“The rule of law was not adhered to and the entire trial was simulated litigation… ALL Judge Knutson’s orders are not merely voidable, these orders are already VOID.” ~ K.B. Complaint Against Judge Knutson
“Shame on you for allowing this family to be torn apart by your orders. Shame on you for forcing children into a relationship with a father they are terrified of. Shame on you for forcing these children to make the drastic decision to go on the run in order to protect themselves…In cases like this I have to wonder how our system got to the point that destroying families in today’s society is ok.” ~ L.M. letter to Judge David Knutson
(Hastings, Minn) A complaint filed against Judge David L. Knutson on September 4, 2013, outlines his mishandling of the Grazzini-Rucki case. The complaint also describes how Judge Knutson’s reckless actions contributed to ongoing chaos in the lives of the Rucki children, and deprived Sandra Grazzini-Rucki of her rights. The complaint concludes that Judge Knutson acted with malice, that there is no other reasonable explanation for his conduct.
According to the complaint, “The record on case no. 19AV-FA-11-1273 shows a disturbing pattern where throughout, Judge Knutson has engaged in multiple acts of misconduct and actual bias, has repeatedly violated parties rights, and consistently fails to follow the law…
Judge Knutson has repeatedly denied the mother (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki) any and all contact with her children without any findings of endangerment, abuse or parental unfitness. In addition, throughout this case, Judge Knutson has made absurd statements in an attempt to somehow justify abuses of discretion.“
The complaint accuses Judge Knutson of a “pervasive pattern of misconduct and impropriety” that includes:
-Bias, “acts for improper purpose to deny one party’s fundamental rights“
-Making false statements of material facts
-Failure to follow the law
-Failure to follow the children’s “Best Interest”
-That Judge Knutson ordered Sandra to use specific providers he hand selected under the guise of therapy; yet these providers do not provide therapy. Rather, they provide forensic evidence for use against the mother.
-Judge Knutson abused his authority by forcing Sandra, under the threat of arrest, to disclose her location and phone number to a known abuser (whom she received a protective order against). This directly contradicts a Minnesota law requiring judges to protect victims of stalking and abuse, and to prevent such disclosures of information to the abuser.
-Acting with malice
Read complaint in its entirety: Complaint Against Dakota County Judge David Knutson (Red Herring Alert)
On September 11, 2013, attorney Michelle MacDonald filed a Federal Civil Rights Action against Judge Knutson on behalf on Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.
The Grazzini-Rucki custody trial commenced one week after this complaint was filed, on September 12, 2013. Which means that Judge Knutson was under investigation while presiding over a case that he was accused of misconduct on. Judge Knutson was also presiding over a case while a Federal Civil Rights Action against him was pending.
At the beginning of trial, MacDonald asked Judge Knutson to recuse himself, which he refused to do stating, “With respect to you notifying me that I’ve been made party to some Federal lawsuit for civil rights violations, I’m not aware of that. I have no information about that. I’m not concerned about that. We’re going to proceed…” MacDonald presses on, reminding Judge Knutson that she wrote him a letter to inform him about the lawsuit. Judge Knutson’s initial response is evasive then he admits he did receive notice of the lawsuit, and recounts some details. Which means Judge Knutson is caught lying in court. Judge Knutson refuses to recuse himself, and moves forward with trial stating “I‘m not going to hold that against your client or prejudice your client for something you do” and states a Federal Civil Rights Action is “irrelevant“.
The Board of Judicial Standards responded on November 12, 2013, and determined, despite overwhelming evidence of each of these claims, that the complaint “required no further action“. The Board further determined that the allegations did not sway them to take disciplinary action because the merits were not proven with a “clear and convincing standard“. It is unclear if the Board was aware of Judge Knutson’s conduct during the custody trial.
The Civil Rights Action faced a similar fate, excusing Judge Knutson’s actions under the guide of judicial immunity.
On November 25, 2013, David Rucki is granted sole custody of all 5 children. At the time of the order he was on probation for a guilty plea involving an OFP violation (Case No. 19AV-CR-11-14682, discharged from probation 10/17/2014. Judge Karen Asphaug conducted pre-trial on that case).
On February 11, 2014, Judge Knutson filed a complaint against attorney Michelle MacDonald with the Lawyer’s Board. MacDonald said about the complaint, “Judge Knutson’s complaint came after I complained about to him to the Board of Judicial Standards about this: On September 12, 2013, Judge Knutson had me participate as an attorney in a client’s child custody trial in handcuffs, a wheelchair, with no shoes, no glasses, no paper, no pen, no files,missing children – and no client. This was the day after I had filed a federal civil rights action against him, on behalf of that client…” MNBar.org Michelle MacDonald Candidate Information A hearing was recently held concerning the complaint against MacDonald, a ruling has not been issued at the time of this blog post.
Judge Knutson now sits as a member on the Board of Judicial Standards. No one in the family court system has been held accountable for the disastrous results of the Grazzini-Rucki case despite numerous complaints being filed.
When abuse allegations, and concerns for the safety of the Rucki children, were raised in this case the Court’s focus was not on the welfare of the children but instead pursued a dangerous agenda. Instead of protecting the children from harm, Judge Knutson and the various professionals involved, inflicted of trauma on children to force reunification with the parent they feared by taking an “assertive stance..to expose them to the object of their fear” and to “desensitize them“. (Dr. Gilbertson Letter). The Court sought to silence by any means, the parent, Sandra, who sought to protect the children and thereby, stood in the way. The events that led up to the Rucki girls running away is a direct result of the court’s own failings.
Had Judge Knutson, the professionals, appropriately responded to abuse allegations raised by the Rucki children and worked to protect them, there might have been a different outcome than a family completely destroyed; and children who may never recover from the abuses inflicted on them.
For More Information: