EXCERPT: On the day that S.G.’s (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki) trial was set to begin, MacDonald filed a civil-rights lawsuit in federal court on S.G.’s behalf against the district judge personally, not in his official capacity. MacDonald then moved for the judge’s recusal from the case based on the pending federal lawsuit against him. The judge denied the motion, at which point MacDonald stated, “[a]nd you are telling me that you can be impartial in this trial, which you haven’t done since day one.” The referee found that this statement violated Minn. R. Prof. Conduct 8.2(a)6 and 8.4(d), because it was made with reckless disregard for the truth.
“Even a thousand loud lies become powerless in front of one calm truth.”
Apparently, this does not apply to county prosecutors:
Portions from Michelle MacDonald’s Brief:
The disciplinary proceedings against me were triggered by one letter by Judge David Knutson filed with the Lawyers Board in January 2014 (A.49). His letter came after I filed a Federal Lawsuit against him on behalf of my client, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on September 11, 2013; after I was wrongfully arrested in his courtroom by deputies, on September 12, 2013 for taking a picture of the deputy; and after I complained in four letters and attachments about Judge Knutson to the Board of Judicial Standards (A 35,39,42,46).
The Director claims in her Brief that my silence upon my arrest is actionable by the court (Director’s Brief at 17-20). At the same time, the Director claims in her Brief that I had no First Amendment right to make statements criticizing a Judge (See Director’s Brief at 20-26).
No matter the findings of the Referee, lawyers can criticize a judge and his decisions, whether in letters or court filings, without retribution by the Director or jeopardizing their license, because such statements are protected by the First Amendment and the doctrine of absolute privilege.
Upon close scrutiny of the testimony, Exhibits and rules, the Referee’s proposed findings of fact, even if true, and if applied correctly to the law, cannot support that my conduct violated the MRPC, warranting discipline (See generally Transcripts of Proceedings Volumes I and II; Director’s Exhibits 1-64, and Ms. MacDonald’s Exhibits 1-23).
Contrary to the Directors statement, the Referee found mitigating factors, and is required, to recognize them. The Referee found that “Respondent offered testimony regarding her pro bono work, her work as a Referee in Hennepin County and her minimal prior disciplinary history as a mitigation of her misconduct (R. Test; R. Ex 120; A. 31).
Here, mitigating factors far outweigh the nature of the alleged misconduct. For 30 years, I have been an attorney in good standing, serving as a conciliation/small claims court Judge, Hennepin County for 22 of those years (1999 to 2014); and Adjunct Referee/Arbitrator in family and civil court (1992-2011). She received a Years of Service Recognition Award, Conciliation Court, Hennepin County. Ms. MacDonald received the Northstar Lawyers, Pro Bono award 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
I have represented thousands of clients, before hundreds of Judges, including lead counsel on Sixty (60) appellate decisions, which include amicus briefs, appearances before the Appellate and Minnesota Supreme Court, and Petitions to the United States Supreme Court.
I am Founder, Volunteer President and Board Member of Family Innocence, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping families out of court: resolving conflicts and injustices peacefully (2011- present).
I am a founding member of Cooperative Private Divorce Project (Divorce without courts), with regular meetings since 2013 for family court reform to develop proposed legislation, Cooperative Private Divorce Bill HF 1348, which creates an administrative pathway to divorce that skips the court adversarial system.
I am founding member of Child Custody/Parenting Time Dialogue Group, with regular meetings since inception, 2013.
The Referee’s findings cannot serve as the basis for discipline or for depriving me of my occupational license for any period of time. The evidence was protected by virtue of being contained in court pleadings and by the First Amendment and doctrine of absolute immunity. Therefore, the Referee’s findings merit reversal.
So, if the Supreme Court states that MacDonald did not adequately represent her client, why aren’t Sandra’s family court orders Void Ab Initio? Just sayin. . .
The majority of attorneys are willing to play the court game and don’t have the hutzpah to stand up for their clients or their profession.
This is another strong message from “the powers that be” that you better fall in line or you too will face suspension or disbarment. Clearly, attorneys are willing to practice fake law, in fake courtrooms, with fake judges, and fake media covering the fake outcomes.
Where are the attorneys willing to stand up for their colleagues and rank and file citizens to shut down this tyrannical court system? WAKE UP AND STAND UP FOR YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS BEING DESTROYED BY THE ABUSE OF POWER AND AUTHORITY, BECAUSE INEVITABLY YOUR TIME IS COMING!
