Posts tagged Missing in Minnesota

MacDonald’s testimony refutes claims made in her lawsuit

Michelle MacDonald’s testimony during a disciplinary hearing yesterday validated the claims made by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility that she filed a “factually false defamation lawsuit” against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota.

In March, 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 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 in June by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea as the referee to hear the petition for disciplinary action against MacDonald.

During the nearly 8-hour hearing, which was live-streamed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, MacDonald’s own testimony refuted many of the claims she made in her lawsuit against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota.

MacDonald admits Brodkorb posted her booking photo

Booking photo from MacDonald’s arrest on September 12, 2013.

MacDonald filed her lawsuit in part over the publication of the booking photo from her arrest during a court hearing involving Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on September 12, 2013.

In her lawsuit, MacDonald claimed she filed a police report against Brodkorb on May 24 and June 11, 2018, regarding a booking photo published on Missing in Minnesota.

In response to a public data request, the Eagan Police Department provided a police report from May 24, 2018, but they could not find a report filed by MacDonald on June 11, 2018.

According to the police report from May 24, 2018, provided by the Eagan Police Department, MacDonald told police that Brodkorb took a picture of MacDonald in public, doctored it to look like a mugshot and uploaded it to a mugshot website.

The Eagan Police Department investigated MacDonald’s claims and found them unfounded. The report states: “the photo turned out to be a valid public booking photo.”

MacDonald admitted during her testimony at her disciplinary hearing that the booking photo published by Michael Brodkorb was the same booking photo taken by the Dakota Sheriff’s Office when she was arrested during a court hearing for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, reversing claims she made in her lawsuit.

MacDonald claimed in her lawsuit that her booking photo had not been published, “or showed up on the internet” – which is not true.

 

The booking photo of MacDonald from her arrest in September 2013 is available through the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and websites that document arrests

Yesterday was the first time MacDonald admitted that Brodkorb had posted an actual booking photo and not a doctored photograph or “false image” as she claimed in her lawsuit. 

MacDonald admits other media outlets labeled her a “person of interest”

In her lawsuit, MacDonald claimed she was “not aware” of any other media outlet reporting that she was labeled a “person of interest.”

 

During cross-examination by Keshini Ratnayake, Senior Assistant Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, MacDonald acknowledged that she was aware that another media outlet had published that she was labeled a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department into the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, prior to filing her lawsuit against Brodkorb.  

MacDonald testified yesterday that she was aware that a journalist for the Star Tribune published that she “was a ‘person of interest’ in the case.”

MacDonald sued Brodkorb over a tweet sent by a reporter with the Star Tribune

During the disciplinary hearing Wednesday, MacDonald was questioned about her claim in her lawsuit that Brodkorb defamed her by falsely reporting that she had been convicted of DUI and that the conviction had been upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

MacDonald stated Wednesday, as she had in her complaint against Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, that this claim was based entirely on a tweet published by Brodkorb on February 16, 2016.

Brodkorb denied sending this Tweet during his testimony Wednesday was consistent with an affidavit filed in Ramsey County District Court during ligation related to MacDonald’s complaint.

MacDonald and her attorney announced they had evidence of the tweet during the hearing. But it was later revealed that MacDonald was again presenting an exhibit she first filed with her appellate brief in the underlying litigation. 

The tweet MacDonald displayed in the hearing was not authored or published by Brodkorb, but by David Chanen, a reporter for the Star Tribune

Brodkorb further testified that he accurately reported that MacDonald was not convicted of a DWI and that if she had concerns about the tweet sent by Chanen, she should have addressed it with him. 

Attorneys distance themselves from MacDonald’s lawsuit

Two attorneys who worked with MacDonald while she was on probation distanced themselves from MacDonald’s lawsuit in their testimony.

Bill Sieben, who served as MacDonald’s probation supervisor, testified that he didn’t review MacDonald’s lawsuit against Brodkorb, saying the lawsuit “seems political, not professional.”

