Judge Asphaug: Blogging More of a Safety Threat Than Frightening Neighbors, Intimidating Police

In yet another bizarre development of the Grazzini-Rucki case, David Rucki claims that blogging is a threat to his safety, and that of his minor children and filed for a restraining order against Dede Evavold, co-defendant in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial. It should be noted that Rucki’s petition for a harassment order (HRO) did not actually name or specify what blog had allegedly harassed or threatened him. The HRO did not provide any evidence that Evavold was responsible for owning any blog or that she had posted anything about Rucki on social media that constitutes the legal definition of harassment (per 609.748 Harassment Restraining Order).

Without proving actual harassment occurred, and in violation of Evavold’s freedom of speech, Judge Karen Asphaug granted a HRO against her that is effective for 2 years. Ex Parte HRO

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

There are numerous problems with the HRO granted … including Judge Asphaug’s prior role on a criminal case involving David Rucki, where she was instrumental in dismissing charges that involved physical threats and harassment that he committed against the neighbors. 

Another connection is that Judge Asphaug’s husband, David Warg, shares a close professional and social relationship with Judge Tim Wermager, the first judge to preside over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce. A local newspaper article covering the swearing in of Judge Wermager alludes to political alliance, and deals made on the golf course that influence the court system, and judiciary, in Dakota County. Are these forces also at play in the Grazzini-Rucki case?

Judge Asphaug Dismissed Prior Criminal Charge Against David Rucki Despite Overwhelming Evidence of Threats, Harassment

That Judge Karen Asphaug quickly issued a HRO against Dede Evavold with absolutely no evidence to support any of the claims made is a sharp contrast to the role she played in dismissing a serious charge of disorderly conduct against Rucki, that involved harassment and threats. Many of Rucki’s acts were targeted against children. The police report filed from this incident includes remarks from Rucki that suggest he knew that if criminal charges were filed, the court would rule in his favor.

On September 8, 2009, Rucki was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after threatening and harassing his neighbor and swearing at and threatening their children. Police responding to the complaint noted in their report that Rucki tried to intimidate them and referred to the neighbor as a “bitch”. Explosive Expose by Michael Volpe: Did judges in Sandra Grazzini-Rucki case previously fix husband’s cases?

Officer Michelle Roberts writes in her report,”Suspect (Rucki) told me that he didn’t have to listen to me. I advised him that if he would not allow me to question him regarding the specifics, I would have no choice but to charge him with disorderly conduct based on their allegations.

He stated,’Go ahead, it’s their word against mine and you can’t prove anything.’

I told him I would mail him a citation for disorderly conduct and he would have the opportunity to give his side in court. He responded,’I’m not going to show up for court, this is bullshit.’  He then said,’You guys can get the fuck off my property.’ Suspect approached us two additional times, each time arguing that we couldn’t take their word over his.

In a supplemental report written by Officer Barb Maxwell, she took a complaint from the neighbor regarding Rucki’s frightening behavior towards his family. Officer Maxwell notes that when she attempted to speak to Rucki, he “..tried to intimidate me. I introduced myself and stated,’I am here because of a complaint on your dogs.’ Rucki got very close to me and said,’There is NO complaint on my dogs‘, and from that point on I was unable to say another word.”  Rucki Incident Report 9/8/2009

Public Domain Image

Judge Karen Asphaug presided over the criminal trial against Rucki and dismissed all charges under unusual circumstances. Journalist Michael Volpe has extensively investigated the Grazzini-Rucki case and writes about these charges against Rucki, and the resulting hearing: “The case came in front of Judge Karen Asphaug and on December 31, 2009 a preliminary hearing was held.

As a result of the hearing, a trial was scheduled for February 8, 2010. But, on the eve of the trial, the defense filed a motion to dismiss for “lack of probable cause.” That motion was granted without a hearing by Judge Asphaug and the case was thrown out.

This is unusual and inexplicable. A motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause is supposed to be heard during the pre-trial hearing. If a trial date is set, that normally means the probable cause standard has been met. Furthermore, given the number of witnesses to the altercation, dismissing for lack of probable cause is even less appropriate.”  Did judges in Sandra Grazzini-Rucki case previously fix husband’s cases?

