feeling is consistent with the idea that appellant, while an order was in place forbidding him from contact with Parpart and her children, pointedly announced that he involved Parpart’s minor children in his estate planning.[3]  See State v. Egge, 611 N.W.2d 573 (Minn. App. 2000) (affirming conviction for violation of harassment restraining order where defendant applied for life insurance on person protected by order, causing insurance agent to contact person protected by order), review denied (Minn. Aug. 15, 2000).


Citing an unpublished opinion and stating that he did not contact or intend to initiate contact with Parpart, appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for violating a restraining order.  Unpublished opinions are of limited value in deciding an appeal.  See Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3(c) (2002) (stating “[u]npublished opinions of the court of appeals are not precedential”); Dynamic Air, Inc. v. Bloch, 502 N.W.2d 796, 800-01 (Minn. App. 1993) (stating dangers of mis-citation and unfairness associated with use of unpublished opinions and that while persuasive, “[t]he legislature has unequivocally provided that unpublished opinions are not precedential”).  Additionally, the restraining order forbids appellant from either “direct or indirect” “contact” with Parpart and her children, and from “harass[ing] them.”  Because we reject appellant’s argument that conviction for harassment required direct contact, appellant’s “indirect” contact through mailings to others necessarily violated the restraining order. 


            Appellant argues that the trial court should not have allowed the deputy to testify that he thought appellant’s conduct violated the no-contact order.  But this contention is posed solely on appellant’s argument that the testimony usurped the jury’s function in deciding whether appellant violated the no-contact prong of the restraining order by mailing the various items.  Because we affirm the determination that appellant engaged in harassment, and hence violated the no-harassment prong of the restraining order, the restraining order was violated and we need not address appellant’s contention that the no-contact prong of the order was not violated. 


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] Because of a poor record regarding the original and amended charges against appellant, as well as the erroneous citation of the provisions under which appellant was charged, the charging-related details of what happened in the district court are not entirely clear.  Consistent with the issues briefed by the parties, we assume that appellant was found guilty and convicted of, as well as sentenced for, both felony harassment and felony violation of a harassment restraining order.


[2] To the extent appellant argues that he did not know or have reason to know that Parpart would, as is required by Minn. Stat. § 609.749, subd. 1(1), be frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated by the materials he sent, her efforts in obtaining a no-contact order and its extension should have indicated to appellant that any interest on his part in Parpart or her children was unwanted and deemed threatening or offensive.


[3] Without specifically arguing that his First Amendment rights have been violated, appellant argues that a statute prohibiting what he alleges is “expressive activity[,] . . . could run afoul of the First Amendment.”  The only authority appellant cites to support his assertion is State v. Machholz, 574 N.W.2d 415 (Minn. 1998).  Machholz states, among other things, that “[i]f the First Amendment is not implicated, then we need go no further because no constitutional question is raised.”  Id. at 419.  Absent an allegation that the First Amendment was violated, we decline to address the constitutional aspects of the statute.