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Monday, November 9, 2020

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Indiana Woman Being Gaslighted by the System

    (Cover of the movie from 1944 Gaslight)

Noreen "Rene" Connolly is being gaslighted. 

Noreen lives in Cedar Lake, Indiana, a town of nearly thirteen thousand people and about 140 miles northwest of Indianapolis. In other words, it's not the setting one would expect for such a story. 

Her ex-husband has a documented history of stalking and abuse; she was attacked in her home in 2017 and her home was set on fire in 2019.

Despite this she has been blamed and suspected, the incidents have been used against her, to take away her kids and other things. 

Below is a temporary order from March 6, 2019, from the judge in the case, Thomas Hallett, using the fire, and her being suspected, as a reason to temporarily take her kids. 

March 6 2019 Order to Keep ... by mikekvolpe

In it, the order states, "The Court finds that an emergency exists due to the fact:  
                                                 A) That Wife's residence burnt down on March 2, 2019. 
                                                 B) The circumstances of the fire are under investigation
                                                 C) Wife does not have a permanent residence
                                                 D) Wife has previously made statements concerning her desire to burn down 
                                                  the home.

The order continued, "Husband shall have temporary physical custody of the minor children...Wife shall have parenting 
time as agreed for three hours in duration to be exercised in a public place agreed upon by the parties."

I asked Rene if she feels gas-lighted.

"Yes, I do," she responded. 

I have described gaslighting as "driving someone crazy and then calling them crazy."

A more formal definition is, "an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim - having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception."

Gaslighting, for those who don't know, is from the famous 1944 film Gaslight starring Ingrid Bergman as a woman 
driven to madness by her husband. Here is one scene. 

Connolly's ex-husband has a rap sheet which goes back at least to 2016 when he was charged with invasion of privacy. 

In that case, Connolly's ex-husband continued to send threatening text messages to her cell phone even after she got a protective order. 

I sent an email to Russell Brown, the attorney who represented Connolly's ex, but Brown did not respond. 

Below, is one police report which led to the charges.

15CL4128.PDF Invasion of Pr... by mikekvolpe

Her ex-husband's harassment would continue long after he was charged.

18CL0060 Chief Coulson (Left) by mikekvolpe

Despite all this, the couple initially shared custody- 50/50- when the divorce started in December 2016. 

That continued until Rene found herself with a zip tie around her neck in her home in June 2017. 

Rene told me she woke up with this zip tie around her neck; the investigation proved fruitless and no arrests were made. The police report is below.

Police Report Zip Tie Attac... by mikekvolpe

Department of Child Service became involved and remarkably, on a temporary basis,  Rene's ex received temporary physical custody while Rene received supervised visits, much like what will happen in 2019 when her house was set on fire. 

By the end of 2017, 50/50 was restored, after DCS cleared Rene. 

Then, on March 2, 2019, Rene's house was set on fire. 

She told me she was just entering the bath tub when she smelled smoke and raced out of the house. 

Witness statements taken at the scene, confirm this, as neighbors describe her running half naked out of her house. 

Police Report House 19CL0940_clinv3!2!19 (1) by mikekvolpe on Scribd

Here is what a neighbor described, "{the neighbor} could hear screaming and things 

"When {the neighbor} went outside he saw Noreen Connolly running around wrapped in a 

Still, police immediately drew suspicion to Rene. First, her ex-husband, who 
happened to arrive as officers and fire also arrived at the scene, suggested 
that Rene had previously threatened to set the house on fire.

"In this e-mail, dated February 28th, 2019, it was discussed that there have been monthly NIPSCO bills over $1000.00 for the last couple of months at the house, mostly due to electric usage." The police report stated. "This pointed out that the house is heated by gas, so the furnace shouldn't be the cause of the high electric bill. This e-mail also talks about the possibility of recent domestic violence incidents between Noreen and her daughter. The e-mail also talks about Noreen making threats that she was going to burn down her home."

Police also suggested that Rene was uncooperative. "Noreen Connolly was not talking to anyone and would not answer any questions, even basic questions like possible occupants of the house...Noreen again refused to discuss with Chief Nick Majer and referred then to having a lawyer present."  

Rene told me she was in shock and remembers little of that night. 

