Category Michelle MacDonald

Michelle MacDonald’s law license ‘conditionally reinstated’

Michelle MacDonald’s law license has been “conditionally reinstated” by the Minnesota Supreme Court effective today subject to her completion of the written portion of the Bar exam “on the subject of professional responsibility…”

MacDonald will remain on supervised probation for two years with numerous conditions limiting her practice of law.

MacDonald has until January 17, 2019, to provide verification that she has completed the written portion of the Bar exam “on the subject of professional responsibility…” or she will be automatically re-suspended “pending proof of successful completion of the examination…”

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended last year that MacDonald’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days, followed by two years of probation, in response to an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald in August 2016.

The conditions of MacDonald’s two-year probation include that she will be supervised by an attorney appointed by the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

MacDonald is prohibited from engaging in “the solo practice of law,” and she must “work in a setting where she is in daily contact with, and under the direct supervision of another Minnesota licensed attorney.”

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Michelle MacDonald’s law office in West St. Paul, Minnesota

The complaint filed against MacDonald focused on her behavior during family court proceedings involving Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her legal representation of Joseph Francis D’Costa.

The complaint claimed MacDonald’s disorganization required the D’Costa trial to last longer than necessary, adding that MacDonald offered exhibits that “were a mess.”

MacDonald was arrested during a court hearing in September 2013 while serving as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.

MacDonald’s direct responsibility for her conduct which led to her arrest was repeatedly mentioned in the order from the Minnesota Supreme Court. Continue reading

Lisa Elliott named one of Minnesota Lawyer’s ‘Attorneys of the Year’

Lisa Elliott, who serves as David Rucki’s family court attorney was named one of Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorneys of the Year for 2017 at a ceremony last evening in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Lawyer “recognizes the best achievements in the Minnesota legal profession with the Attorneys of the Year awards.”

Elliott has continued to serve as David Rucki’s attorney since 2011, while Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has been represented by numerous other attorneys, including Michelle MacDonald.

In a story about Elliott, Minnesota Lawyer highlighted that “Elliott’s tenacity prevailed in what is considered the first significant case in Minnesota dealing with parental alienation.”

Elliott told Minnesota Lawyer, “I like helping people through some pretty tough stages in their lives and see them come out the other side.”

David Rucki praised Elliott’s work, “on behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank Lisa Elliott for being an amazing ally and advocate over the last seven years.”

“Lisa has gone above and beyond to fight for my children and me more times than I can count. Congratulations and thank you to Lisa and everyone at Elliott Law Office,” said David. Continue reading

Michelle MacDonald’s law license officially suspended

Michelle MacDonald, a licensed attorney in Minnesota for 30 years and who twice ran for the Minnesota Supreme Court, is now officially suspended from the practice of law.

In an order issued two weeks ago by the Minnesota Supreme Court, MacDonald’s license has been suspended for a minimum of 60 days. MacDonald must complete a series of tasks prior to being eligible for reinstatement of her license to a probationary status for a period of two years.

Among the conditions placed on MacDonald if her license is reinstated will be a restriction on her ability to have a solo law practice.

MichelleMacDonaldSuspenedLawLicenseThe court will also require MacDonald to “work in a setting where she is in daily contact with, and under the direct supervision of, another Minnesota licensed attorney.”

Before being eligible for reinstatement, MacDonald must prove that she is prepared to cease solo practice.

In addition to working daily with a supervising attorney who must co-sign all court pleadings, MacDonald must also work with a probation supervisor appointed by the Board to assure her compliance with the terms of her probation.

In recent days, MacDonald’s law office in West St. Paul has become dark, unkempt, and ragged, without any signs of the active law practice MacDonald had years ago. Continue reading

Michelle MacDonald’s law license suspended by Minnesota Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court has suspended Michelle MacDonald’s law license for a minimum of 60 days, and she will be on supervised probation in response to an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald in August 2016.

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended last year 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.

But the final order from the Minnesota Supreme Court did not include a mental health evaluation which triggered Associate Justice Anne McKeig to dissent in part from the court’s decision.

The conditions of MacDonald’s two-year probation include that her probation will be supervised by an attorney appointed by the Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

MacDonald is prohibited from engaging in “the solo practice of law” and she must “work in a setting where she is in daily contact with, and under the direct supervision of another Minnesota licensed attorney.”

The order from the Minnesota Supreme court states that the “attorney who directly supervises [MacDonald’s] work must co-sign all pleadings, briefs, and other court documents that respondent files. This attorney may not be an associate who works for respondent’s law firm. Any attorney or law firm with whom she practices shall be informed of the terms of this probation.”

MacDonald did not respond to a request for comment on the order from the Minnesota Supreme Court.

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Michelle MacDonald helped Dede Evavold in masking the extent of her role in the disappearance of Rucki sisters

Michelle MacDonald, who serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney, helped Dede Evavold during a media interview in masking the extent of her full role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki based on a video published by Evavold.

In the video published by Evavold last week, MacDonald instructs Evavold on how to correctly answer a question from the producer with ABC’s “20/20” after Evavold mistakenly admitted a key element of her criminal involvement in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters in an interview.

This video was recorded before Evavold was charged with four additional felonies, and before she was convicted of a total of six felonies for her involvement in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

Evavold served as MacDonald’s campaign chair and manager during MacDonald’s unsuccessful bid for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014.

MacDonald’s client, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, was also convicted of six felonies for her role in the disappearance of her daughters.

The video provides further evidence of MacDonald’s direct involvement in the propaganda machinery of Grazzini-Rucki and Evavold. Continue reading

Missing in Minnesota 2017: The year in review

Missing in Minnesota continues to document and report on the true story of two sisters who vanished, the father who kept searching, and the adults who conspired to keep the truth hidden.

In 2017, Missing in Minnesota published over 70 stories, over 500 tweets, and built a Facebook Page with over 10,000 followers which provided detailed breaking news, analysis, and commentary on the continuing legal developments involving the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

The most significant change to Missing in Minnesota in 2017 was the additional of Allison Mann, who aside from contributing to the published content, Mann has provided strategic direction as Missing in Minnesota transitions from an online format to additional mediums which will be announced in 2018, so stay tuned! Continue reading

Supreme Court hearing today on MacDonald’s law license

The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today at 9:00 A.M. regarding the Petition for Disciplinary Action against Michelle MacDonald, who is appealing a recommendation from a Minnesota Supreme Court referee that her law license be suspended.

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended earlier this year 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.

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.
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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.

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