That Judge Asphaug presided over this prior disorderly conduct case  against Rucki should have disqualified her from later presiding over the criminal case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede Evavold and the other 2 co-defendants. That Judge Asphaug had knowledge of an incident involving a criminal charge against Rucki, where he was accused of violent behavior, creates a conflict of interest.

Further, this incident with the neighbor should have been allowed as evidence at Sandra’s criminal trial but Judge Asphaug would not allow it in. The neighbor had also written letter to describe his experiences with Rucki,”In our near decade of living next to him I have found him to be a very angry individual rages at anyone who has contention or confronts him. It got so severe against our family that the court awarded us a restraining order in September 2009….

As police reports can verify, he has boldly cursed profanely at, and tried to intimidate Lakeville’s female animal control officer. It is logical to conclude he is capable  of more towards those more vulnerable, such as his wife and children.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Judge Asphaug’s Husband Connected to First Judge Who Presided Over Grazzini-Rucki Divorce

Judge Karen Asphaug is also married to attorney David Warg, who was once a partner in a law firm with Judge Tim Wermager. Judge Wermager was the first judge to preside over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce.

A news article on the swearing in of Tim Wermager suggests that a good ‘ole boys club exists in Dakota County. The article hints that Wermager became a judge because of his political connections. (2008) Wermager sworn in as judge

Notable excerpts from the article include:

(Judge William) Thuet, also a Hastings resident, is a former attorney from the same law firm that Wermager practiced with for many years. In his remarks, he mentioned the connection.

“What do Rex Stacy, Tom Bibus, me, and now Tim Wermager, have in common?” he asked. “We all were in law practice with Jim O’Connell. He’s the judge maker.”

…Thuet was sworn in as judge in 1983 and remembers being told to “do what is right.” He urged Wermager to do the same.

In his remarks, Wermager thanked everyone, including his law partners O’Connell and David Warg, his family, and friends.

“One of the reasons I wanted to have this ceremony here is because of the history here,” Wermager said. “This is where we all started. (Community Room, Hastings City Hall

Wermager said Dakota County is held in high regard for its judicial practices.

“Attorneys like to practice here,” he said. “They are treated fairly and with respect.”

That pattern was begun by Judges Breunig (Robert), Mansur (Martin), and Hoey (George), Wermager noted. It continues today.

In this environment of cronyism and backroom deals how could Sandra Grazzini-Rucki or an of the co-defendants in the criminal trial, including Dede Evavold, ever receive a fair trial? When justice is offered for sale, it ceases to exist as justice and instead sows the seeds of corruption, greed and abuse of power at every level of the system.

HRO: Who is Harassing Who?

Rucki’s filing of a HRO against Dede Evavold seems well timed to silence Evavold from speaking out about her case, and to make an example of her to intimidate anyone else who is posting on social media, or other news outlets, about the Grazzini-Rucki case. There is only one narrative on this case that Rucki endorses – his own.

Second, Evavold has recently filed an appeal on her conviction of felony parental deprivation charges. Evavold Response Brief: Deceptive Dakota County If Evavold’s case is overturned on appeal, she could still be subject to this HRO, which would become another way for Judge Asphaug to throw her in jail for any social media posting… As this HRO has established there doesn’t need to be evidence that Evavold did anything wrong to punish her. The basis of the HRO is quote “blog” posting with no blog named, no threatening statements listed, no acts of harassment cited,no proof Evavold posted anything that constitutes harassment or threats as defined by law. Judge Asphaug has created a situation where she can blame Evavold for any “blog” and charge her with an HRO violation; this is a clear abuse of judicial discretion.

Stay tuned as the Justice Blog continues to expose this harassment order, and other developments in the #grazzinirucki case!

Commentary: Bailiffs Acting Like Judge Knutson’s Personal Thugs

Commentary from http://www.familylawcourts.com on injustice in the Grazzini-Rucki v. Rucki custody trial and the use of bailiffs as the “personal thugs” of Judge Knutson (pictures added by blog)

Isn’t the courthouse the last place one would expect laws are broken?

