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.

Both MacDonald’s client and former campaign manager convicted of felonies related to the disappearance of children

Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty in July 2016 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 was labeled in April 2015 as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.  MacDonald refused to cooperate with the Lakeville Police Department’s investigation into 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, said in 2015 that he would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.

Deirdre (Dede) Evavold, MacDonald’s former campaign manager, was convicted in September 2016 on six counts of felony deprivation of parental rights involving the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.

Below is the full order from the Minnesota Supreme Court issued on March 27, 2018, regarding MacDonald.

Allison Mann contributed to this story. 

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