I reached out to Cedar Lake Police Chief Bill Fisher. While acknowledging the email, Chief Fisher did not provide a formal statement before this was published. Chief Fisher was not the chief when these events occurred. 

With suspicion drawn to her, the judge- whose name again is Judge Thomas Hallett- was driven to act in an emergency fashion with the temporary order I already showed. 

The fire was then investigated by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS). Report here. 

After months of investigation IDHS came to no conclusion: saying the cause of the fire was undetermined. 

IDHS did not comment on this investigation, but did provide me with an explanation of what falls under undetermined and other categories. 

  • Undetermined – a fire may remain undetermined if there is too much damage to identify a cause, or if all other sources cannot be ruled out.
  • Accidental
  • Natural – started by lightening or some other natural phenomenon.
  • Incendiary – this classification is used for all fires caused by human behavior, whether on purpose or accidental. Arson is a subset of incendiary, and is typically classified as such by prosecutors, rather than fire investigated.

In December 2019, the judge issued his final order. It is below, but largely mirrors the temporary order.

Divorce Decree Issued 12-13-19 (1) by mikekvolpe on Scribd

The judge exhibited all sorts of bias, if you ask Rene; that's certainly what a judicial complaint she filed stated. That's below. 

Jud Qual Complaint Form by mikekvolpe

I reached out to Judge Hallett's chambers but received no response. I also reached out to Mindy Heidel, Rene's exes divorce attorney but also received no response. 

Besides that, the case featured two Guardian ad Litem (GAL), the court bureaucrat who is supposed to represent the child's best interest (which is already the court's job).

Dr. Jill Miller, of Northwest Psychological Services, has several letters behind her name: Psy.D., HSPP, LCAC, according to her website

Meanwhile, DeMange is an attorney practicing with the law firm, Tanzillo, Stassin and Babcock. 

Miller did not respond to my email, while DeMange did answer a call but refused to answer any questions, citing strict privacy rules- which there are- about all she'd confirm is that she was a lawyer. 

It is interesting that Miller is a psychologist while DeMange is an attorney but both are qualified to be GAL's.

I asked DeMange about that as well, but she politely told me this  was research I could do on my own.

According to the Indiana government website, "Indiana law requires the appointment of either a guardian ad litem or a trained court appointed special advocate in abuse and neglect cases. Moreover, if a child becomes the subject of a petition to terminate the parent/child relationship and the parent objects, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem or CASA for the child. In addition to the abuse and neglect cases, Indiana law allows for and Indiana courts are now frequently appointing CASA volunteers in custody and paternity cases."

The program merely requires certification, according to the Indiana government website. 

According to the website for the law firm, Cohen and Malad, here is what's required to become a GAL.

"Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney or trained volunteer appointed by the court to represent a child’s best interests in cases involving juvenile delinquency, child abuse, or neglect. In many of these cases, the court has determined that a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) needs a neutral representative that can assess the situation and provide a recommendation to the court.

"People who serve as court-appointed GALs must go through a thorough training process before they can volunteer. GAL training consists of education on a variety of topics such as the identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect as well as early childhood and adolescent development. One portion of the training also includes information related to how the attorney GAL represents children."

One interesting tidbit, according to this legal website, is that Indiana law defines a GAL as a "volunteer", but I doubt either DeMange or Miller were doing this for free. 

In fact, throughout the country, lawyers, psychologists, and social workers, make a great living being appointed a GAL to cases. 

Indeed the same website, states in Indiana, "Indiana law allows the trial court to assess the Guardian Ad Litem’s fee against one or both child’s parents.  The fees vary from county to county.  Some counties, such as Hamilton County, Indiana, have programs that are funded by the county or grants that will pay for the GAL.  But even in those counties, the parties may be required to reimburse the Guardian Ad Litem for their work.  Or the Court can require the parties to pay a user fee."

Both Dr. Miller and Ms. DeMange recommended that Rene's ex be awarded physical custody; GAL recommendations are supposed to weigh heavily in the judicial decision making process. 

Post Script

This is the last of four articles I'm doing in conjunction with a new organization entitled FIRST4. FIRST4 hopes to build software which would make activists aware whenever a child is taken by CPS anywhere in the US because the first four hours in the system are the most critical. The first article is here; the second article is here, and the third article is here

Explaining Northwest Chicago’s Web Of Radicals

 The article is here. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

St. Louis County Courts Target Women

I have spoken with approximately ten people who describe an atmosphere in St. Louis County courts where due process is routinely violated, bias is shown, dogma is favored over facts, and this targeting is primarily against women. 

