Category Michelle MacDonald

Federal civil rights lawsuit filed by MacDonald dismissed

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Michelle MacDonald in March 2015 against Dakota County stemming from her arrest while representing Sandra Grazzini-Rucki in a family court hearing has been dismissed.

It was during the custody hearing involving Grazzini-Rucki and her ex-husband, David Rucki, on September 12, 2013, that MacDonald took pictures in the courtroom which led to her being arrested.

MacDonald spent a portion of the trial representing Grazzini-Rucki while confined to a wheelchair after her own refusal to walk back into the courtroom. MacDonald also refused to put on her shoes and glasses, or provide her legal name and address to law enforcement.

The Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Defendants’ Summary Judgement, written by John R. Turnheim, Chief Judge of United State District Court of Minnesota, dismisses all of MacDonald’s claims. Because the court has ruled that no grounds exist for the lawsuit, attorneys representing Dakota County have requested that the court order MacDonald to pay costs incurred by Dakota County due to the lawsuit.

In March of 2016, the court dismissed many of MacDonald’s claims including, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and retaliatory prosecution leaving only a few claims left to argue.

At that time, the court also found no grounds for claims of excessive force and state assault and battery “which related to her removal from the courtroom, removal of her personal effects, and placement in a wheelchair.”

Also dismissed were claims of equal protection, federal conspiracy, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and finally a claim by Thomas Shimota, MacDonald’s husband, for loss of consortium. Continue reading

Court affirms ruling that Michelle MacDonald ‘knowingly violated’ campaign law

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling from the Office of Administrative Hearings that Michelle MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016, “knowingly violated” campaign law when she falsely claimed she was endorsed by a non-existent Republican organization.

Last December, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ruled against MacDonald and also imposed a $500 civil penalty for violating the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act. The initial complaint against MacDonald was filed by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Steve Timmer of Edina.

The ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals highlighted that “the falsity of [MacDonald’s] statement” is what triggered the violation of the law:




In an interview about today’s ruling Linert said “Michelle MacDonald asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to find the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act unconstitutional and a violation of her First Amendment rights.”

Linert continued, “if they had found in her favor, any candidate in any election could lie about their endorsement without penalty of law. The court saw the importance of protecting voters from that chaos and ruled against her.”

“Hopefully this will be the final nail in the coffin of Michelle MacDonald’s judicial aspirations,” added Linert.

Timmer called the ruling  “an important, win for protecting voters from deception.”

Timmer added, “MacDonald’s position was that she could say anything, truthful or not, and be protected by the First Amendment. Our counsel, Karl Procaccini from Greene Espel, framed the issue perfectly in his opening remarks to the Court of Appeals: Does ‘Michelle MacDonald have a constitutional right to lie about an endorsement she doesn’t have?'” Continue reading

Lawyers Board: Michelle MacDonald’s ‘serious misconduct’ warrants suspension of her law license

Michelle MacDonald’s behavior during a family court hearing for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was described as “the ultimate dereliction of an attorney’s duty, and is unquestionably serious misconduct warranting suspension” in a brief filed by the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board involving the attorney complaint against MacDonald.

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended in January that MacDonald’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days, followed by two years of probation, which would include a mental health evaluation.

The recommendation by Judge Heather Sweetland comes after a two day hearing was held last November about an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016.

MacDonald is appealing the recommendation that her law license be suspended and the brief filed by Susan M. Humiston, Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. Continue reading

ABC’s ’20/20′ episode: One year 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.

Last Saturday, ABC’s “20/20” rebroadcast the episode with updated information.

Since the episode first aired last April, there have been multiple developments involving many of the people interviewed.

David Rucki

As highlighted on “20/20”, David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. David Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found on a rural ranch in northern Minnesota.

They live with him and their other siblings at the family’s home in Lakeville. “20/20” updated their show with new home movies of David celebrating Christmas last December with all of his children.

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Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Picture source: Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

Since being convicted in July 2016 on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights, Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters have continued their behavior of making false allegations against David Rucki, his family, the media, law enforcement, and the judiciary. Grazzini-Rucki had tried to stop the rebroadcast of the episode of ABC’s “20/20” 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.

Grazzini-Rucki’s disdain for law enforcement and the court system has become more flagrant, her rhetoric more incendiary, and her behavior increasingly dangerous. Grazzini-Rucki is currently on probation for her role in the disappearance of her children, but announced earlier this month that she and others will be targeting the family members of judges, attorneys, and county staff, including their children.

Grazzini-Rucki is appealing her criminal conviction. Continue reading

Michelle MacDonald appeals possible suspension of law license, campaign law violation

Michelle MacDonald is appealing both a recommendation from a Minnesota Supreme Court referee that her law license be suspended and a ruling from a three-judge panel which ruled she “knowingly violated” campaign law when she falsely claimed her campaign was endorsed by a non-existent Republican organization.

Court documents show attorneys for MacDonald filed paperwork with the Minnesota Court of Appeals within the last few days on both appeals.

Minnesota Supreme Court referee recommended suspension of Michelle MacDonald’s law license

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended earlier this month that Michelle MacDonald’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days, followed by two years of probation, which would include a mental health evaluation.

The recommendation by Judge Heather Sweetland comes after a two day hearing was held last November about an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016, and who also serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.