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center

Turns out, not so much….


09-18-13: What’s up with Minnesota?

Why are Hastings deputy bailiffs acting as if they are Judge David L. Knutson‘s personal thugs?

 Worse; do bailiffs not realize their job description for safety includes everyone at the courthouse?

2014rally

Do bailiffs not realize part of their job is to exercise independent judgment? 

If Judge Knutson is this much of a whack job, (and it would seem he is) doesn’t the public deserve at the very least:  Bailiffs with brains?  

Read attorney Michelle L. MacDonald’s Affidavit (Page 6, Numbers Eight, nine…(oh heck, read the whole thing), here. 

This is America?  Have there been other complaints filled against this judge?  

horrendousfamilycourt2

We initially hoped Judge Knutson wasn’t the Standard for what passes for justice in Minnesota, but turns out, he is.

84a6b-gaveljudgecourtcoollawwallpaperphoto5starsphistarsworthy

Yep, Judge David L Knutson is the standard for Minnesota, because he is a sitting board member of the (we are not making this up) Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards

3a12c-hickknutson02

So the joke is on Lady Justice, and the people of Minnesota. 

ladyjustice

Finally,  where is Minnesota media?  Day camp?

Judge Karen Asphaug Issues Nationwide Warrant for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki While Still Held in Jail – Homeless Sandra Told to Give Court an Address

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

Judge Karen Asphaug (Twitter)

Furthermore, the court accepts Ms. MacDonald’s representation that Petitioner (SGR) is homeless. A person who is homeless, by definition has no residence.” ~ Judge John R. McBride, dismissing OFP petition Grazzini-Rucki v. Brodkorb, 9/22/2016

Dakota County, MN: Judge Karen Asphaug issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, citing a probation violation for not disclosing her address to the court. Sandra is currently homeless, and not a resident of the state of Minnesota. The arrest warrant comes even though Sandra is already being held in jail, and no bail hearing has ever been conducted. Judge Asphaug insists that Sandra must complete her sentence with 6 years of probation and conditions, forcing her to live in Minnesota for the duration of probation. Judge Asphaug refuses to allow Sandra to finish her sentence in prison. Judge Asphaug is wasting valuable time and resources of the courts, correctional department and costing the tax payers of Dakota County when this case could be quickly, and efficiently resolved by having Sandra complete her sentence in prison.

Source: Dakota County Jail Inmate Search November 2016

Source: Dakota County Jail Inmate Search November 2016

On Monday, November 21, 2016, at 9 am, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki will face Judge Karen Asphaug for a hearing concerning the alleged probation violation. According to records, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was taken into custody on November 3, 2016, and is currently in custody at the Ramsey County Workhouse. The violation concerns Sandra’s alleged “refusal” to provide the courts with an address to where she lives. Why has an arrest warrant been issued against someone who is already being held in jail? Sandra has not even had a bail hearing. Usually the court places a hold on a prisoner NOT issue a nationwide warrant. Homeless Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has made so many appearances in the Dakota County Judicial Center, that indeed, it could be listed as her address.

Dakota Co. Courthouse

For Judge Asphaug to demand that Sandra disclose an address is ridiculous – Sandra is considered long-term homeless, meaning she does not have a permanent address. Sandra also is not a resident of the state of Minnesota. Sandra was arrested by US Marshals on October 18, 2015 in Florida for felony deprivation of parental rights and subsequently brought to Minnesota, and booked into jail on November 5th. Since November 5, 2015, Sandra has been homeless – she has been held in jail for much of that time, and alternately, reported to be “couch hopping”.

 

Sandra is considered “long term homeless” meaning she has been lacking a permanent place to live for a year or more, or has been homeless at least 4 times in the past 3 years (both requirements for long-term homeless apply to Sandra). Many homeless individuals resort to “Couch hopping”; which is a term for temporary shelter (i.e. sleeping on the couch). Couch Hopping does not offer permanent shelter, so even if an individual is temporarily staying in one location, it is not considered a permanent address. In Sandra’s situation, she has only been able to obtain temporary shelter, she is homeless and without an address.

