Former Nisswa mayor seeks case dismissal; obstruction charge dropped
“... the State continues to proceed footloose and fancy free without a nary of care or concern or candor with what they file as clearly seen in their 12/28/2020 horror show that didn’t even get the county the crime was allegedly committed correct,” Fred Heidmann stated in his court document.
With a charge of obstruction of the legal process dismissed, former Nisswa Mayor Fred Heidmann is now arguing he should also be cleared of a final charge of disorderly conduct.
The case against the former mayor stems from a profanity-laced tirade Aug. 29 against two police officers conducting a traffic stop of a third party along Highway 371, south of Nisswa. Nisswa and Pequot Lakes police officers were in the midst of conducting a Toward Zero Deaths traffic stop unrelated to Heidmann, which resulted in the mayor cited for two misdemeanors — obstruction of the legal process and disorderly conduct.
The charge of obstruction of the legal process was dismissed in December. Citing several errors made in the charging documents, Heidmann also is seeking to have the disorderly conduct case dismissed.
The Aug. 29 incident started when Heidmann, who was at his business along Highway 371, began videotaping the traffic stop and then walked across the four-lane highway toward the vehicle that was pulled over. According to police reports, Heidmann was advised he could videotape the incident but was told to stand back away from the highway to be safe. Heidmann asked what the officers were doing and why they stopped the vehicle and words were exchanged.
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During the incident, Heidmann made statements to officers such as, “You guys are just as bad as the cops in Minneapolis,” “I’m the mayor of this (expletive) town” and “You guys are (expletive) (expletive),” according to police reports and dashcam video. Heidmann also told the officers they were not qualified to be patrolling the highway.
In a written statement after the incident, Heidmann said he saw the police activity while walking his dog and was concerned, so he began recording the incident. Heidmann said he stood there wondering what impression this made with the hundreds of vacationing families going by seeing what appeared to be tourists having their goods rifled through.
Heidmann also described Toward Zero Deaths enforcement as a trap set up in Nisswa. He stated he would fight the charges from the incident because he had a right to free speech and the traffic stop was over when his confrontation occurred. Heidmann went to the site two different times.
Following the incident, the Nisswa City Council asked Heidmann to resign, but he declined. He lost the November election by a wide margin and his term as mayor expired Dec. 31, 2020.
Heidmann, 61, filed a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss the complaint filed Jan. 26 against him in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd. Heidmann’s 15-page court document was filed Jan. 28.
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The citation for disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process was filed Sept. 2, 2020, with Crow Wing County District Court. The prosecution of Heidmann’s case was moved from Crow Wing County to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office due to a conflict of interest: John Ryan, the brother of County Attorney Don Ryan, is the man who defeated Heidmann on the ballot with 85% of the vote.
Assistant County Attorney Michael D. Hagley with St. Louis County is the state prosecutor of the case and Heidmann is representing himself.
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The state filed its initial discovery materials Dec. 7, which included police reports and squad and body camera videos from the incident. Heidmann appeared before a remote court Dec. 16, and at that time there was no formal complaint filed. At the hearing, Judge Charles Halverson gave the state two weeks to file a formal complaint against Heidmann.
According to a Dec. 29 letter written by Hagley to Judge Patricia Aanes, the state didn’t believe there was probable cause to prosecute Heidmann for obstruction of the legal process and dismissed the count in the interests of justice.
That leaves the disorderly conduct charge, which Heidmann is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 10 in front of Judge Christopher Strandlie.
Hagley wrote a letter to district court Jan. 21 addressing errors made in filing documents in the case. He stated as an attorney in St. Louis County, he does not have access to eCharging — the standard method of approving charging documents in Minnesota — for Crow Wing County and cannot sign complaints through eCharging on behalf of the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office.
Hagley consulted with Crow Wing County Court Administration and it was determined the best way for him to issue a charging document without eCharging was to manually prepare and sign a document.
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“Unfortunately, a number of errors occurred during this process,” Hagley wrote.
St. Louis County has a number of templates used for standard filings, but the template for charging documents hasn't been updated since eCharging became standard and predates the 2014 enactment of the Minnesota statute, the letter stated.
