Category Legal Developments

ABC’s ’20/20′ episode: Four years later

On April 8, 2016, ABC’s “20/20” first broadcast “Footprints in the Snow” which focused on the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters were taken by their mother near their home on the night of April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.

In March 2o17, ABC aired an updated “Footprints in the Snow” with new information about the case and the program has been rebroadcast multiple times since 2016.  Today – nearly four years after the original broadcast – many of the individuals interviewed remain entangled in the case of the sisters who went missing and were later found by law enforcement. Continue reading

Friday: ABC’s ’20/20′ episode about Grazzini-Rucki

The riveting episode of ABC’s “20/20” discussed in the award-winning true crime book, The Girls Are Gone, will be broadcast tomorrow at 9 AM (CST) on Investigative Discovery.

The episode about Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, “Footprints in the Snow,” was first broadcast on April 8, 2016, and was later rebroadcast on March 25, 2017. The episode has since broadcast on multiple television networks over the last two years.

Grazzini-Rucki had tried to stop the rebroadcasts of the episode, which found no documentation to verify Grazzini-Rucki’s claim that she was abused by David Rucki. Grazzini-Rucki had taken to Facebook, calling the show “rank propaganda” and encouraging people to register complaints.

In April 2017, Grazzini-Rucki announced she would be filing a defamation lawsuit against ABC, Inc, ABC’s “20/20”, and Elizabeth Vargas, the co-anchor of “20/20”. Grazzini-Rucki claimed she would be seeking “an ungodly amount” of money in her latest lawsuit, but the lawsuit was never filed. Continue reading

Lawyers board: suspend MacDonald’s attorney for 6 months

A lawyer for the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board told the Minnesota Supreme Court today that Karlowba Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, should be suspended for 6 months for violating numerous rules governing licensed attorneys in Minnesota.

Binh Thanh Tuong, attorney for the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, said during today’s hearing that “every step that [Adams-Powell] took was an attempt to cover-up.”

Last September, a referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Adams Powell made numerous false statements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to cooperate with her supervised probation, and violated her probation and suspension orders.

State Senator Bobby Joe Champion (pictured above), who serves as Adams Powell’s attorney, said his client’s conduct did not harm the public but acknowledged she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to properly deposit funds, and failed to get a co-signature on a deposit/receipt.

Champion acknowledges Adam Powell’s “lapses in judgment” and offered a 60-day suspension.

This is the fourth disciplinary proceeding involving professional misconduct for Adams Powell. The Minnesota Supreme Court will make a determination within 60 days on the appropriate discipline for Adams Powell. Continue reading

Minnesota Supreme Court hears allegations against MacDonald’s attorney tomorrow

The Minnesota Supreme Court will have a hearing tomorrow on allegations that Karlowba Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, violated numerous rules governing licensed attorneys in Minnesota.

Last September, a referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Adams Powell made numerous false statements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to cooperate with her supervised probation, and violated her probation and suspension orders.

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility wants Adams Powell to be suspended from practicing law for 6 months. Adams Powell’s attorney, State Senator Bobby Joe Champion,  acknowledges her “lapses in judgment” and is offering a 60-day suspension.

This is the fourth disciplinary proceeding involving professional misconduct for Adams Powell.

Tomorrow’s hearing will be live-streamed by the Minnesota Supreme Court at 10 AMContinue reading

18-month investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The investigation by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility into alleged violations by Michelle MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys continues according to a letter from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

The investigation into the alleged violations by MacDonald was opened over 18 months ago after Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to MacDonald filing a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, which appeared to be in violation of an Order of the Minnesota Supreme Court which details the conditions by which MacDonald is allowed to practice law.

The lawsuit filed by MacDonald against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota was dismissed in March by a judge in Ramsey County. MacDonald is appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

MacDonald started her fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court last month. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016.  Continue reading

MacDonald begins fourth campaign for MN Supreme Court

UPDATE (4:04 PM, Friday, December 13, 2019) – This story has been updated to include confirmation from Justice Paul Thissen’s campaign that he will stand for election to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020. 

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Michelle MacDonald launched her candidacy today for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020, just hours after her attorney argued in court that she wasn’t a public figure because she wasn’t a candidate for public office.

During oral arguments at the Minnesota Court of Appeals MacDonald’s attorney, Karlowba R. Adams Powell, told the three judges who were hearing MacDonald’s appeal that since MacDonald was not a candidate for office, she was not a public figure.