Patty Fish

Find an interview with Fish below.  

Fish tells an amazing story in which her ex-husband forged her signature on multiple mortgage loan documents on a property she owned herself- this property even had a spousal waiver- but this loan was still allowed to go through and numerous Missouri courts- including at least one Appeals Court- found against her. 

In fact, Christine Bertelson, the Missouri courts public affairs officer, told me as much about this case, "{Fish's ex} and Patricia Fish were defendants in the mortgage case. Judgment was entered on 12/12/18 against both defendants after a multi-day bench trial. The judge made a number of findings of fact. See 13SL-CC03334. The court of appeals affirmed at 600 SW3d 273."

Fish tells me that her ex-husband was charged criminally but, after a five year court process was found not guilty and that not guilty verdict was used as leverage against her in lawsuits.

Fish also tells me that the judge who presided over his criminal trial, Judge Nancy Watkins McLoughlin, also presided over one of her civil trials. 

Judge McLoughlin determined that Fish's ex-husband had been given authority based on a few emails and purported phone calls even though the Missouri statute is clear that it requires a formal power of attorney. 

Find Fish's summary of the case below.

Nightmare in St Louis Count... by mikekvolpe

Fish's case has one more interesting tidbit, the appearance of Elaine Pudlowski, who was Fish's ex-husband's divorce attorney. 

Fish told me it was Pudlowski who initially told him to say that Patty somehow authorized him to make this loan. 

Pudlowski comes up numerous times; she declined to comment when I reached her by email. 

Pudlowski and 50/50

In this interview below, listen to one woman describe how her child made disclosures that her ex was molesting them. Pudlowski became the GAL in 2017. This woman said a previous GAL had already been threatened by another GAL that any more disclosures could lead to her losing custody. Full interview below.  
"She hired a custody evaluator for the case. She gave this custody evaluator all the information on the parties. She picked and chose what she decided to hand to him. There was a CAC that was taking place with my child in a  DSS investigation." This woman said. "She watched a video of  my son disclose in full detail because he was a lot older at the time, about what was happening to him, and she turned around in the courtroom and stated her opinion rather than the professional who does this for a living."

The Lawsuit

Pudlowski is also a defendant in a recently filed lawsuit. 

I received a fair amount of communication about this lawsuit; this included a press release from a group calling itself Daily Docket News which stated in part, 

It has been a national scandal for decades in which family courts systematically failed to protect our minor children from physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse by predatory parents. What is equally scandalous is the silence on the coverage of this unimaginable issue. Daily Docket News is dedicated to shine light on the grave injustices taking place in the family court “Swamp”, in the State of Missouri.

Daily Docket News is investigating the allegations raised by Tolu vs. James D. Reid, Ph.D., Elaine Pudlowski, Esq. & Jennifer Webbe Van Luven, LCSW, et al.Case No. 20SL-CC04680 filed in the Saint Louis County Circuit Court. A scandal appears to be brewing in this case, where Tolu, a former child custody litigant, is suing the court appointed forensic evaluator, James D. Reid, Ph.D. with the firm of James D. Reid, Ph.D., LLC, the court appointed guardian ad litem, Elaine Pudlowski, Esq. with the law firm of Frankel, Rubin, Klein, Siegel, Payne & Pudlowski, P.C. and the court appointed therapist, Jennifer Webbe Van Luven, LCSW with West County Psychological Associates. It is alleged that all three are involved in a horrific scheme, “Kids for Cash”, that benefited a predatory parent and exploited vulnerable minor children.

The full lawsuit is below. 

Tolu v. Reid et al by mikekvolpe

Pudlowski is accused of not following proper protocols, not completing her work, and other malfeasance. 

As with other cases, abuse was allegedly covered up in this case. 

I reached out to the attorney representing the plaintiff and he provided a statement. Part of it is below. 

When we hear horrific stories of children being separated from their parents at the border, my heart bleeds. We commend people for trying to feed and find relatives and family members for the children in distress at our borders. We hear these stories every day. There is a lot of attention given to the social injustice surrounding the children separated from their parents. 

