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Forum staff reports, Published May 06 2013

Appeals court upholds Hawley man's disorderly conduct conviction

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a Hawley man who appealed his disorderly conduct conviction for yelling, swearing at county deputies, and kicking the doors of the Clay County court-house, on the grounds that it was protected speech under First Amendment law.

Duane Hansen, 60, was sentenced to serve six days in July 2012 after a judge convicted him on a single count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct stem-ming from an Aug. 26, 2011, incident in which Hansen became obstreperous with a county employee after she was unable to get the phone number of a county commissioner for him.

In the unpublished appeals court opinion, Judge Natalie Hudson wrote that the employee said she “was glad that there was a counter between us” and that the employee would have been concerned for her safety if she had been working alone.

Deputies were called to remove Hansen from the building, upon which he swore at them and kicked the front door.

Hudson, who with Judges Terri Stoneburner and Carol Hooten heard the case, wrote in the opinion that Hansen’s language and conduct fell outside First Amendment protection because the disorderly manner of delivering that speech disrupted the county offices, which falls outside First Amendment protection.

Timothy Dodd, Hansen’s attorney, said he had not yet read the opinion, but that he was likely to sit down with his client and determine their next course of action, adding, “I’m sure he’s just as dis-appointed as I am.”