Bundy Attorney Who Argued For Client’s Release Faces Disbarment Hearing-Law Violating Prosecutor In Bundy Randh Case Keeps Job
If this doesn’t show you how crooked the federal judicial system is, nothing will.
Ammon Bundy’s attorney in the Oregon Malheur Wildlife Refuge case, Marcus Mumford, had criminal charges filed against him after he was tased and tackled by federal marshalls for simply arguing for his client’s release in court.
Listen to his account of what happened.
Michael Volpe reveals another twist to the Grazzini-Rucki case in his latest article: David Rucki Claims Pastor and It’s Church Helped Hide His Daughters
David Rucki filed a lawsuit seeking $250,000 in damages against several people and entities including a church and it’s pastor, and even the pastor’s wife, (as the lawsuit states) for making false claims that he is dangerous, when he is not, and encouraging his daughters to “leave their home”.
Rucki may spend nearly that amount on attorney’s fees alone – high buck Marshall Tanick and Lisa Elliott have been retained to represent Rucki in this lawsuit; the estimated costs of their services exceeds $1,000 per hour. It has not been explained how Rucki can afford legal representation from two attorneys, considering he claims that he is impoverished and is receives welfare.
From Volpe,“Even more shockingly, Rucki continues to qualify for public assistance while being able to hire two attorneys simultaneously.
David Rucki, who received 100% of the marital assets including four homes, nine cars, and a multi-million-dollar business along with sole custody of their five children, still qualified for public assistance through this very program.
‘The Father receives child support services from Dakota County for the joint children pursuant to the Title IV D of the Social Security Act,” said Judge Maria Pastoor in 2016, using this assistance as justification for ordering Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to pay $975 per month in child support…'”
Volpe’s investigation of the case has revealed that,”..there is overwhelming evidence that almost anyone is in danger being in David Rucki’s presence..“ And includes details of Rucki’s long history of violent, and criminal behavior, including,”Ten different people- his ex-wife, five children, two neighbors, in-law, and mailman- all previously successfully took out a restraining order against him..“ If this lawsuit goes forward, more information concerning Rucki’s propensity towards violence, and the abuse of his family, are expected to emerge.
Rucki claims the defendants, which include, Dede Evavold and ex-wife Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, compelled then teenage daughters S.R. and G.R. to “leave their home” and stay on a ranch for abused children by using “false statements” and “false threats” that their father, Rucki, is violent and would hurt them.
According to Volpe,“Plaintiffs Gianna and Samantha were compelled by Defendant Grazzini-Rucki to leave their home from the care of their paternal aunt and to go with Grazzini-Rucki to St. Cloud Sauk Center and White Horse Ranch based on false statements and false threats that they would be subjected to harm by Plaintiff Rucki if they did not do so.” The lawsuit further states.
The lawsuit does not explain why this random church, its pastor and wife would go along with this scheme if indeed the girls were being manipulated into staying there by false threats…”
Both S.R. and G.R. stated the reason they ran away because the family court failed to keep them safe from their abusive father, Rucki, and they felt endangered in the current custody arrangement. Statements made by S.R. and G.R. have been consistent, and have not changed, until Rucki sent them out of state, under the watch of a guard, for “reunification therapy”. S.R. later admitted during a police interview that Rucki “pressured” and “guilted” her into recanting abuse allegations.
The lawsuit filed by Rucki states the defendants failed to notify authorities that S.R. and G.R. were staying on the ranch in violation of a court order. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and co-defendants Dede Evavold as well as Doug and Gina Dahlen have all been charged with felony deprivation of parental rights, and convicted, for their role in assisting the girls.
The church, and it’s pastor, named in this lawsuit have never been implicated nor charged in connection with the disappearance of S.R. and G.R., who ran away in April 2013 and stayed on the Dahlen’s ranch until November 2015.
Another woman who assisted the runaway Rucki teens, Lori Musolf, has avoided criminal charges entirely. Musolf had extensive conversations with the runaway Rucki sisters in the days after their disappearance. Musolf also arranged the interview, and acted as a go between, for the Rucki sisters to appear on Fox 9 with Trish van Pilsum. She also failed to notify authorities. Will Rucki name Musolf in the lawsuit and seek damages against her???