These heart-breaking stories immediately take me to my personal story. My children were not taken away from me at the border. My children were taken away from me by the Saint Louis Family Court and with absolutely no factual basis. I do not drink and am not an alcoholic. I do not do drugs and am not a drug addict. I do not have a criminal record. I work seven days a week. I pay my taxes. I volunteer at church. I donate to the food pantry. I help elderly who are frail or who have no family members around to help them with daily necessities like translating their letters from Russian to English, writing letters for them in English, taking them to a doctor, calling a nurse for them, taking them to a grocery store, running to a pharmacy, or helping to fix their internet or telephone issues. I volunteer for two nonprofits.

Find the full statement below. 


Tolu Personal Statement 10-... by mikekvolpe

I interviewed several other people, some of who also had Pudlowski, but they did not name her.


One other theme I heard was that St. Louis courts adhered to the 50/50 dogma. 50/50 or shared parenting argues that the best custody arrangement is for parents who split to share custody equally. With that, child support is often not required. 

This dogma often ignores abuse. It was something I described in my 2015 article Making Divorce Pay.

All proponents of equal parenting always make a caveat for cases of abuse, but the climate created by other AFCC-supported theories makes proving abuse nearly impossible.

Take Charles Paclik’s divorce, which started in Illinois in 2006. After his ex-wife moved to California, the jurisdiction for the divorce moved with her. He didn’t see his two children for more than three years from 2007-2010 at the behest of the court, and four AFCC-trained social workers: Lucinda Beall, Laura Wittenberg, Stuart Lord, and Mary Jo Dierickx. Then his 14-year-old son from a previous marriage testified in court that his stepmother was physically abusing him and his two half-brothers. After that testimony, the court ruled Paclik and his ex-wife should have shared parenting. He lost primary contact with his children again after his wife’s move to an adjacent county in 2013 triggered another custody fight. Paclik’s custody continues to be litigated nine years after it began.

Below, listen to one St. Louis County woman describe how her ex-husband was convicted of a crime similar to child endangerment but then she was forced into a 50/50 arrangement.  

I asked Ms. Bertelson about this tendency on settling on 50/50 and she replied, "I cannot comment on blanket assertions about the court."

Other Victims

I spoke with several other victims as well. Below is a two part interview with another St. Louis County woman who lost custody after bringing forward child molestation allegations. 


 Hazardous Drugs 

In this story, a St. Louis County woman describes how she was possibly exposed to hazardous chemicals and this was covered up.

"My case was turned around based on a psychological evaluation that was done and everything was focused on mental health and all of the facts were completely dismissed. The psychological evaluation was fabricated, not based on the actual evaluation data, but based on my exes hearsay. I was then diagnosed with a mental disorder, which became the focus of the case."

She was diagnosed with delusional disorder, arguing that she was making up the allegations that she was exposed to hazardous chemicals. 

Find the whole interview below. 
More Child Molestation Disclosures Covered Up

In this interview, another St. Louis woman describes how she brought forward child molestation allegations only to have the courts cover them up. 

A Man Speaks

I also spoke with a man who described how the court catered to his ex-wife and ignored how his child began to devolve after being forced to move schools. 

Post Script

This is the second of four articles I'm doing in conjunction with a new organization entitled FIRST4. FIRST4 hopes to build software which would make activists aware whenever a child is taken by CPS anywhere in the US because the first four hours in the system are the most critical. The first article is here; the second article is here


Please check out the article I did which followed up this one on St. Louis County courts: Elaine Pudlowski, their Kids for Cash scheme, and more players are mentioned. 

How LCDA Helped Get California Legislation Passed

 The article is here. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

New Book on AFCC: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

 A link to buy the book can be found here. 

I wrote about the same group- AFCC- in 2015. That article is here

Friday, October 23, 2020

Inexplicable ruling leads to Tennessee mother being kept away from her daughter for months

(Judge Carma Dennis McGee, sworn in, from Tennessee Judiciary website)

 A tyrannical ruling by a Tennessee judge triggered events leading to a mother not seeing her son for over a year, but that's only the beginning of the story. 

Myra Horan spoke exclusively with me about her story. She hasn't seen her son since police took him out of her arms in August 2019.

The police came because she violated the order below. 

As she explained to me, there is a lot more to this story, and it includes a reckless ruling by a judge who did not give reasoning for that decision. 