Factors to becoming long-term homeless include: being previously homeless for long periods of time, faced with a situation or set of circumstances likely to cause the individual to become homeless in the near future, discharged from a correctional facility, lack of sufficient resources and unable to pay for a place to live. ALL of these factors apply to Sandra. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency: Long-Term Homeless Definitions

Further, Findings of Fact (#6) and testimony from the September HRO hearing validate that indeed Sandra is homeless, and without a permanent address, “Petitioner’s lawyer, Ms. MacDonald, informed the Court that her client is “homeless.” (Ms. MacDonald used the word homeless.) Ms. MacDonald further indicated that her client had been homeless since the year 2012. Ms. MacDonald stated that she had permitted Petitioner to stay in her office, and that her client was staying there at the time of filing the instant petition. Ms. MacDonald did not indicate how long her client had been staying in her office.“ Defendant Michael Brodkorb also argued the HRO be dismissed on grounds of “improper venue” meaning Sandra had not proven her address to be permanently residing in Washington County. Judge McBride later accepted that Sandra is homeless, and has no permanent residence; his ruling to dismiss the HRO is based on Sandra’s inability to prove residency in Washington County.

Judge McBride determined in his ruling that, “3. Minn. Stat. § 609.748 does not supply a definition of the term residence. Elsewhere in the law, however, residence is defined as “the place where a party has established a permanent home from which the party has no present intention of moving.” Minn. Stat. § 518.003, subd. 9. It is doubtful that Petitioner ever established a “permanent home” in her lawyer’s office. 4. Furthermore, the Court accepts Ms. MacDonald’s representation that Petitioner is homeless. A person who is homeless, by definition, has no residence. It follows that Petitioner does not have a residence in Washington County.

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Second, Judge Asphaug is basically demanding that a resident (who?!?!) in Minnesota offer to give Sandra shelter, at their own financial expense, and endure the invasions of legal involvement on their own personal lives just so Sandra can comply with probation…for the next 7 years.

Those who have offered temporary shelter or shown support of Sandra have faced retaliation from David Rucki and his sister, Tammy Love, and/or been subjected to intrusive, and unwanted, legal and police action. Some examples – police seeking information about Sandra sought a warrant to search the home of a friend, the home was ransacked and personal property unrelated to the case, and not subject of the warrant, went missing (never to be recovered).

In another incident, The Carver County Corruption blog and The Red Herring Alert blog both published news and information about the Grazzini-Rucki case and were later threatened with legal action, and possible criminal charges, from David Rucki who was represented by a high-buck attorney, Marshall H. Tanick. The administrator of the Carver County blog was so terrified that she shut down her blog completely, and one administrator from Red Herring Alert has also removed herself from the blog, and attempted to erase the articles she had written out of fear.

In another incident, Sandra temporarily stayed at a residential apartment held belonging to her family law attorney, Michelle MacDonald (the apartment is used for business purposes including hosting clients). The address of the apartment was blasted all over news media and the internet, interfering in the privacy of not only MacDonald but the neighbors as well. Michael Brodkorb hired a private investigator to do surveillance, and take photos and video of the apartment. Brodkorb continues to make active efforts to discover where Sandra is staying, and with whom.  It is no wonder that Sandra can not find a temporary place to live in Minnesota… which would involve not just a few days but a full 7 years of her probation! Anyone who offered Sandra shelter would be subjected to terms of probation that would include having their home randomly searched. Not to mention the threat of legal action by David Rucki. Who would sign up for that? What Judge Asphaug is asking is outrageous – there is a simple, and efficient solution and that is to have Sandra serve the remainder of her sentence in prison.

It is wrong for Judge Asphaug to seek criminal charges against Sandra for an alleged “probation violation” for a crisis that Judge Asphaug alone is responsible for. Sandra has complied with the terms of probation, she does not pose a risk to the public. The challenges Sandra is facing directly relate to her being homeless, and also relate to the ongoing retaliation and legal abuse perpetrated on her by David Rucki and by extension his attorney, Lisa Elliot, and corrupt agents the Dakota County court and legal system.