Stay tuned for developments…
“Michael Brodkorb is nothing but a political operative consciously discrediting, demonizing, and distorting the good guys for his own financial gain…” ~ Dede Evavold
“I’m not into exposing anyone or the “gotcha” stuff…” ~ Michael Brodkorb
Blogger, Dede Evavold, of “Red Herring Alert” recently published an article Inverting Reality (Red Herring Alert) exposing blogger Michael Brodkorb’s coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case as propaganda, and citing specific incidents where he engaged in harassment and defamation against her, under the guise of “journalism”.
“Inverting Reality” also discusses Brodkorb’s troubled past , documenting a long history of out of control behavior – a domestic violence incident involving his wife, a sexual fling with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch that ended his political career, and driving while intoxicated, crashed his car and nearly killed himself. In another embarrassment, in 2011, Brodkorb made secret recordings of conversations with his GOP bosses regarding his firing (after his tryst with Amy Koch was exposed) . The recordings revealed, among other things, that Brodkorb was struggling with his mental health – which could explain his erratic behavior.
Brodkorb also has a reputation for inciting fights within ranks of the Republican party, among his own team , where he was known for screaming fits and personal attacks against others, it said his eruptions could leave fear in his wake..” (The Fall of Michael Brodkorb) Another Republican, retired Army Lt. Col. Joe Repya, described Brodkorb as “a ‘thug’ with ‘an intimidating personality’ who ran roughshod over party members, elected officials and even volunteers…’You have to understand how frightened people within the party became of Michael Brodkorb..’” (Michael Brodkorb: Admired, feared and, above all, Republican )
Brodkorb has also been described as “always pushing the limits..” Brodkorb, once one of the most powerful people in the Senate, used his political knowledge and connections as ammo in carefully crafted blogs designed to attack political targets. Democrats denounced Brodkorb as a “Republican operative” paid to write hit pieces on their candidates. For his work, Brodkorb was paid very well. Initially Brodkorb began blogging anonymously on Minnesota Democrats Exposed (created in 2004) but in a fit of rage, he accidentally exposed his identity while posting online, and reluctantly, was forced to admit to his clandestine activities. Brodkorb says about MDE,”When you’re writing Minnesota Democrats Exposed you’re waking up every day and looking for a target. Even though that kind of thing drives traffic, it’s not a very fulfilling way to write...” (‘I’m done with partisan politics’: a Q&A with Michael Brodkorb) Due to the insulting content of MDE, Brodkorb was sued for libel – dismissed by a court in 2007. Complaints continued to be raised against Brodkorb to this day.
In the end it seems both the Democrats and the Republican got the last laugh – as Brodkorb’s antics resulted in his political career going up in flames.
Setting politics aside, what is really at issue here is Brodkorb’s character, and pattern of bullying that continues to this day, now manifesting in rage towards Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, co-defendant Dede Evavold, and supporters. The venom to which Brodkorb spews on social media rants, and articles, has led many believe that he works on David Rucki’s payroll.
Indeed, all of Brodkorb’s articles on the Grazzini-Rucki case portray Rucki in a sympathetic light and have ignored or minimized Rucki’s lengthy criminal history, as well as the extensive evidence of the abuse Sandra and the children suffered at Rucki’s brutal hands. There is only one side that Brodkorb portrays – and that is of David Rucki.
Let’s take a deeper look…
Brodkorb: “It Was All About Search and Destroy…”
History is known to repeat itself, and only history can be trusted to tell the truth about Michael Brodkorb.
In 2004, Brodkorb begins blogging on Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Tactics used on MDE are eerily similar to those used by Brodkorb today, in his coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case, “ When I was writing Minnesota Democrats Exposed, it was all about search and destroy, writing sensational headlines, driving traffic and making mountains out of molehills. It was something I got out of my system…” (‘I’m done with partisan politics’: a Q&A with Michael Brodkorb)
Brodkorb’s search and destroy tactics paid off, he became indispensable to political candidates seeking to dig up dirt on opponents, and dedicated his blog to mud slinging. For his work, Brodkorb was paid generously. In November 2006, Brodkorb was the highest paid blogger in the state of Minnesota, generating $55,200 a year to work for the campaign of Rep. Mark Kennedy under the guise of “part time press consultant”. Brodkorb achieved this feat by a narrow margin – Sen. Hillary Clinton, in the #1 position, paid her blogger just $4,800 more than what Brodkorb was earning. (Highest-Paid Campaign Bloggers: Clinton, Kennedy, Santorum)
Brodkorb strongly denied that he has ever been paid to blog, but that has proven to be just another one of his many lies. (Bloggers proliferate on campaign rolls)
A blog (from February 2006) documents Brodkorb’s long history working as a paid operative, “Over the past two years, John Kline’s campaign paid $10,000 to Weber Johnson PA, a political consulting firm run by the brother of former Republican Congressman Vin Weber. Oddly enough, the source of many anonymous attacks on Kline’s opponent Coleen Rowley have come from a blogger who is employed by Weber Johnson PA…” (Kline’s $ To Company That Pays Anonymous Blogger’s Salary? ) WHO led these anonymous attacks? None other than Michael Brodkorb.