Myra and her ex began their divorce proceedings the summer 2016, when their son was five. 

She and her ex-husband mutually agreed to a plan in 2016 without a judge which split custody equally. That plan worked relatively well until her ex met what would be his new wife and wanted to move to Idaho.

He asked the judge for permission to modify their custody arrangement and move to Idaho. 

The case came in front of Judge Carma Dennis McGee. At the time Judge McGee was the chancellor for the Twenty-Fourth District Chancery Court in Tennessee, according to the website BallotPedia. 

She is now a judge on the Tennessee Court of Appeals. 

A trial on his request was held on December 10, 2018, and her opinion was issued later that month. That opinion is below. 

Judge Opinion 2018.12.27 (2) by mikekvolpe

Not only did Judge McGee grant Myra's ex his request to move, she made him the primary residence and even assigned some of Myra's custody time to be spent in Idaho. 

"Mother will have parenting time with the parties' minor child one weekend per month from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m. to be exercised in the State of Idaho," Judge McGee stated in her order. 

Furthermore, while Myra was a stay at home mom at the time, she was still order to pay more than $250 per month in child support. 

This occurred through a process called imputing income in which courts are allowed to assign income to people which they don't actually make in order to calculate income. 

Worst of all, Judge McGee did not provide any reason for her decision. While both parents were deemed loving and not engaging in abuse or neglect, she simply granted his request without explanation. 

"It is undisputed that both parties love their son, and the child loves both parents," Judge McGee's ruling stated, while continuing, "Both parties have provided for the children's daily necessities while in his or her respective care."

The judge also noted, "The parties have cared for the child equally for a period of fourteen months since their divorce (April through December, 2018 and April through August, 2017). Father was the child's primary caregiver for seven months (September, 2017, through March, 2018). Mother was the child's primary caregiver for three months (from January through March, 2017). Based upon these time periods, Father has been the primary caregiver for a greater time period since the parties' divorce. Therefore, this factor weighs in favor of relocation with Father."

Indeed, the judge went through eighteen factors; these are the factors which the Tennessee code, according to Judge McGee's ruling, requires examining. 

The majority of the factors weighed in neither's favor; the father had more factors weigh in his favor, but a couple more. 

A move thousands of miles away is supposed to be only done with clear and convincing evidence. As Judge McGee said in her ruling, "With the parents living such a great distance from each other, the child will have to visit with the alternate residential parent in large blocks of time, and probably have to travel by airplane."

Myra also told me that the Judge McGee was buoyed by the faulty recommendations of Sherry Pritchett, who was their son's counselor and testified.

In Judge McGee's ruling she noted, "During the counseling period, the child has expressed on some occasions that he wants to relocate to Idaho and sometimes that he wishes to stay in Tennessee."

A recording tells something quite different. 


 In the recording, her son says he wants to live with his mom. As such, conclusions from Pritchett like this, "Ms. Pritchett stated that the child appears niore comfortable with Fathar than with the Mother," are also suspect. 

I reached out to Ms. Pritchett but received no response. 

Also, in Judge McGee's ruling, Myra's ex was painted as needing to move to Idaho for better job prospects. 

" Father had no income between August, 2017 and December, 2017. He stated that he could not work during that time because he had lo care for both of his children and could not travel for his job. In Idaho, he believes that he will be able to drive to and from work rather than have to stay away from home."

In his testimony, the father states his current job situation is good. See screenshot below. 

Taken together, Judge McGee twisted enough facts to make what would normally seem like an obscene ruling seem reasonable. 

Myra said she struggled adjusting to the new ruling and it was this desperation which led her to withhold her son in August 2019. 

Once that happened, her ex went to a different Tennessee court which granted him an order for protection and that order has kept her son away from her since. 

Myra has also been active on Facebook. Find her Facebook page here

Recently, when she shared a Facebook memory with her son she stated, "And now he sleeps 2,000 miles away and I’m not even allowed to communicate with him cause’ his dad commits felonies. Like perjury, fraud, kidnapping."

One other post is below.

“Not only for the present, but for the future”
This right here should have protected {her son} and I from my ex, his dad.
Digging through some things today.
The state of Tennessee violated the contract, aided in litigation abuse and committed crimes of human trafficking.
While I've seen many victimized parents post similar things, Myra's ex took exception and is now arguing it is a form of harassment. See below. 