 

Items of Concern:

  1. Judge Asphaug’s mishandling of the criminal case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki do not serve the best interest of justice.
  2. Sandra has requested to execute her sentence, and shown a willingness to complete her sentence in prison. Judge Asphaug has refused to allow Sandra to execute, and has recently requested that Sandra be placed on a GPS/Ankle Bracelet. Judge Asphaug is going against the recommendation of the probation officer, who has requested to the court that Sandra’s probation be revoked, and that she be sent back to jail.
  3. Sandra does not have the ability to pay for the costs associated with the GPS/Ankle Bracelet. She is currently not working, and her only source of income is a minimal amount public assistance. She is struggling to survive and not able to meet the basic costs of living let alone to afford massive court fines, and exorbitant child support payments (that is based on imputed income and not actual evidence).
  4. Sandra was afforded a public defender. Judge Asphaug has revoked the public defender. Meaning Sandra is now going to court without legal representation, and lacking the proper knowledge needed to defend herself.
  5. Sandra’s situation meets the criteria for long-term homeless; she should not be punished because she does not have a permanent address. Additionally, Sandra had been living out of state when she was brought to Minnesota to face criminal charges – she has not resided in Minnesota for several years. The nature of how and why Sandra was brought to Minnesota, demonstrates that she would not have a permanent address here.
  6. When an individual is considered long-term homeless, they may seek temporary shelter known as “couch hopping”. Temporary shelter does not count as permanent or stable housing. That Sandra does not reveal an address is not a probation violation, it is an expression of her being homeless – she does not know where she will be staying, or how long she will be allowed to stay there.
  7. Sandra does not pose a danger to herself, to the community, or to anyone else. She has complied with her probation, and conditions of release. The challenges Sandra is facing is directly related to the experience of being homeless. Due to the conditions of her probation she is unable to work in her profession as a flight attendant because she cannot leave the state. Sandra lacks the resources to maintain housing. For Judge Asphaug to refuse to allow Sandra to complete the rest of her sentence in prison is cruel and unusual punishment because Judge Asphaug is condemning Sandra to stay in Minnesota for 7 years in a situation where she would be homeless, unable to support herself, and at risk of emotional and physical harm while she is struggling to survive.
  8. Minnesota Law allows for revocation of probation, which is what should be done in Sandra’s case. Judge Asphaug is wasting the valuable time and resources of the courts, law enforcement and the correctional facility pursuing this reckless course of action against Sandra. In addition, tax payer dollars are being wasted. – It is unjust for the Grazzini-Rucki case to cost the citizens of Dakota County, and the state, so much when this case can be quickly resolved by revoking probation, and allowing Sandra to complete the rest of her sentence in prison. 

     

     

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Sentenced After Judge Asphaug Disallows Nearly All of Defense Evidence

As reported by Michael Volpe, CDN News. Read full story at: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is sentenced in domestic case by Michael Volpe, CDN News
HASTINGS, Minnesota, September 23, 2016- “Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has been sentenced to six years’ probation and an extra one hundred and eight days in jail for her role in her two daughters’ running away.
sentencingsgr

Judge Asphaug imposed the unusual sentence after disallowing nearly all of the evidence Grazzini-Rucki intended to use in support of her affirmative defense. Grazzini-Rucki argued that she hid her daughters to protect them from an unsafe environment.

Judge Karen J Asphaug

Judge Karen J Asphaug

The criminal record of Grazzini-Rucki’s ex-husband, David Rucki including a bar fight, road rage incident, numerous incidents of stalking and numerous violations of orders for protection, were all disallowed.

Child Protection reports, including one made by Nico Rucki in which he claimed his father held a gun to his head, were also disallowed.…”

This article by Michael Volpe discusses the allegations of abuse raised by Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and children, and describes the dramatic events leading up to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.  It also includes Sandra’s full statement, to be read by her family law attorney, after sentencing.