But within hours after the hearing ended, MacDonald’s Twitter profile was updated to encourage people to “Vote for Michelle MacDonald for Justice in 2020…”

This is MacDonald’s fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court. MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. Since 2014, MacDonald has maintained an active campaign committee and website to promote her candidacy.

Today’s activity by MacDonald on social media is the first public campaigning she has specifically done for her fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court since announcing in July through an unrelated lawsuit that she planned to run for office “in 2020 and in the future.”

MacDonald will likely face Justice Paul Thissen, who was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Mark Dayton in 2018. Thissen has not made a formal announcement that he will seek election to the Minnesota Supreme court, but a representative of his campaign committee confirmed on Friday he will run for election in 2020. Continue reading

Appeals court hears oral arguments on Thursday on MacDonald’s lawsuit

The Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Thursday about Michelle MacDonald’s appeal of the dismissal of her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota. Arguments will be heard at 10:05 AM in Courtroom 200 of the Minnesota Judicial Center.

In March, Ramsey County Judge Richard H. Kyle, Jr. granted the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota in October. Judge Kyle ruled MacDonald was a public figure and that the statements made by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota “were either true or lack the requisite showing of actual malice…”

MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. MacDonald announced in July through an unrelated lawsuit that she “plans to run for office in 2020 and in the future.”

Click here to read the court filings related to MacDonald’s lawsuit.  Continue reading

Evavold’s criminal trial scheduled for March

A judge in Dakota County scheduled Dede Evavold’s criminal trial for March 23, 2020, on a criminal charge of violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

Evavold’s criminal trial was scheduled during a hearing today at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota. An evidentiary hearing was also scheduled for February 28, 2020.

Brodkorb was granted an HRO against Evavold last year for her involvement in surreptitiously obtaining and later distributing a photograph of Brodkorb’s wife and minor children online.

Michael and Sarah Brodkorb filed the HROs in Dakota County against Diane Ristau of Medford, Carrie Beaudette of St. Joseph, and Evavold, who lives in St. Cloud.

The photograph of Ms. Brodkorb with her minor children was distributed multiple times with false allegations on a social media account connected to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters.

The same social media account had been investigated by law enforcement for publishing threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements targeting judges, law enforcement, court staff, and journalists.

Evavold requested a court hearing to challenge the granting of the HRO, but a judge later upheld the HRO ruling that Evavold “was involved in the chain of events that led to repeated harassment of [Sarah Brodkorb] and her minor children.”

The HRO against Evavold remains in place until November 19, 2020. Continue reading

Evavold makes second court appearance on restraining order violation

Dede Evavold made her second court appearance involving a criminal charge of violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her in Dakota County by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

During a brief court hearing at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Evavold requested a formal complaint be filed related to the criminal charge. The prosecutor agreed to have a formal complaint drafted within 30 days and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for December 3, 2019. Evavold was arranged in July.

Brodkorb was granted an HRO against Evavold last year for her involvement in surreptitiously obtaining and later distributing a photograph of Brodkorb’s wife and minor children online.

Michael and Sarah Brodkorb filed the HROs in Dakota County against Diane Ristau of Medford, Carrie Beaudette of St. Joseph, and Evavold, who lives in St. Cloud.

The photograph of Ms. Brodkorb with her minor children was distributed multiple times with false allegations on a social media account connected to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters.

The same social media account had been investigated by law enforcement for publishing threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements targeting judges, law enforcement, court staff, and journalists.

Evavold requested a court hearing to challenge the granting of the HRO, but a judge later upheld the HRO ruling that Evavold “was involved in the chain of events that led to repeated harassment of [Sarah Brodkorb] and her minor children.”

The HRO against Evavold remains in place until November 19, 2020.

Evavold is currently on probation related to her criminal conviction in September 2016 of six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

In the courtroom yesterday with Evavold was Margaret Starry, who lives in Sartell, Minnesota. Starry is a supporter of Evavold and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. In January, Starry unsuccessfully tried to disrupt a book event in St. Cloud, Minnesota featuring Brodkorb and Allison Mann.