Now living in Idaho, Myra's ex got this heard in that state; the hearing was supposed to be by Zoom on October 20, 2020 at 4:30PM Mountain Time. The audio of the hearing is below. 

The judge who heard it was Judge Robert Crowley, a magistrate or junior judge. 

Because Judge Crowley started about twenty minutes late, the hearing was rescheduled.

It seems the hearing attracted some attention. More than ten people appeared ready to testify on Myra's behalf; her ex had no witnesses besides himself. The hearing also attracted my attention and so, if he thought this would silence Myra, the attempted order for protection may have created more attention toward the matter. 

Furthermore, the hearing was sealed; I found this curious however staff say that it is policy at least in this particular courthouse to seal all protective order matters because they are sensitive. 

Myra told me she sees this as her ex taking away her first amendment rights after taking her son away from her. 

She is currently living with her boyfriend and they are raising their child; she said she can't afford an attorney and feels that spending money to fight this legal battle would take money and resources from the child she is raising. 

I reached out to Judge McGee and the Tennessee courts but received no response. 

Find an interview I did with Myra below. 


 Post Script
This is the second of four articles I'm doing in conjunction with a new organization entitled FIRST4. FIRST4 hopes to build software which would make activists aware whenever a child is taken by CPS anywhere in the US because the first four hours in the system are the most critical. 

Find the first article here

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Minnesota BAR Goes After Minnesota Supreme Court Candidate Michelle MacDonald

(Michelle MacDonald from her Facebook page)

 The public got a unique look at the sausage, so to speak, of corruption being made in the Minnesota legal system. 

On September 16, 2020, the Minnesota Bar held a disciplinary hearing against Minnesota attorney Michelle MacDonald.

Michelle and I wrote the book "Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial."

Michelle has been practicing as an attorney for nearly forty years and she never had any problems until she took up the Rucki case.

Since then, she was stopped by police for drunk driving despite later having no alcohol in her system, already suspended by the Bar once, detained for a full day without being charged, and even called a "person of interest" in a crime by certain people

She is currently running for Minnesota Supreme Court in November 2020 and this hearing appeared timed so that it can be smeared against her during the campaign. 

The first time Michelle was disciplined by the Board, it was for petty issues. Minneapolis Star Tribune describes it in more detail, "The Supreme Court’s suspension pointed to many instances of professional misconduct by MacDonald, including in 2013 when she interrupted a Dakota County judge in open court dozens of times, questioned the judge’s ability to be objective, failed to properly prepare for a court appearance, took photographs in court and other disruptive behavior that led to her arrest."

First the incident they are referring to occurred in 2013 but for unknown reasons the Minnesota Bar waited until 2018 to take action. 

The Bar blamed Michelle for being handcuffed and wheeled in and forced to conduct part of a custody trial, that of the Rucki children, handcuffed to a wheelchair. In the video below, at 1:10:00 she is wheeled in and proceedings continue shortly after that. 


Also, the judge who presided over the case, David Knutson, initially brought forward the complaint, something judges generally do not do. 

This is important because this latest complaint in 2020 was also triggered by Judge David Knutson. 

It turns out that Judge Knutson was listening to WCCO, a Minnesota radio station, when Michelle MacDonald, then also a candidate for Minnesota Supreme Court, came on a show called "Midday" with Blois Olsen.

The broadcast occurred on October 3, 2018. 

Olson asked MacDonald about the Rucki case and she mentioned Judge Knutson, "Um, the children had run away. So that, that was a civil rights violation even before that happened," MacDonald said. "I have on behalf of Sandra sued the presiding judge. His name was David Knutson and I sued him in federal court. That suit was pending, um, when she was having her custody trial that event occurred."

Michelle is referring to herself being handcuffed to the wheelchair. 

She continued, "Both of their rights were violated the court. What the public needs to be aware of is that I got involved- and I did the case pro bono- is that Sandra came to me and both she and her um= the father not her husband at the time- had no contact with their children whatsoever. Um the judge did that in September of 2012, without any hearing, without any process, and in two hours ordered her, she was already divorced, to leave her home, leave her children there, whom she had custody of, five of them, and ordered her not to return or she'd be arrested."

In fact, Judge Knutson's order said exactly that. It's below. 