Larry Frost had previously stated that he had not reviewed MacDonald’s lawsuit for “factual accuracy” and yesterday, he testified that it wasn’t his role to tell MacDonald if her lawsuit was “bad tactics.”

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

Justice Paul 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.

Aside from being a repeated 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.”

The disciplinary process against MacDonald will continue over the coming weeks, as Senior Judge McKinsey is scheduled to release her findings and recommendations for discipline by October 20, 2020.

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.

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

MacDonald’s disciplinary hearing scheduled for Wednesday

A court hearing will be held next Wednesday on the petition for disciplinary action filed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility against Michelle MacDonald, who is a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The hearing is scheduled for September 16, 2020, at 9 AM and will be conducted online through Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Senior Judge E. Anne McKinsey was appointed in June by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea as the referee to hear the petition for disciplinary action against MacDonald.

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.

Both Brodkorb and Mann have been subpoenaed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility to testify at the hearing. 

In total, the petition from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility details 14 violations by MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys and 7 violations of her probation by which she can practice law in Minnesota. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

15-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 15 months ago after Missing in Minnesota filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to MacDonald filing a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against 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 Missing in Minnesota was dismissed in March by a judge in Ramsey County. MacDonald is appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

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. Continue reading

MN Supreme Court referee: ‘indefinitely’ suspend MacDonald’s lawyer

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court has recommended that Karlowba R. Adams Powell, who serves as Michelle MacDonald’s attorney in her lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota, should be “indefinitely suspended” from the practice of law.

The recommendation by Judge Richard C. Perkins comes after a two-day hearing was held in July about a petition filed last December with the Minnesota Supreme Court by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

In the petition, the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility requested a court order revoking Adams Powell’s probation, suspending her law license, or “imposing otherwise appropriate discipline…” based on “unprofessional conduct” by Adams Powell. The petition claimed Adams Powell made false statements to the court, and others, including staff with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, that she engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, that she failed to provide receipts for cash payments, and that she failed to “safeguard client funds.”

According to today’s court filing, this is the fourth disciplinary proceeding for “professional misconduct” involving Adams Powell.

Judge Perkins was blunt in describing Adams Powell’s lack of candor: “[w]hile a misstatement made only once may be a mistake, being stated in writing twice and the again under oath at a deposition demonstrates a disregard for the truth.”

In the final pages, Judge Perkins wrote that Adams Powell “refused to acknowledge her misconduct, exhibited no remorse for her misconduct, and failed to offer any evidence or assurance that she will not engage in similar future misconduct.” Judge Perkin’s added that “[i]n a case about candor to a court … [Adams Powell] displayed a lack of candor with this court during her own testimony.” Continue reading

Yearlong investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The yearlong 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 last year after Missing in Minnesota filed a formal complaint with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility in response to MacDonald filing a “frivolous and vexatious” lawsuit against 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 Missing in Minnesota was dismissed in March by a judge in Ramsey County. MacDonald is appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit.

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. Continue reading

Ten-month investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility’s investigation into alleged violations by Michelle MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys has entered its tenth month, according to a letter from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

The ten-month 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.

The lawsuit filed by MacDonald against Missing in Minnesota was dismissed last month by a judge in Ramsey County.

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. Continue reading

Michelle MacDonald’s lawsuit against Missing in Minnesota dismissed

A judge in Ramsey County today dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Michelle MacDonald against Michael Brodkorb and Missing in Minnesota. 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 an interview for Minnesota Lawyer, Brodkorb said the ruling from today from Judge Kyle was that further evidence that MacDonald’s lawsuit “should have never been filed in the first place.” Continue reading

Seven-month investigation by lawyers board into MacDonald continues

The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility’s investigation into alleged violations by Michelle MacDonald of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct governing licensed attorneys has entered its seventh month, according to a letter from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility.

The seven-month 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 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