Volpe attempted to contact numerous sources for comment including Judge Asphaug, Beau Berentson public affairs officer for the Minnesota courts, the Lakeville police, the Dakota County Prosecutor’s office, attorney Lisa Elliott and others, who did not respond.

Volpe also attempted to contact reporter Brandon Stahl to ask several questions about the case – including asking Stahl why he has declined to write about Rucki’s extensive criminal history, and declined to write about S. Rucki’s June 30, 2016 interview with police.

Volpe reports: “In that interview Samantha Rucki said she was pressured into recanting by her father, running away was her idea, and she reiterated her father was an abuser .

She recanted when called as a witness saying she ran away to get away from the divorce but Judge Asphaug refused to allow her June 30 interview into evidence at Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s trial.” In the June 30 interview with police, S. Rucki said she was pressured and “guilted” into recanting by Rucki and Tammy Jo Love.

During the criminal trial, Judge Asphaug took the unusual move to have S. Rucki testify by Skype, and out of view of the jury. David Rucki, paternal aunt Tammy Jo Love, grandmother Vicki Rucki, and attorney Lisa Elliott, were all in the room but remained out of view of the jury.  Judge Asphaug also limited the questions the Defense was allowed to ask, thereby making their defense ineffective.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center

 

The Fix: Grazzini-Rucki Case Discussed on “The Long Version”

According to host,  Fletcher Long, there are many ways the government can fix a trial – the justice system is designed to benefit, and profit the government. The fix discussed in this episode of “The Long Version” is the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial and the miscarriages of justice that happened in the family law case.

The Fix: the Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Story” with Fletcher Long features guests, Michelle MacDonald and Michael Volpe.

Listen to “The Long Version with Fletcher Long” podcast: http://longversionw4j.com/podcasts

The opponent against you in the criminal trial is the government. The government pays the judge, he is a party in a criminal court. Exclusionary rules never benefit a defendant, they help the government win cases. The private citizens don’t pass rules of evidence. Rules of evidence are passed and adopted by Legislators, and Legislators work for the government. All the money flows from one entity and that entity is in that court.. it is the ultimate David and Goliath scenario, you are always and perpetually beating your head against a wall and that wall is the adversary in court.” – Fletcher Long

The Fix in the Grazzini-Rucki Criminal Trial

In the podcast, Fletcher Long and Guests discuss the elements of the Fix that are present in the way Dakota County mishandled the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial.

Including:

  • Judge Karen Asphaug did not allow jury to hear evidence that would give context to why the affirmative defense was being raised.
  • Evidence was excluded that would show why Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was afraid of ex-husband, David Rucki. Evidence was excluded that demonstrated Rucki’s predilection towards violence (evidence that Rucki had 3 prior protective orders filed against him was excluded, as well as CPS reports that investigated and documented abuse allegations raised by the Rucki children, and more).
  • Judge Asphaug only let certain pieces of information in so that the jury only heard one side of the story, that being told by Prosecution ( Kathryn Keena).
  • Judge Asphaug would not allow evidence in that would impeach testimony or refute allegations raised by the Prosecution. Long says that you have a right under the 6th amendment to confront your accuser. To deny a defendant the right to confront the government’s proof is fixing the trial to the government’s benefit.

Allegations that Judge Asphaug and Prosecutor Keena are working together, and working to exclude and discredit evidence are raised. Long states that when the Judge and the Prosecutor are working “in concert” or working together against a litigant, that gives the appearance to the jury that the defendant is guilty and eradicates the impartiality of the judge.

Judge Karen J Asphaug

Judge Karen J Asphaug

Defendants also have a Constitutional right to call witnesses in order to raise a defense. Judge Asphaug did not allow several witnesses to be called.

Long also says that it is “prosecutorial misconduct” for Dakota County to insinuate that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is a bad mother, or is guilty of any crime, because she sought to call her two daughters as witnesses. Long comments, “It is not okay to say something that does suggest guilt DOES suggest guilt.” Long says that a defendant “is in a fight for their life” and has a right to raise a defense, and to call witnesses as part of that defense. Calling a witnesses does not suggest or prove either innocence or guilt, and is a crucial part of ensuring a fair trial.

