Category Legal Developments

Disciplinary hearing for MacDonald scheduled for September

UPDATE (10:51 AM, Tuesday, September 8, 2020) –  The court hearing on the petition for disciplinary action filed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against Michelle MacDonald has been rescheduled for September 16, 2020, at 9 AM.

The hearing will be conducted online through Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Michelle MacDonald’s fourth campaign to be elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court will take a short break in September, as a court hearing will be held on the petition for disciplinary action filed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against MacDonald.

Senior Judge E. Anne McKinsey, who was appointed earlier this month as the referee to hear the petition for disciplinary action against MacDonald, issued a scheduling order yesterday.

A court hearing is scheduled for September 10, 2020, at 9:30 AM, at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The hearing will continue to September 11, if needed. Continue reading

Gildea appoints McKinsey to hear disciplinary case against MacDonald

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea has appointed Senior Judge E. Anne McKinsey as the referee to hear the petition for disciplinary action filed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against Michelle MacDonald. 

The disciplinary process will take months, as McKinsey will hear the case and “file her findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations for the disposition” of the petition for discipline against MacDonald.

The timing of the disciplinary process will complicate MacDonald’s campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court against Justice Paul Thissen. 

A scheduling order for the case will be issued in the coming weeks and MacDonald may have to spend time off the campaign trail and inside a courtroom defending herself against allegations of misconduct. Continue reading

MacDonald files to run for the Minnesota Supreme Court

Michelle MacDonald, who was labeled a “person of interest” in the disappearance of missing children, and is facing discipline for multiple violations of the rules governing licensed attorneys, filed today to run for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014, 2016, and 2018. In December, MacDonald started her fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court. Despite MacDonald facing serious discipline and the likely suspension of her law license, MacDonald can still run for the Minnesota Supreme Court. Continue reading

Lawyers board to MN Supreme Court: discipline MacDonald

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to discipline Michelle MacDonald after determining MacDonald violated the conditions of her probation by which she can practice law and the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys.

The petition comes after the completion of a 21-month investigation into MacDonald, which began after Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in June 2018 in response to MacDonald filing a lawsuit against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota. The lawsuit filed by MacDonald was dismissed in March 2019 by a judge in Ramsey County.

MacDonald appealed the dismissal of her lawsuit to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, but the Court ruled against MacDonald last month. Continue reading

Evavold a no-show for court appearance

UPDATE (1:30 PM, Friday, August 14, 2020) Dede Evavold’s next court appearance is scheduled for September 29, 2020, at 10 AM.

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UPDATE (12:00 PM, Thursday, March 19, 2020) – Dede Evavold’s pre-trial hearing for March 23, 2020, had been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dede Evavold failed to attend an evidentiary hearing this morning for her upcoming criminal trial on violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

Today’s hearing was scheduled for 9:00 AM this morning at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, and was requested by Evavold during a pre-trial hearing last December. The hearing was published on the public court calendar for Dakota County and it was listed on Minnesota State Court Information System.

Judge Vicki Taylor waited until 9:37 AM to allow Evavold to appear in the courtroom before the hearing was canceled. Because Evavold was a no-show for today’s hearing, there will now be a pre-trial hearing scheduled for March 23, 2020 – which was the date of Evavold’s criminal trial. The trial date has now been moved to April 20, 2020.

Judge Taylor left open the possibility of sanctioning Evavold for the costs associated with today’s hearing. Law enforcement was subpoenaed to testify and others were present in the courtroom waiting for Evavold to arrive for today’s hearing. Continue reading

Minnesota Court of Appeals rules against MacDonald

In a ruling that is being described as a win for “press freedoms,” the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Michelle MacDonald against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota.

In March 2019, Ramsey County Judge Richard H. Kyle, Jr. granted the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota in October. Judge Kyle ruled MacDonald was a public figure and that the statements made by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota “were either true or lack the requisite showing of actual malice…”

In a published opinion released this morning, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with the decision by Judge Kyle to dismiss MacDonald’s lawsuit last year.

The Minnesota Court of Appeal ruled “MacDonald failed to provide evidence creating any genuine dispute of material fact” and MacDonald “was a public figure at the relevant times” during the lawsuit. Further, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that “[s]tatements suggesting unethical, improper, or illegal behavior by a candidate for judicial office relate to the contest and qualifications for the office.”

MacDonald has 30 days to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the opinion released today by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Continue reading

ABC’s ’20/20′ episode: Four years 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.

In March 2017, ABC aired an updated “Footprints in the Snow” with new information about the case and the program has been rebroadcast multiple times since 2016.  Today – nearly four years after the original broadcast – many of the individuals interviewed remain entangled in the case of the sisters who went missing and were later found by law enforcement. Continue reading

Lawyers board: suspend MacDonald’s attorney for 6 months

A lawyer for the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board told the Minnesota Supreme Court today that Karlowba Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, should be suspended from practicing law for 6 months for violating numerous rules governing licensed attorneys in Minnesota.

Binh Thanh Tuong, attorney for the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, said during today’s hearing that “every step that [Adams-Powell] took was an attempt to cover-up.”

Last September, a referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Adams Powell made numerous false statements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to cooperate with her supervised probation, and violated her probation and suspension orders.

State Senator Bobby Joe Champion (pictured above), who serves as Adams Powell’s attorney, said his client’s conduct did not harm the public but acknowledged she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to properly deposit funds, and failed to get a co-signature on a deposit/receipt.

Champion acknowledges Adam Powell’s “lapses in judgment” and offered a 60-day suspension.

