Michelle MacDonald, a licensed attorney in Minnesota for 30 years and who twice ran for the Minnesota Supreme Court, is now officially suspended from the practice of law.
In an order issued two weeks ago by the Minnesota Supreme Court, MacDonald’s license has been suspended for a minimum of 60 days. MacDonald must complete a series of tasks prior to being eligible for reinstatement of her license to a probationary status for a period of two years.
Among the conditions placed on MacDonald if her license is reinstated will be a restriction on her ability to have a solo law practice.
The court will also require MacDonald to “work in a setting where she is in daily contact with, and under the direct supervision of, another Minnesota licensed attorney.”
Before being eligible for reinstatement, MacDonald must prove that she is prepared to cease solo practice.
In addition to working daily with a supervising attorney who must co-sign all court pleadings, MacDonald must also work with a probation supervisor appointed by the Board to assure her compliance with the terms of her probation.
In recent days, MacDonald’s law office in West St. Paul has become dark, unkempt, and ragged, without any signs of the active law practice MacDonald had years ago.
MacDonald’s suspension may last longer than 60 days
As part of the disciplinary action, MacDonald is required to notify “clients, opposing counsel and tribunals” of her suspension.
In a letter dated January 26, 2018, MacDonald notified Dakota County Judge Phillip Kanning of her suspension. MacDonald wrote that she “has been suspended for 60 days, February 1 to Easter Sunday, April 1.”
Contrary to MacDonald’s claim, it is not predetermined that MacDonald will be reinstated on April 1, and it, in fact, represents the best case scenario for MacDonald.
15 days before the end of the suspension period MacDonald must file an affidavit with the court and the Director of the Lawyers Responsibility Board swearing to her completion of the requirements ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
MacDonald’s suspension and probation stem in large part from her work as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.
MacDonald was arrested during a court hearing in September 2013 while serving as Grazzini-Rucki’s attorney.
Both MacDonald’s client and former campaign manager convicted of felonies related to 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 regarding MacDonald.
Michael Brodkorb contributed to this story.