Another example, from an expose written in Feb 2012( Brodkorb paid from GOP Senate Victory Fund) reveals that “…the Republican Senate Victory Fund paid Michael Brodkorb $7,500 for consulting work on January 31, 2011, as documented in a just-filed campaign finance report. This was in addition to $20,625 in late 2009, and $16,875 paid to Brodkorb for research in 2010. In sum, Brodkorb was paid $45,000 in in sixteen months from the Senate Victory Fund. These payments were in addition to Brodkorb’s state employee salary as a Senate staffer…” Brodkorb earned about $90,000 a year in his job as communications chief for Republicans at the Capitol.
Michael Brodkorb made a name for himself, and a career, by playing dirty. Pay Brodkorb enough, he will say anything. He rewrites facts and distorts information. He resorts to personal attacks and defamation without remorse. Brodkorb is not an independent source – he is a check book journalist who cannot be trusted.
An Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong
During the period Brodkorb covered the Grazzini-Rucki case for the Tribune, he was contracted as “just experiment”. Terry Sauer, the Tribune’s assistant managing editor for digital, gave a temporary offer to Brodkorb to write political editorials to balance the Liberal editorials published by the paper. The Tribune did not contract Brodkorb to write about the Grazzini-Rucki case; Brandon Stahl had already begun to to cover the case, and at the time was a popular reporter in Minnesota. Brodkorb’s assignment with the Tribune quickly turned into an obsession with Sandra Grazzini-Rucki that spun out of control when he became the mouthpiece for David Rucki, and began to suppress critical facts and evidence in the case to cover up the abuse of Sandra and the children, as well as the illegal activities of the court.
Brodkorb admits that he was attracted to David Rucki from their first meeting in April 2015 (Why I Wrote About the Rucki Case ) “Meeting David Rucki was one of my most emotional moments in writing about the case…. Physically, David is a big man – tall and broad. But his face looked lost and sullen. You could see the pain and sadness as he spoke about his missing daughters.
At one point, I was so overcome I had to excuse myself from our table at a restaurant in Minneapolis. I went to the restroom, splashed cold water on my face and took a moment to compose myself.”
An amber alert was never issued for the missing Rucki teens, and the police had stopped searching for them; presuming, correctly, that they were runaways. In their absence, David Rucki was given custody of all five children; at the time of the custody order he was on probation for violating a protective order against ex-wife Sandra. Rucki had also been ordered into anger management numerous times, which did nothing to quell his rage. Judge David Knutson, family court judge, ignored abuse allegations raised by the Rucki children and the evidence supporting their cries for help. The courts should have protected the Rucki children but, instead, sent them into the custody of a dangerous abuser, whom they have not been able to escape from. You will never hear about any of these facts in Brodkorb’s reporting.
For what Brodkorb had previously been paid, the Tribune wasn’t offering much. Sauer says he paid Brodkorb a modest salary – just “hundreds a month” – apparently he wasn’t worth even that! Brodkorb’s political articles failed to gain public interest; and his involvement in the Grazzini-Rucki case became the subject of controversy. The Tribune had enough of this “experiment” and in May 2016, ended their contract with Brodkorb. Sauer said about cutting ties with Brodkorb, “It really is all about us moving in another direction with the budget we’ve got.” (Brodkorb on the end of his Star Tribune blog: ‘It was never meant to be a forever thing’)
Apologetically Sauer offers to give Brodkorb a job reference.. is that sincere or just lip service? How many times do girls break up with their boyfriends and offer to “just be friends”. Same thing.
A Village Missing It’s Idiot in Minnesota
For the past several years, Brodkorb has spent long days and nights in front of a blinking screen, obsessively covering the Grazzini-Rucki case, while life goes on around him.
Blogger Dede Evavold, of Red Herring Alert, a victim, reflects, “Brodkorb became a pen for hire to harass and intimidate witnesses, interfere with the legal process and lie with impunity during our trials.
