Court to Rehear Superbowl Threats Case


Kurt W. Havelock sent letters to news outlets threatening to massacre people attending the 2008 Super Bowl game in Arizona.  Now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will have 11-judges rexamine their 2010 decision to toss his conviction. 

Havelock went around the bend in 2008 after the Tempe City Council denied him a liquor license for a bar with a Halloween theme.  After mailing the letters he drove to the Phoenix stadium with a rifle and six magazines each loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition. But Havelock had a change of heart and went to the Tempe police station to turn himself in.  He was convicted of six counts of mailing threatening letters.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court previously reversed his conviction because it said mailed threats had to include the name of a “natural person” on the outside of the envelope.

But that “produces absurd results” Judge Susan Graber said in dissent last year.  On Monday a majority of the court voted to do a replay.  Now an 11-judge panel will reconsider what qualifies as “mailing threatening communications.”

 Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke called the 2010 reversal a “crabbed” interpretation of the law that would prevent conviction of people mailing threats by simply leaving the name of a person off the envelope, even if a threat is inside.

There is no mention in the case of whether his purchase of a rifle and ammunition and carrying them to a parking lot outside the stadium were legal.  He wasn’t charged with any firearms violations.

There is no date set for the 11 judges to decide the proper form to address threatening mail.

Case:  U.S. v. Havelock, No. 08-10472

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