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

For thought – Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keen,a called the son N.R. as a witness, and was not subjected to similar speculation or accusation that she was harming a child.

Michael Volpe says:What this story is really is the story of an abuser who is being covered up by major parts of the State of Minnesota.

This is a very important discussion, to get the full benefit of what was discussed please visit and listen to The Long Version, podcast: The Long Version Podcast

Dakota Co. Courthouse

 

Keena Drops Aggravated Sentence Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

Breaking News: At the very last minute, as the jury is deliberating on charges against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki for felony parental deprivation, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena drops her motion to impose an aggravated sentence against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, admitting the charges do not meet the guidelines.

An aggravated sentence is usually reserved for the most heinous crimes. Keena has not given a public statement but previously wrote a notice to the court that she was seeking an aggravated sentence because it was “cruel” to deprive David Rucki of his two daughters, and that he has “suffered extreme emotional pain beyond what is normal for this crime”.

This article will take a closer look at Keena’s motion, and offer additional information on the charges against Sandra.

Dakota County Judicial Center

Dakota County Judicial Center

 

Was David Rucki “Deprived” of his Daughters?

Or Did the Girls Run Away For Safety Reasons?

Keena argued that it was “cruel” to deprive David Rucki of his two daughters, and an aggravated sentence was warranted. Let’s take a closer look at the alleged “cruelty” and charges that Sandra “deprived” David of his two daughters.

Sandra has been charged felony parental deprivation for her role in the disappearance of her two teenage daughters. Sandra is arguing the “affirmative defense” meaning her actions were taken to protect her daughters from an unsafe environment, where they faced imminent physical or sexual harm.

Judge David L Knutson

Judge David L Knutson

It is important to note that when the Rucki girls ran away, their father, David, did not have custody, their mother, Sandra did not have custody of the children. Judge Knutson took custody away from both parents (Sept. 2012) and placed the children in the temporary care of their aunt, and issued a no contact order against both parents, who could now only communicate to their children through the court-appointed reunification therapist, Dr. Gilbertson. All of the Rucki children struggled to reunite with David, and showed a fear of him, and reported allegations of abuse. Dr. Gilbertson did not address the children’s fear and resulting emotional and behavioral symptoms; the focus on therapy was forcing reunification with David. Under these conditions, David won sole custody of the children in November 2013.When awarded custody of the children, David was on probation for a domestic violence charge with an OFP violation.

ViolateOFP2

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

Dr. James Gilbertson, PhD

In April 2013, the two teenage Rucki sisters ran away after Judge Knuston placed them in the temporary custody of paternal aunt, Tammy Love, where they would live under their father’s influence. The Girls made allegations they were being abused by their father, and were afraid for their lives. Before running away, the Girls made multiple attempts to seek help, and were denied the protection they deserved by Judge Knutson, and the family court system.

Laura Miles wrote in her report to the Court dated 6/3/2013 that she spoke to Michelle Roberts, police officer with Lakeville P.D. and ,”Ms. Roberts indicated that at this time, they have an open investigation regarding S and G, but they are considered to be “runaways” at this point. Ms. Roberts states that since they “left of their own free will”, “there is not much to be done as far as active efforts.”

 

The evidence is clear in showing that if the Rucki girls wanted to return to their father, David, they would have done so. The Rucki girls had ample opportunity to make contact with David if that was what they wanted. The girls were found at a therapeutic horse ranch in November 2015. Reports state that the girls both had access to cell phones, computers, had access to a car yet never made any attempt to contact David and never made any effort to return to his home. The girls used their legal names, and never made any attempt to conceal their identity; they lived in the open. The girls had also made contact with other adults, made friends with other teenagers, who they could have turned to for help, or asked for assistance in returning back to their father. They never made any of these gestures and said they were afraid of their father and not ready to see him.

The Girls chose to stay at the Ranch, and had adjusted well to their new life. They considered Gina Dahlen to be a “second mother”. 