This is the fourth disciplinary proceeding involving professional misconduct for Adams Powell. The Minnesota Supreme Court will make a determination within 60 days on the appropriate discipline for Adams Powell. Continue reading

Minnesota Supreme Court hears allegations against MacDonald’s attorney tomorrow

The Minnesota Supreme Court will have a hearing tomorrow on allegations that Karlowba Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, violated numerous rules governing licensed attorneys in Minnesota.

Last September, a referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that Adams Powell made numerous false statements, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, failed to cooperate with her supervised probation, and violated her probation and suspension orders.

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility wants Adams Powell to be suspended from practicing law for 6 months. Adams Powell’s attorney, State Senator Bobby Joe Champion,  acknowledges her “lapses in judgment” and is offering a 60-day suspension.

This is the fourth disciplinary proceeding involving professional misconduct for Adams Powell.

Tomorrow’s hearing will be live-streamed by the Minnesota Supreme Court at 10 AMContinue reading

18-month investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The investigation by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility into alleged violations by Michelle MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys continues according to a letter from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

The investigation into the alleged violations by MacDonald was opened over 18 months ago after Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to MacDonald filing a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, which appeared to be in violation of an Order of the Minnesota Supreme Court which details the conditions by which MacDonald is allowed to practice law.

The lawsuit filed by MacDonald against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota was dismissed in March by a judge in Ramsey County. MacDonald is appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

MacDonald started her fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court last month. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016.  Continue reading

MacDonald begins fourth campaign for MN Supreme Court

UPDATE (4:04 PM, Friday, December 13, 2019) – This story has been updated to include confirmation from Justice Paul Thissen’s campaign that he will stand for election to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020. 

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Michelle MacDonald launched her candidacy today for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020, just hours after her attorney argued in court that she wasn’t a public figure because she wasn’t a candidate for public office.

During oral arguments at the Minnesota Court of Appeals MacDonald’s attorney, Karlowba R. Adams Powell, told the three judges who were hearing MacDonald’s appeal that since MacDonald was not a candidate for office, she was not a public figure.

But within hours after the hearing ended, MacDonald’s Twitter profile was updated to encourage people to “Vote for Michelle MacDonald for Justice in 2020…”

This is MacDonald’s fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court. MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. Since 2014, MacDonald has maintained an active campaign committee and website to promote her candidacy.

Today’s activity by MacDonald on social media is the first public campaigning she has specifically done for her fourth campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court since announcing in July through an unrelated lawsuit that she planned to run for office “in 2020 and in the future.”

MacDonald will likely face Justice Paul Thissen, who was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018. Thissen has not made a formal announcement that he will seek election to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but a representative of his campaign committee confirmed on Friday he will run for election in 2020. Continue reading

Appeals court hears oral arguments on Thursday on MacDonald’s lawsuit

The Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Thursday about Michelle MacDonald’s appeal of the dismissal of her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota. Arguments will be heard at 10:05 AM in Courtroom 200 of the Minnesota Judicial Center.

In March, Ramsey County Judge Richard H. Kyle, Jr. granted the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota in October. Judge Kyle ruled MacDonald was a public figure and that the statements made by Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota “were either true or lack the requisite showing of actual malice…”

MacDonald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018, having previously lost two bids for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016. MacDonald announced in July through an unrelated lawsuit that she “plans to run for office in 2020 and in the future.”

Click here to read the court filings related to MacDonald’s lawsuit.  Continue reading

Evavold’s criminal trial scheduled for March

A judge in Dakota County scheduled Dede Evavold’s criminal trial for March 23, 2020, on a criminal charge of violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

Evavold’s criminal trial was scheduled during a hearing today at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota. An evidentiary hearing was also scheduled for February 28, 2020.

Brodkorb was granted an HRO against Evavold last year for her involvement in surreptitiously obtaining and later distributing a photograph of Brodkorb’s wife and minor children online.

Michael and Sarah Brodkorb filed the HROs in Dakota County against Diane Ristau of Medford, Carrie Beaudette of St. Joseph, and Evavold, who lives in St. Cloud.

The photograph of Ms. Brodkorb with her minor children was distributed multiple times with false allegations on a social media account connected to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters.

The same social media account had been investigated by law enforcement for publishing threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements targeting judges, law enforcement, court staff, and journalists. Continue reading

Evavold makes second court appearance on restraining order violation

Dede Evavold made her second court appearance involving a criminal charge of violating a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) filed against her in Dakota County by Michael Brodkorb. Evavold was charged in May after she attempted to contact Brodkorb for assistance in restarting her blog after WordPress suspended it for violating their terms of service.

During a brief court hearing at the Dakota County Northern Service Center in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Evavold requested a formal complaint be filed related to the criminal charge. The prosecutor agreed to have a formal complaint drafted within 30 days and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for December 3, 2019. Evavold was arranged in July.

Brodkorb was granted an HRO against Evavold last year for her involvement in surreptitiously obtaining and later distributing a photograph of Brodkorb’s wife and minor children online.

Michael and Sarah Brodkorb filed the HROs in Dakota County against Diane Ristau of Medford, Carrie Beaudette of St. Joseph, and Evavold, who lives in St. Cloud.

The photograph of Ms. Brodkorb with her minor children was distributed multiple times with false allegations on a social media account connected to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters.

The same social media account had been investigated by law enforcement for publishing threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements targeting judges, law enforcement, court staff, and journalists. Continue reading