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.
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.
That is actually the only references to Judge Knutson but he still saw fit to file a complaint. The whole interview is below.
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.
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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=ajBY_jcc2cA&t=21s 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. https://www. scribd.com/document/441542723/ By-the-Respondent#from_embedWho 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
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.