Star Tribune: MacDonald ‘has a history of controversy and legal trouble’

Michelle MacDonald “has a history of controversy and legal trouble” according to a Star Tribune editorial endorsing MacDonald’s opponent for the Minnesota Supreme Court, Justice Margaret Chutich.  MacDonald, who ran twice unsuccessfully for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016, filed to run against Chutich in June.

The “controversy and legal trouble” referenced by the Star Tribune in their editorial will be discussed in an upcoming book, “The Girls Are Gone” which will be released on October 23, 2018.

Earlier this week, MacDonald disclosed one of her bigoted reasons for challenging Chutich for the Minnesota Supreme Court. In a story published Monday by the Star Tribune, MacDonald said she decided to challenge Justice Margaret Chutich this election because Chutich is gay.

MacDonald’s “temperament” questioned in editorial

In the editorial published today, the Star Tribune noted MacDonald’s “background and temperament do not measure up to comparison”:

Chutich’s opponent is Michelle MacDonald, 56, a private family law attorney making her third bid for a Supreme Court seat. MacDonald has a history of controversy and legal trouble, including charges of professional misconduct that led to her law license being suspended for 60 days by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Her background and temperament do not measure up to comparison with the incumbent’s.

MacDonald’s law license was suspended for 60 days

The Minnesota Supreme Court suspended MacDonald’s law license for 60 days earlier this year and she remains on probation for two years in response to an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald in August 2016.

The conditions of MacDonald’s two-year probation included 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.”

MacDonald is currently being investigated by lawyers board

MacDonald is currently being investigated by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility for alleged violations of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys. The investigation into the alleged violations by MacDonald was opened after Missing in Minnesota filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in June after MacDonald filed a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against Missing in Minnesota, which appears to be in violation of an Order of the Minnesota Supreme Court which details the conditions by which MacDonald is allowed to practice law.

MacDonald’s legal work will be examined in an upcoming book

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.

An examination of MacDonald’s legal work will be included in the upcoming book, The Girls Are Gone which is available for pre-sale now and will be 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.

The Girls Are Gone will be published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing and will be released next week.

Court affirms ruling that MacDonald “knowingly violated” campaign law

In September 2017, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling from the Office of Administrative Hearings that MacDonald “knowingly violated” campaign law when she falsely claimed she was endorsed by a non-existent Republican organization during her 2016 campaign.

In December 2016, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ruled against MacDonald and also imposed a $500 civil penalty for violating the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act.

The initial complaint against MacDonald was filed by Barbara Linert of Eagan and Steve Timmer of Edina.

MacDonald wrapped herself “like a mummy” in her jail cell

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by  MacDonald in March 2015 against Dakota County stemming from her arrest while representing Sandra Grazzini-Rucki in a family court hearing was dismissed in September 2017.

MacDonald has filed an appeal with United State Court of Appeals.

It was during the custody hearing involving Grazzini-Rucki and her ex-husband, David Rucki, on September 12, 2013, that MacDonald took pictures in the courtroom which led to her being arrested.

MacDonald spent a portion of the trial representing Grazzini-Rucki while confined to a wheelchair after her refusal to walk back into the courtroom. MacDonald also refused to put on her shoes and glasses, or provide her legal name and address to law enforcement.

In March 2016, the court dismissed many of MacDonald’s claims including, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and retaliatory prosecution leaving only a few claims left to argue.

At that time, the court also found no grounds for claims of excessive force and state assault and battery “which related to her removal from the courtroom, removal of her personal effects, and placement in a wheelchair.”

Also dismissed were claims of equal protection, federal conspiracy, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and finally a claim by Thomas Shimota, MacDonald’s husband, for loss of consortium.

The federal lawsuit filed by MacDonald revealed details of her time in custody which MacDonald had not previously disclosed.

Because MacDonald raised claims regarding the conditions of confinement during her time in jail, the court was left to examine whether or not “Jail staff expressed intent to punish her” or if the removal of her mattress, toilet paper and bedding were “reasonably related to legitimate governmental objective.”

In the examination and subsequent order, the court stated that, according to an affidavit submitted in support of Dakota County’s motion, a deputy testified that “Jail staff removed her cell mattress because she ‘crawled underneath it’ and removed her toilet paper because she ‘used it to wrap herself from head-to-toe, like a mummy.’

The opinion continues, stating “[t]he Court notes that MacDonald’s behavior hindered the Jail from observing her well-being, which was especially important because MacDonald did not answer medical screening questions.” Based on this “legitimate purpose” for the removal of her mattress and toilet paper, the court determined there was no violation.

Perhaps the most revealing language in the memorandum can be found in a footnote at the bottom of the ninth page which detail claims by MacDonald regarding the conditions of confinement in Dakota County.

The court goes on to detail evidence set forth by Dakota County which went undisputed by MacDonald. The court states “many of these assertions also fail because Defendants offered undisputed evidence that contradict some of the claims and provided legitimate reasons justifying other conditions.”

These allegations include MacDonald’s assertion that she was “held in a ‘near-freezing’ cell all night.” This statement was contradicted by Defendants’ testimony evidence that the cell had a controlled thermostat which was set to 70 degrees and which Jail staff could not adjust and that MacDonald had been confined in a negative-pressure room “purely out of concern for her safety.”

Please follow Missing in Minnesota on Twitter and Facebook for updates on MacDonald’s campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Allison Mann contributed to this story.

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