A hearing will be held in November involving the attorney complaint filed against Michelle MacDonald, who is currently a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, and also serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.
A 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
The complaint against MacDonald is focused on her behavior during family court proceedings involving Grazzini-Rucki and her legal representation of Joseph Francis D’Costa. The complaint alleges MacDonald disorganization required the trial to last longer than necessary, adding that MacDonald offered exhibits that “were a mess.”
MacDonald’s attorney told Minnesota Lawyer in August that she will fight the complaint.
On her campaign website, MacDonald encourages people to attend her disciplinary hearing, but promotes the wrong date of the hearing. MacDonald’s website states “the hearing is on Wednesday, November 16. All are welcomed to attend.”
The hearing is actually scheduled for November 15, 2016 at 9:00 A.M., at the Minnesota Judicial Center, Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board Courtroom.
According to the scheduling order, the disciplinary hearing is expected to last two days. A final determination on any disciplinary action against MacDonald will be announced in January.
The disciplinary hearing against MacDonald will be held one week after voters will decided if MacDonald should be elected to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court. MacDonald is running against Justice Natalie Hudson.
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.
Both MacDonald’s client and former campaign manager convicted of felonies related to disappearance of children
Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty in July on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to 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 Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.
MacDonald has been labeled as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters – a label which law enforcement confirmed has not been removed from MacDonald. MacDonald was replaced as Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal defense attorney by Stephen Grigsby on November 18, 2015 – the same day the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department.
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. Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.
MacDonald has refused to speak with the Lakeville Police Department about her possible involvement in the disappearance of the sisters – even after public statements from her that she would cooperate in the investigation. Her criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, who also served as Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal defense attorney, said last year that he was would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.
Deirdre (Dede) Evavold, MacDonald’s former campaign manager, was convicted last month on six counts of felony deprivation of parental rights involving the disappearance of the Rucki sisters. Evavold was listed as the chair of MacDonald’s campaign until earlier this year.
As noted in the complaint, MacDonald was disciplined by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board in 2012 for “for failing to deposit settlement proceeds into a trust account, failing to maintain proper trust account books and records, failing to promptly deliver funds to a client, failing in her duty to be responsible for the conduct of a non-lawyer and failing to cooperate with the Director’s investigation…”
Below is the complete complaint filed against MacDonald. Please check back to Missing in Minnesota for updates on the disciplinary hearing against MacDonald.