IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
No. 4-262 / 02-1454
Filed June 23, 2004
STATE OF IOWA,
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott Rosenberg,
Thorsheim appeals from the district court's denial of his application
for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.
Kenneth Weiland, Jr. of Weiland Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for
Kent Thorsheim, Des Moines, appellant pro se.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas Tauber, Assistant Attorney
General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and John Judisch, Assistant County
Attorney, for appellee.
Considered by Sackett, C.J., Huitink, J., and Harris, S.J.*
*Senior judge assigned by order pursuant to Iowa Code section
Kent Thorsheim was convicted of one count of third-degree harassment
in violation of Iowa Code section 708.7(4) (2001). There were three
counts; he was acquitted of the other two and sentenced to a ten-day jail
term. He appealed to the district court where, on the State's motion, the
appeal was dismissed on procedural grounds. The supreme court denied
Thorsheim's application for discretionary review. Thorsheim then brought
the present application for postconviction relief, and has brought the
present appeal from a district court order rejecting his claim.
The assignments of error are wide ranging and all embracing. Even
though the case involves only a simple misdemeanor, and the supreme court
denied discretionary review, this matter is of obvious importance to
Thorsheim. Each of his contentions deserves and has had our careful
attention. Each does not, however, deserve a written analysis in a formal
opinion. We find merit in none of the assignments and therefore affirm.
Attorney Marla Suddreth had been appointed to represent Thorsheim in
a prior postconviction proceeding. Friction developed in the relationship
because Thorsheim had strong feelings and specific notions concerning the
strategy to be employed by Suddreth. He was highly suspicious of the level
of her commitment to his cause. On the day in question, Thorsheim made
three phone calls to Suddreth's office, the first of which was the basis
for his conviction. Thorsheim spoke with Suddreth's secretary, telling her
that "Marla had better win the case" and, that if she didn't, he "was
taking matters into [his] own hands, and she can take that as a personal f-
ing threat." He also stated he would turn her into the bar and she would
not have a career left. Thorsheim's version of his remarks differs
somewhat, but we of course accept the secretary's version on appeal. Two
later calls were grounds for the counts for which Thorsheim was acquitted.
Thorsheim admits making the later calls and, even under his version, they
reflected anger and extreme hostility.
Thorsheim's remarks qualified as harassment. He himself labeled them
as a threat. State v. Button, 622 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Iowa 2001); State v.
McGuinnes, 243 N.W.2d 583, 588-89 (Iowa 1976). Both Suddreth and her
secretary took the remarks as threats of future violence and were
understandably frightened and upset by the language. Contrary to
Thorsheim's contention, the language qualified as "fighting words" that
were not protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States
Constitution. Button, 622 N.W.2d at 485. We also reject Thorsheim's
contention that his remarks had a legitimate purpose, that is, to
communicate a criticism to his lawyer. Threats of violence have no
legitimate purpose. Button, 622 N.W.2d 485-86.
We have considered and rejected Thorsheim's arguments that he
received ineffective assistance of counsel. Without listing his specific
complaints, we find that he has failed to show either that his counsel's
representation was inadequate or that he was prejudiced thereby. Both were
of course required for him to prevail. Ledezma v. State, 626 N.W.2d 134,
141 (Iowa 2001).
Huitink, J., and Harris, S.J., concur; Sackett, C.J., concurs
specially without opinion.