Category Legal Developments

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

Dede Evavold released from jail; remains on probation for eight years

Dede Evavold, who was found guilty for her role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, was released from jail yesterday after serving 118 days in jail. Evavold has been in jail since she was convicted last September.

Evavold was charged in December 2015 related to her involvement in 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.

She was convicted in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.

Evavold will remain on probation for eight years

Starting this year, Evavold will serve 12 days in jail on November 18 for the next eight years – the anniversary of the day the Rucki sisters were found. Evavold must also serve 12 days of Sentencing of Service for the next eight years.

Evavold will also pay $10,000 to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board. She must also pay two fines of $944, which represents the 944 days the Rucki sisters were missing.

Evavold is also prohibited from having any contact with minor children and she must undergo a forensic psychological evaluation and cognitive skills evaluation.

In October, Evavold wrote a threatening handwritten letter claiming “that from jail, I can use the truth” to “completely destroy [the] blackened reputation” of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and elected officials from Dakota County.

Evavold’s request to serve the remainder of her jail sentence for 2016 and 2017 on electronic home monitoring was denied twice by Judge Karen Karen Asphaug. Continue reading

Dahlens plead guilty in court for role in disappearance of Rucki sisters

The owners of a ranch in rural northern Minnesota each pleaded guilty today to one count of depravation of parental rights for their role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, Minnesota.

On April 19, 2013, Samantha and Gianna Rucki disappeared during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.

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Doug Dahlen, Gina Dahlen. Picture source: Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

Doug and Gina Dahlen both admitted in a court hearing this morning at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings, that Samantha and Gianna Rucki were delivered to their residence at the White Horse Ranch in Herman, Minnesota on April 21, 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, the girls were driven to the ranch by their mother, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold.

Gina Dahlen cried as she stood before Judge Karen Asphaug and pleaded guilty to knowingly depriving David Rucki of his parental rights after he was awarded custody of all five of his children in November 2013. In total, Samantha and Gianna were held at the White Horse Ranch for 942 days.

Both Doug and Gina Dahlen admitted in court that they knew David Rucki had been awarded custody of his children and that they failed to contact to David Rucki and law enforcement that the missing Rucki kids were living on their ranch. Continue reading

Grazzini-Rucki boasts she’s violated court orders, talked with co-defendants

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki boasted in a recent radio interview that she has violated court orders by communicating with additional people who have been criminally charged related to the disappearance of her two daughters.

On December 21, 2016, Grazzini-Rucki was interviewed by Fletcher Long for his show, “The Long Version.” During the interview, Grazzini-Rucki was asked if she had communicated with Doug and Gina Dahlen.

According to the criminal complaints filed against the Dahlens, Samantha and Gianna Rucki were delivered to the Dahlen’s residence at the White Horse Ranch in northern Minnesota on April 21, 2013 by their mother, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold.

Grazzini-Rucki was convicted in July on six counts of deprivation of parent rights for her role in the disappearance of her daughters. Evavold was also found guilty in September on six counts of depravation of parental rights.

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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 denies second request from Evavold to jail serve sentence on home monitoring

For the second time in the last month, Dede Evavold’s request to serve the remainder of her jail sentence for 2016 and 2017 on electronic home monitoring has been denied.

Evavold was charged last December related to her involvement in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki who ran from their home on April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents. She was found guilty in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.

Judge said Evavold “showed no remorse” for her crimes

Judge Karen Asphaug said Evavold “showed no remorse or comprehension” for her actions against the Rucki family, adding that Evavold’s actions “disrupted a family for 944 days.”

Evavold was sentenced last November in Dakota County to serve 180 days in jail and she will remain on probation for the next eight years for her role in the disappearance of the two sisters from Lakeville.

Evavold is a close friend and confidant of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, the mother of the Rucki sisters, who she met during Grazzini-Rucki’s divorce with David Rucki. In July, Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty on six counts of deprivation of parental rights for her involvement in the disappearance of her daughters.

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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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Sandra Grazzini-Rucki released from jail

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was released from jail on Monday after being held in custody since early November for multiple probation violations.

At a court hearing at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings, Judge Karen Asphaug again determined that Grazzini-Rucki had violated her probabtion since being released from jail in October.

Judge Asphaug placed Grazzini-Rucki on “court-supervised probation” because Grazzini-Rucki repeatedly refused to provide Dakota County Community Corrections (DCCC) with a verifiable address and she would not comply with GPS monitoring.

DCCC will no longer supervise Grazzini-Rucki except to determine whether Grazzini-Rucki has completed her required 12 days of Sentencing of Service for the next six years.

Starting in 2017, Grazzini-Rucki will begin serving 15 days in jail on November 18 – the anniversary of the day her daughters were found – for the next six years.

In July, Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty on six counts of deprivation of parental rights for her role in the disappearance of her daughters, Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters ran from their home on April 19, 2013 during a custody and divorce proceeding involving their parents.

The girls’ father, David Rucki, was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing.

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Additional criminal charges filed in disappearance of missing Lakeville sisters

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office has filed additional criminal charges against Doug and Gina Dahlen for their involvement in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville.

Four additional felony charges of  deprivation of parental rights have been filed against the Dahlens, who have now been charged with a total of six felony counts for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

The girls disappeared on April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents.

On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on the Dahlens’ ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department.

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

According to the amended criminal complaints, Samantha and Gianna Rucki were delivered to the Dahlen’s residence at the White Horse Ranch in northern Minnesota on April 21, 2013 by the girls’ mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold.

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