Lawyers board: Suspend MacDonald’s law license

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility is requesting that Michelle MacDonald, who is a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, “be suspended from the practice of law for a minimum of 90 days as a sanction for her misconduct.

The request to suspend MacDonald’s law license was made in a court filing by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to a disciplinary hearing which was held earlier this month

In March, the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to discipline MacDonald after determining that she violated the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys and the conditions of her probation by which she could practice law.

The petition was filed 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.

Senior Judge E. Anne McKinsey was appointed by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea as the referee to hear the petition for disciplinary action against MacDonald. McKinsey is scheduled to release her findings and recommendations for discipline against MacDonald by October 20, 2020.

According to the brief filed last week, MacDonald “violated Rule 3.1, MRPC” when she filed her “factually frivolous defamation lawsuit” against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota. The brief is damning and details numerous violations by MacDonald of the rules governing licensed attorneys in Minnesota.

The filing from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility validates the work of Brodkorh and Missing in Minnesota in reporting about Michelle MacDonald, as one of the reasons they want her suspended is because she filed “a factually frivolous lawsuit against a local journalist [Brodkorb], which was dismissed after over a year of costly litigation.”

Despite facing discipline, MacDonald is a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court  

Associate Justice Paul C. Thissen

MacDonald is running against Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Thissen, who was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018.

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 severe discipline and the likely suspension of her law license, MacDonald can still run for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Courts in Minnesota have interpreted the requirement in the Minnesota Constitution that judges “shall be learned in the law” as being licensed to practice law. Candidates for the Minnesota Supreme Court, Minnesota Court of Appeals, District Court of Minnesota, or county attorney are required to submit a copy of their law license when they file to run for office with the Minnesota Secretary of State.

If MacDonald was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in November and her law license was later suspended, legal questions remain unanswered if she could serve on the court. 

Aside from being a repeat candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, MacDonald notes on the website for her law firm that she “aspires to be a United States Supreme Court Justice.” MacDonald asked President Donald Trump to nominate her to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in late-September. Trump later nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg. 

MacDonald’s legal work examined in an award-winning true crime book

An examination of MacDonald’s legal work was detailed in the book, The Girls Are Gone which was released on October 23, 2018.

The book also includes new information about the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki and the adults who conspired to keep the missing sisters and the truth hidden.

The Girls Are Gone also explores the connection between MacDonald and two people convicted for their roles in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and Dede Evavold. MacDonald was labeled a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki but did not cooperate in the investigation.

Since being released in October 2018,  The Girls Are Gone has been a commercial and critical success. In April, Brodkorb and Allison Mann were awarded a 2019 Independent Publisher Book AwardThe Kindle Edition of The Girls Are Gone has appeared on multiple “best seller” lists by AmazonThe Girls Are Gone is published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing.

Last October, Brodkorb and Mann released an audiobook of The Girls Are Gone, which was produced at Studio AmericanaThe Girls Are Gone is available for sale through numerous retailers in audiobook, paperback, and ebook.

Below is the brief filed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility requesting the suspension of MacDonald’s law license as a sanction for her misconduct.

Please follow Missing in Minnesota on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the disciplinary process involving Michelle MacDonald.

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