In response to a threating message on Twitter in July, Starry was instructed to stop attempting to make contact. Despite being instructed to stop making contact, Starry was actively attacking Brodkorb on social media in the days leading up to yesterday’s hearing and trying again to make contact. Continue reading

15-month investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The investigation by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility into alleged violations by Michelle MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys continues according to a letter from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

The investigation into the alleged violations by MacDonald was opened over 15 months ago after Missing in Minnesota filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to MacDonald filing a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against Missing in Minnesota, which appeared to be in violation of an Order of the Minnesota Supreme Court which details the conditions by which MacDonald is allowed to practice law.

The lawsuit filed by MacDonald against Missing in Minnesota was dismissed in March by a judge in Ramsey County. MacDonald is appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. Continue reading

MN Supreme Court referee: ‘indefinitely’ suspend MacDonald’s lawyer

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court has recommended that Karlowba R. Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, should be “indefinitely suspended” from the practice of law.

The recommendation by Judge Richard C. Perkins comes after a two-day hearing was held in July about a petition filed last December with the Minnesota Supreme Court by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

In the petition, the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility requested a court order revoking Adams Powell’s probation, suspending her law license, or “imposing otherwise appropriate discipline…” based on “unprofessional conduct” by Adams Powell. The petition claimed Adams Powell made false statements to the court, and others, including staff with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, that she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, that she failed to provide receipts for cash payments, and that she failed to “safeguard client funds.”

According to today’s court filing, this is the fourth disciplinary proceeding for “professional misconduct” involving Adams Powell.

Judge Perkins was blunt in describing Adams Powell’s lack of candor: “[w]hile a misstatement made only once may be a mistake, being stated in writing twice and the again under oath at a deposition demonstrates a disregard for the truth.”

In the final pages, Judge Perkins wrote that Adams Powell “refused to acknowledge her misconduct, exhibited no remorse for her misconduct, and failed to offer any evidence or assurance that she will not engage in similar future misconduct.” Judge Perkin’s added that “[i]n a case about candor to a court … [Adams Powell] displayed a lack of candor with this court during her own testimony.” Continue reading

Court grants 50-year restraining order against Dede Evavold

A judge in Dakota County granted a 50-year extension on the Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) requested by David Rucki and his daughter, Samantha Rucki, against Dede Evavold. The extension was granted at a hearing this morning at the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

The HRO against Evavold remains in effect until September 9, 2069.

Evavold was convicted in September 2016 of six felonies for her role in the disappearance of Samantha Rucki and her sister Gianna, who were abducted near their home in Lakeville, Minnesota by their mother Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, during a custody and divorce proceeding. Continue reading

Bukstein pleads guilty to violating restraining order

Kimberley Bukstein pleaded guilty yesterday in court to violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her in Dakota County by Michael Brodkorb.

Brodkorb was granted separate HROs against Kimberley and her husband Jay Bukstein in March after they relentlessly harassed Brodkorb for the past year. Kimberley and Jay Bukstein are supporters of Dede Evavold, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and Michelle MacDonald.

The Buksteins are referenced in the award-winning true crime book,  The Girls Are Gone, which was written by Brodkorb and Allison Mann.

Both Kimberley and Jay Bukstein are also “qualified” Rule 114 ADR Neutrals for the Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Office.

Kimberley Bukstein was charged on May 30, 2019, with a misdemeanor for violating the HRO filed by Brodkorb. In a brief court appearance yesterday at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Bukstein pleaded guilty and was given one year of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $130. Bukstein was also 0rdered to have no contact with Brodkorb and remain law-abiding. Continue reading

Evavold appears in court on restraining order violation

Dede Evavold was arranged in court today on one criminal charge of violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her in Dakota County by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Michael Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

During a hearing this morning at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Evavold did not enter a plea and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for October 31, 2019. Evavold was not represented by an attorney at today’s hearing.

Brodkorb was granted an HRO against Evavold last year for her involvement in surreptitiously obtaining and later distributing a photograph of Brodkorb’s wife and minor children online. Continue reading

MacDonald announces plans to run for office in 2020

Michelle MacDonald, who was labeled a “person of interest” in the disappearance of missing children and is currently under investigation by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, announced today – in a lawsuit – that she “plans to run for office in 2020 and in the future.”

The news about MacDonald’s intention to seek public office in 2020 was buried in a 379-page lawsuit by MacDonald and other Minnesota Republicans challenging the constitutionality of a Minnesota law regarding endorsements for public office.

MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. One week after losing her third campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court, MacDonald refused to rule out the possibility of running again in 2020 Continue reading