MacDonald was arrested during a family court hearing in September 2013 while serving as Grazzini-Rucki’s attorney. The public booking from MacDonald’s arrest by the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office is pictured above-left.  Continue reading

MN Supreme Court referee recommends suspension of Michelle MacDonald’s law license

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court has recommended that Michelle MacDonald’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days, followed by two years of probation, which would include a mental health evaluation.

The recommendation by Judge Heather Sweetland comes after a two day hearing was held in November about an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016, and who also serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.

Below are the findings issued by Judge Sweetland regarding MacDonald.

Michelle MacDonald – Referee Findings Fact, Conclusion of Law, Recommendation for Discipline – January 03,… by Michael Brodkorb on Scribd

Attorney complaint against MacDonald alleged violation of rules governing attorney conduct

The 16-page petition for disciplinary action for violating of rules governing attorney conduct was filed against MacDonald by the Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Susan M. Humiston

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Court rules Michelle MacDonald ‘knowingly violated’ campaign law

A three-judge panel has ruled that Michelle MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016, “knowingly violated” campaign law when she falsely claimed she was endorsed by a non-existent Republican organization.

The judges with the Office of Administrative Hearings also imposed a $500 civil penalty against MacDonald.

Steve Timmer, one of people who filed the complaint against MacDonald said today, “I am not a fan of party endorsements for any judicial office. Even worse is when a candidate, campaigning to sit on the Supreme Court, says or implies that she is endorsed when she isn’t.”

Timmer added, “that is what Michelle MacDonald did, and I am glad that the Office of Administrative Hearings saw it that way, too.”

Complaint alleged MacDonald’s false claim of endorsement was a “knowing and intentional violation” of campaign laws

Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig held a hearing in November on the complaint filed against MacDonald by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Timmer of Edina, who claimed MacDonald provided false information to the Star Tribune for publication in their “Voter Guide.”

Linert said today that she “was glad Michelle MacDonald was held accountable for misleading the voters.” Continue reading

Court hearing tomorrow on campaign complaint against MacDonald

The Office of Administrative Hearings will convene a three-judge panel tomorrow for an evidentiary hearing on a campaign complaint filed against Michelle MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016.

The court hearing will be at the Office of Administrative Hearings at 9:30AM in St. Paul.

Just days before the election, Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig ordered there was probable cause to believe MacDonald violated the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act by falsely claiming her current campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court had received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

MacDonald was soundly defeated by incumbent Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Natalie Hudson on Election Day.

Complaint alleges MacDonald’s false claim of endorsement was a “knowing and intentional violation” of campaign laws

Judge Palmer-Denig held a hearing in November on the complaint filed against MacDonald by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Steve Timmer of Edina, who claim MacDonald provided false information to the Star Tribune for publication in their “Voter Guide.”

In 2014, MacDonald was the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court against Justice David Lillehaug. MacDonald lost to Lillehaug by just 7 points — 53 percent to 46 percent in November 2014.

Earlier this year, MacDonald announced she would run again for the Minnesota Supreme Court, but she was not endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota after Republicans decided not to endorse judicial candidates.

Continue reading

Judge: probable cause to believe MacDonald violated campaign law

Just days before the election, Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig has ordered there is probable cause to believe Michelle MacDonald violated the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act by falsely claiming her current campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court had received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Judge Palmer-Denig held a hearing earlier this week on the complaint filed against MacDonald by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Steve Timmer of Edina, who claim MacDonald provided false information to the Star Tribune for publication in their “Voter Guide.”

Complaint alleges MacDonald’s false claim of endorsement was a “knowing and intentional violation” of campaign laws

In 2014, MacDonald was the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court against Justice David Lillehaug. MacDonald lost to Lillehaug by just 7 points — 53 percent to 46 percent in November 2014.

Earlier this year, MacDonald announced she would run again for the Minnesota Supreme Court, but she was not endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota after Republicans decided not to endorse judicial candidates.

Continue reading

Judge orders hearing on campaign complaint against MacDonald

The Office of Administrative Hearings has ordered a hearing be held next week on the complaint filed against Michelle MacDonald, which alleges she violated the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act by falsely claiming her current campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court had received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

The complaint against MacDonald was filed earlier this week by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Steve Timmer of Edina, who claim MacDonald provided false information to the Star Tribune for publication in their “Voter Guide.”

In an order issued earlier today, Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig said the complaint filed against MacDonald “alleges sufficient facts” to “support finding a prima facie violation”:

The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the complaint alleges sufficient facts regarding Respondent’s claimed endorsements to support finding a prima facie violation of Minn. Stat. § 211B.02.

Judge Palmer-Denig ordered a probable cause hearing to be held next Tuesday. According to the order from court:

At the conclusion of the probable cause hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will either: (1) dismiss the complaint based on a determination that the complaint is frivolous, or that there is no probable cause to believe that the violation of law alleged in the complaint has occurred; or (2) determine that there is probable cause to believe that the violation of law alleged in the complaint has occurred and refer the case to the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the scheduling of an evidentiary hearing. Evidentiary hearings are conducted pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 211B.35 (2016).

The complaint alleges MacDonald’s false claim of endorsement was a “knowing and intentional violation” of campaign laws.

In 2014, MacDonald was the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court against Justice David Lillehaug. MacDonald lost to Lillehaug by just 7 points — 53 percent to 46 percent in November 2014.

Earlier this year, MacDonald announced she would run again for the Minnesota Supreme Court, but she was not endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota after Republicans decided not to endorse judicial candidates.

Continue reading