G168-1201-0006 by mikekvolpe

This order was signed after a telephonic conference, not a hearing, which neither parent attended. That's below.

G168-1201-0669 by mikekvolpe

That is actually the only references to Judge Knutson but he still saw fit to file a complaint. The whole interview is below. 

Judge Knutson previously had the Dakota County Sheriff's investigate a Twitter account which was critical of him. He was recently in the news on another matter as well; he just gave an unusually light sentence to a woman who nearly killed a toddler; she is to serve less than one year in jail, based on Knutson's light sentence.  

In this case, after Judge Knutson filed a complaint, the board appears to have taken its time again. Though the interview- along with two other complaints- all were of things which occurred in 2018 or earlier, discipline was not brought until 2020. 

Normally, such a disciplinary hearing would be held behind closed doors, but in this case, it was streamed live and the marathon session, two parts, is below. 

The hearing centered on three things. First it was the interview which the Bar argued impugned Judge Knutson's integrity. 

Second, Michelle had a dispute with a client where he may have paid $50 more than he should have. 

Finally, she filed a lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb for defamation which the board considers frivolous and since she was required to do due diligence during her probation this would violate her probation. 

If this seems petty, it's because it is. 

In the case of the client, he was a walk-in, a slip and fall, who asked her to look at his case. Michelle agreed to open the file for $50 and then charged him $500 to review it. 

That's what the review agreement states and her client even agreed this is what it states. 

The bar, through their attorney Keshini Ratnayake, argued that the $500 was a "flat fee" which it was characterized as, and that in Minnesota a flat fee means the only fee. 

Michelle noted that the $50 fee was also noted on the agreement and that she charged it first. 

There was a question over what her client understood and when he actually got the agreement, but this dispute goes no further. 

Ms. Ratnayake, in her opening remarks, said that Michelle's transgression against Judge Knutson was most significant because she'd already been found guilty by the Board of a similar transgression.

"The most serious misconduct Your Honor will learn about today is that in October of 2018, as a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court, Ms. MacDonald spoke on a radio program and repeated her false statements about the integrity of a judge, the same judge who was involved in her previous case."

During the hearing Ms. Ratnayake argued that in the September 5, 2012, hearing, Ms. Grazzini-Rucki was represented by counsel, thereby giving it process presumably.

Many people outside the law profession would be surprised to learn that lawyers are very limited in the things they can say about judges.

In fact, here is the rule from the American Bar Association (ABA).

A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

Ms. Ratnayake's argument, thereby, is that by saying Judge David Knutson provided her client no due process, she was recklessly disregarding the truth and impugning his reputation."

As Michelle testified, on September 5, 2012, Judge David Knutson held a telephonic conference without either parent present. No testimony was taken, as no witnesses were called, but at this conference, it was decided that SGR would be forcefully removed from her home and the five Rucki children's paternal aunt would move in. SGR was notified on September 7, in the order above, and given three hours to vacate the house or be arrested. 

Judge Knutson's order was temporary, making it nearly impossible to appeal. 

This, presumably, is what Ms. Ratnayake refers to as due process; I asked but she did not respond to an email. 

Finally, Ms. Ratnayake accused Michelle of filing a frivolous lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb, who owns the website Missing in Minnesota."

Michelle lost her lawsuit when it was dismissed as a summary judgment, and an appeal's court upheld this decision. 

One dispute revolves around Brodkorb's repeatedly referring to Michelle as a "person of interest" in the 2013 disappearance of the two Rucki girls; the girls were found in 2015 and four people were found guilty; Michelle was never suspected or charged. 

I say she was never suspected because she previously played a recording of a phone conversation between her and a Lakeville Police Officer, Jason Polinski. Here is part of our book, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial.

I contacted Stahl immediately and read him the riot act. I told him that I was cooperating and he had no right to call me a “person of interest” just because I was Sandra’s lawyer. He has not done so since.

I didn’t know it at the time but Dronen had been in charge of the case since 2014. Not once had he contacted me or Sandra in all that time. Yet Dronen suggested “it was virtually the only one he worked on,” according to a blog post on the case.

The last and only time I spoke with the Lakeville Police Department, shortly before this book was published, they were wishy washy as to whether or not I was a suspect.

