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State v. Rund

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 7, 2017

State of Minnesota, Appellant,
v.
Harrison William Rund, Respondent.

         Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Jennifer S. Bovitz, Kathryn M. Keena, Assistant County Attorneys, Hastings, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Steven T. Grimshaw, Grimshaw Law, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Basil El-Ghazzawy, El-Ghazzawy Law Offices, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         1. The reasons given by the district court for the downward durational sentencing departure in this case, which involved a conviction of terroristic threats, were improper.

         2. The record contains insufficient evidence to justify a downward durational departure on the alternative grounds of remorse and the social media context of the terroristic threats.

         Reversed and remanded.

          OPINION

          CHUTICH, Justice.

         Respondent Harrison William Rund pleaded guilty to terroristic threats in connection with a series of threatening tweets directed at law enforcement officers. The district court granted Rund's motion for a downward durational sentencing departure. A divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed the departure.[1] Appellant State of Minnesota filed a petition for review, which we granted. Because the district court based the departure on improper reasons and the record contains insufficient evidence to justify the departure on alternative grounds, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals, vacate Rund's sentence, and remand to the district court for imposition of a presumptive sentence.

         FACTS

         Around 1:00 a.m. on February 4, 2014, a Minnesota State Trooper stopped a vehicle driven by Rund. It was not the first time that the particular trooper had stopped Rund. During the stop, Rund and the trooper "had a disagreement." Ultimately, the trooper searched the trunk of Rund's vehicle, where he found marijuana that was later seized.

         After the stop, Rund went home, began drinking, and messaged with friends on Twitter.[2] Rund posted five threatening tweets:

• @StPaulPoliceFdn[3] dude its f*cked up im getting so pissed out here literally thinkin about just startin to hunt and kill cops
• @sppdPIO[4] f*ck you st paul police im gonna kill 5 police officers today
• @StPaulPoliceFdn im lookin for [Z.] boi and whichever trooper pulled me over lastnight gave me a ticket for goin 68 in a 60
• f*ck the @StPaulPoliceFdn they don't call me the cop killer for no reason
• throw a grenade in the room, watch all you coppers kaboom

         The tweet that referred to the use of a grenade was posted along with a photograph of a group of St. Paul police officers. Rund had previously posted a photograph on his Facebook page in which it appeared that he was holding a silver revolver.[5]

         Law enforcement officers became aware of Rund's tweets the following morning, and they arrested Rund at his home at 6:30 p.m. that evening. When arrested, Rund stated that he "tweeted some things he should not have because he had a bad experience with a police officer the night before." The next day, February 5, Rund made a recorded statement, admitting to posting the tweets.

         The State charged Rund with one count of terroristic threats, Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (2016). Section 609.713 prohibits a person from "threaten[ing], directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another . . ., ...


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