After being found, the Girls continued to raise allegations of abuse, and begged to be in foster care rather than return to father David. The social worker assigned to the Rucki girls believed the abuse allegations, and petitioned the Court to keep the girls in foster care, and to allow only supervised visits with David until it was determined unsupervised visits were safe. The Girls spoke personally to Judge Michael Mayer, who assigned to their case, begging him for help. Judge Mayer refused to listen and told the Girls that if they ran away again, he would send the police to pursue them. Judge Mayer then returned the Girls to the custody of David. The Girl were then set to California, escorted by a security guard, to reunification therapy.

 

Severe Emotional Pain” is

NOT an Aggravating Circumstance

Kathryn Keena

Kathryn Keena

Keena said David has “suffered extreme emotional pain beyond what is normal for this crime”and an aggravated sentence is warranted.

To compare Sandra to a terrorist or a drug dealer, who would qualify for an aggravated sentence, is ridiculous. Keena should have been aware in November 2015, when filing the motion to the court, that an aggravated sentence was not applicable. An aggravated sentence is requested in special circumstances where the nature of the crime or the the impact the crime has had on the victim is especially severe. The prosecuting attorney may then ask for an aggravated sentence, meaning the sentence imposed goes above the usual guidelines. “Emotional pain” is NOT a circumstance that qualifies for an aggravated sentence under Minnesota law.

 

Further, Sandra is not a danger to anyone. She has no prior criminal history. In her job as a flight attendant, Sandra works with the public, and has consistently demonstrated safe, and appropriate behavior when interacting with others. Sandra was once the primary caregiver to her children. By all accounts, she had a close, loving relationship with her children until being forcibly separated by an unjust court order imposed by Judge David Knutson. To ask for an aggravated sentence against Sandra is extreme.

 

Emotional Pain?

David Rucki Making Jokes in a Public Statement

Regarding the Return of his Daughters

David Rucki statement 4/14/2106

David Rucki statement 4/14/2106

In a Facebook post dated April 14, 2016 – dated just days before the anniversary the Rucki girls ran away, on April 19, 2013, David writes about his gratitude to all those who supported him while his daughters were missing. The post was written on the page of Dr. Rebecca Bailey of Transitioning Families, who facilitated the reunification between David and his daughters.

A black and white picture accompanies the post, in it David Rucki poses in a Grouch Marx style costume with thick, bushy eyebrows, thick black glasses and a comical extra large fake nose.

In between David’s statements about how he has struggled with the disappearance of his daughters, are several jokes (Grouch Marx was a comedian, afterall ??) ….

To his friend, Tony Canney, David promises to buy a round of drinks the next time they go out, I’m not going to lie to you I put this guy threw the ringer listening to my crap, I guess I will be buying this weekend!

To attorney, Lisa Elliott, David jokes about the turmoil of ongoing litigation,Lisa Elliot and her staff at Elliot Law, when I walked into her office 5 years ago I told her that “This will be the craziest case she will ever have to deal with” she smirked at me and said ” I’ve seen it all” If you asked her today I know she would say ” This case has re wrote the book on crazy!

David jokes about his experience with the horses at Transitioning Families,”I love you guys, even though because of you I no longer have a fondness towards miniature horses! “Ouch!”

Are these the words of someone experiencing severe and debilitating emotional pain?

 

What’s Next?

Keena brought the motion for an aggravated sentence to make Sandra’s case appear more severe, and to impose a more harsh sentence than the law allows. Keena kept up this charade for 8 months, allowing the charges to be widely circulated in the media, knowing this case did not meet the guidelines. Only at the last possible minute did Keena rescind her motion. 

The merits of the Grazzini-Rucki case, and criminal charges against Sandra, continue to be debated. Perhaps this is why Keena held the motion for aggravated sentencing against Sandra for 8 long months, knowing it would not apply…. to manipulate the public perception of the case, and of Sandra.

Jury deliberations have begun, and will continue tomorrow.

Additional Reading:

Jury Selection Proves Difficult in Rucki Case by Michael Volpe

2015 MN Statutes: 244.10 SENTENCING HEARING; DEVIATION FROM GUIDELINES