“This means the template does not include the now-required language of ‘I declare under penalty of perjury that everything I have stated in this document is true and correct’ before the Complainant’s signature,” Hagley stated. “In addition, the amended charging document was inadvertently filed with the Court before the necessary step of obtaining the Complainant’s signature.
“In acknowledgment of these errors, the State filed a new, amended complaint that complies with Minn. R. of Crim. P. 2 and Minn. Stat. 358.116.”
Heidmann’s argument for dismissal
Heidmann filed a motion with the court to dismiss the Jan. 26 amended complaint of disorderly conduct with prejudice; to order a hearing to show cause to the misconduct of the state; and to report it as required under the Code of Judicial Conduct Rule.
In Heidmann’s document, he pointed to errors made by the state that caused him to place his business on hold for multiple days, causing him hardships, money and emotional turmoil. Heidmann stated continued misconduct by the state, numerous judges and subsequent conflicts made the case ripe for appeal.
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In the memorandum, Heidmann stated the prosecution bungled the case in several areas, including listing the wrong jurisdiction, accidentally dismissing the case when the obstruction charges were dropped, reopened the case without proper notice, refiling amended complaints and other issues.
On Jan. 25, Heidmann asked the court to strike the Jan. 21 filing due to its untimeliness and what were described as continued fatal errors. The motion is yet to be heard, the court document stated.
“The complaint cannot possibly survive scrutiny and must be dismissed on the ground it fails to have a valid affidavit. Notwithstanding the gross untimeliness, three strikes you’re out.”
— Fred Heidmann
“On the same day, the State inexplicably filed ANOTHER ‘Amended Complaint’ without any correspondence, leave, motion, or any explanation to what is being ‘Amended.’ The ‘Amended Complaint’ remains with grave deficiencies,” Heidmann’s court document stated.
Heidmann went on to state that a third judge, Erik Askegaard, on Jan. 26 signed the complaint in “error, clearly due to the State’s lack of candor of the Dec. 26 order by Judge Halvorson.” He said the issues with the case are numerous, including the number of judges now involved who’ve offered conflicting orders. A fourth judge — Strandlie — would be tasked with straightening out what’s left by three other judges and the state’s misconduct, Heidmann stated.
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Heidmann stated despite numerous motions he made in an attempt to compel the state to read the Minnesota statute, “they instead continue to choose to harass the Defendant (Heidmann) with complaint after complaint after the Defendant corrects their errors with motion,” the court document stated.
Heidmann stated the probable cause statement must be made under oath before a judge, court administrator or notary public or signed under penalty of perjury. Heidmann stated the police officer did not properly sign the affidavit so it is inadmissible.
Heidmann stated with no affidavit, probable cause or formal complaint since Halvorson ordered the state to have one within two weeks — “This establishes yet another grave, fatal, irreconcilable, and prejudicial error,” he wrote. “The complaint cannot possibly survive scrutiny and must be dismissed on the ground it fails to have a valid affidavit. Notwithstanding the gross untimeliness, three strikes you’re out.”
Heidmann also argued the state is intentionally trying to ignore his prior motions by starting a new complaint. He stated if the state were to succeed he would not have the opportunity to file a reply, would be denied due process to be heard and would be in defiance of a court order.
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“The State is well aware that this was their intent,” Heidmann stated in the document. “... The State continues to proceed footloose and fancy free without a nary of care or concern or candor with what they file as clearly seen in their 12/28/2020 horror show that didn’t even get the county the crime was allegedly committed correct.”
Heidmann argued against the reasons given in the state’s letter about how the errors occurred.
“What difference does it make if he can e-sign or not? The State certainly has an ink pen to sign criminal complaints,” Heidmann’s court document stated. Heidmann goes on to state the prosecution was aware of the issue and the court should not allow them to have a redo.
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Heidmann stated these errors cost him copious amounts of time — at the expense of time that would have been spent on his business — drafting, serving and filing his motion to dismiss the case. Heidmann stated he spent $180 in service fees plus mailing costs over the state’s errors.
He also argued the amended complaint fails to identify a victim and fails to show he was displaying disorderly conduct behavior. Heidmann stated arguing with officers in a raised voice is not an adequate basis for disorderly conduct and shouting profanities at officers, “although unsavory, uncouth and vulgar, is protected speech under the 1st Amendment,” he stated.
JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.