I asked Lieutenant Jason Polinski if I was a “person of interest” because a local blogger Michael Brodkorb had repeatedly used that term. When I called Brodkorb out on it as defamatory, he said the Lakeville police labeled me as a “person of interest”, it was reported by “numerous outlets” since April 2015 and he could not remove a label he didn’t assign, saying that “even if the label is removed, it is still accurate to report that you were labeled a ‘person of interest’ in this case.” Brodkorb refused to take down his posts or reveal his source. 

The Stahl refers to Brandon Stahl of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who stated that Michelle was a "person of interest" in one article in 2015. In fact, it was only reported that one time by Stahl and then repeatedly reported by Brodkorb. 

As we explain, once contacted, Stahl stopped. Brodkorb is the only one, especially in 2020, still referring to her as a "person of interest" which is not an official police term. 

In fact, Dr. Steven Hatfill, who was referred to the FBI as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks and later won millions for the false label. 

Second, Michelle objected to an unflattering photo which Brodkorb often posted, which he claimed was a booking photo. A still of Michelle holding the photo during the hearing is below. 

This is of course unlike any other booking photo or mugshot. A mugshot is below. 

Once again, Brodkorb argued that law enforcement provided him this mugshot and it was law enforcement who referred to it as a mugshot. 

Michelle said there could not have been a mugshot since when she was detained on September 13, 2013, while she was held for approximately a day, she was never booked and allowed to leave without being booked. 

This led to a bizarre exchange where Ms. Ratnayake said, "I know it is your opinion you were never booked..." but then arguing since Brodkorb asked for a booking photo and said this is what was provided, this meant she was booked and had a booking photo. 

Finally, Michelle argued that Brodkorb would put the photo above in blog posts next to the photos of everyone who was convicted in the case- Dede Evavold, :Doug Dahlen, Gina Dahlen, and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki- and this she argued was defamation by implication. More on this legal term here

Finally, Michelle said that Brodkorb falsely accused her of a DUI. She was never convicted of a DUI; she was convicted of obstruction, even though she was stopped for being suspected of a DUI, and later found to have had no alcohol. Somehow, the court found she obstructed the fruitless investigation into her non-existent DUI. 

Everyone agreed that she was not convicted of a DUI; Michelle argued that Brodkorb falsely accused her of it in a tweet; Brodkorb testified and provided an affidavit saying he never did any such thing. 

For Michelle's strongest evidence, she provided a screenshot from her phone of this tweet. It's below. 

(screenshot presented from Michelle's phone of what appears to be a tweet)

Brodkorb acknowledged that @mbrodkorb is his twitter account. RT generally means retweet, so it does appear as though he is retweeting the false tweet from a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter named David Chanen whose twitter handle is @chanenstrib. 

Brodkorb testifies to this in the last seventeen minutes of the second part of the hearing. 

Brodkorb said he did not know where Michelle got this but that he did not find any such tweet and said he was sticking with his testimony that he never tweeted this out. 

From this it appears Ms. Ratnayake claims that the lawsuit was frivolous. 

The Appeal Michelle filed is below.

B383-1601-0153 by mikekvolpe on Scribd

Below is what I sent to her and Judge Knutson by email: neither responded. 

At about 42 minutes here, you say, "I know it is your opinion you were never booked," on September 13, 2013. I think she would know if she was booked. about 1:10:00 you will see Ms. MacDonald wheeled in handcuffed and chained to a wheelchair. That is from September 13, 2013. That's no opinion. 

Here's an opinion based on fact. Judge David Knutson was bribed in this case. That means you are defending someone as honorable who took a bribe.

Now, if he didn't take a bribe, why do you think David Rucki got 100%, plus child support and alimony, plus sole custody? Why do you think a lawyer was forced to conduct part of this trial handcuffed to a wheelchair?

Knutson has people like you do his dirty work. I'm attaching a police report. This is him asking Dakota County Sheriff's to investigate a tweet. Anyone says something he doesn't like and Knutson can have them investigated.

Who do you think you are in this scenario? You're either a fool or budding to be as corrupt as him. I don't know which. Which is it 

Post Script 

This is the start of a four article series which is being done in conjunction with a new organization entitled FIRST4. FIRST4 hopes to build software which would make activists aware whenever a child is taken by CPS anywhere in the US because the first four hours in the system are the most critical.