Michael Brodkorb currently has a blog that is now entirely dedicated to demonizing and discrediting me to change the narrative in this case and shift the focus away from the true facts.
He also added Allison Mann as a contributing author. Who is Allison Mann? Mann is a paralegal with Elliott Law Office and lives in Lakeville, Minnesota. Elliott Law Offices provides legal services to the father involved in this case, but Brodkorb states. ‘Elliott Law Office is not affiliated with Missing in Minnesota.’ Okay, and I’ve got prime swampland to sell you! Also, Allison Mann has been the photographer of the numerous photos taken prior to my false court hearings on my false charges…” Inverting Reality (Red Herring Alert)
Has Brodkorb been paid for his coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case, and online attacks against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and supporters?
Let’s Take a Look at Brodkorb’s Record:
*History of working as a blogger paid to write propaganda, and generate attacks against targets. Lies about receiving payments for writing blogs.
*Strong interest in Judge David L. Knutson, family law judge assigned to Grazzini-Rucki case. Previous connection to Knutson while working in the Senate.
*Has an emotional breakdown after meeting David Rucki, flees to the bathroom to splash cold water on himself in order to compose himself.
*Contracted to write political commentary for the Star Tribune then radically shifts focus to cover Grazzini-Rucki case, at a time that case was already being covered by a well-known reporter.
* Admitted has no prior interest in investigating missing children when becomes focused on Grazzini-Rucki case.
*Interfering in active police investigation while covering Grazzini-Rucki case for Star Tribune. One example – speaking to a witness, who was sought for questioning by police, and influencing her testimony before the police were able to talk with her.
*Attaches himself exclusively to David Rucki at all court hearings.
*Coverage of Grazzini-Rucki case is one sided, always supportive of David Rucki. Suppresses documentation and evidence that is contrary to the narrative he pushes.
*Lying, exaggerating or distorting information about Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede Evavold, and supporters.
*Exclusively focuses on Grazzini-Rucki case and no other case involving family court issues.
*Devoted a blog to coverage of Grazzini-Rucki case in a similar fashion to previous blogs he created to attack political opponents. The public is not given all the facts or evidence available in the case.
*Brodkorb’s blog is the only blog that has not been threatened with legal action by David Rucki to stop reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki case.
*Brodkorb’s blog is the only blog that has not been criticized or threatened with legal action by Judge Karen Asphaug, and Dakota County, for its coverage of the Grazzini-Rucki case.
*The Carver County Corruption blog was shut down after Rucki and his high buck attorney, Marshall Tanick, threatened legal action against the blog owner. When clicking on old links to Carver County Corruption, the site opens to Brodkorb’s blog devoted to the Grazzini-Rucki case.
*Allison Mann, paralegal with Elliott Law Office, contributing author to Brodkorb’s blog
*Brodkorb’s work and efforts serve only to promote David Rucki’s interests.
(Courtroom 2F, Dakota County Judicial Center, Minnesota) Judge David L. Knuston aka “Korrupt Knutson” presides over yet another controversial case – this time giving a drastic downward departure, meaning a sentence more lenient than recommended by guidelines, for an unlicensed daycare provider convicted of brutally assaulting, and nearly killing, a 13 month old boy.
Due to the severity of the injuries, the child was not expected to survive – today he is 2 years old and suffering from permanent brain damage.
Has justice been served? In two separate high-profile cases – the Sandra Grazzini-Rucki divorce/custody case and the criminal trial of child predator Dennis Roy – Judge Knutson showed leniency to a perpetrator of child abuse, and gave sympathy instead of prison.
A deeper look into all three of these cases suggests a pattern that Judge Knutson’s reckless disregard for the safety of children, and for public safety, has enabled dangerous abusers to avoid the punishment their heinous crimes warrant. Is the public safe with Judge Knutson on the bench?
#1 – The Merchant Case (2016/2017) : No Prison for Daycare Provider Who Nearly Killed a Toddler
Background: On September 22, 2016, parents Jessica and John Merchant say their child “WM” was in good health, and showed no sign of any problems, the day he was dropped off at the home of Mariel Alexandra Grimm. Grimm, a mother and unlicensed daycare provider, had been watching “WM” since he was 9 weeks old. Grimm says that after being dropped off at her home that day, “WM” was at a usual level of activity, and that he “he was playing on the floor with some toys and seemed fine…” The day started off like any other, then ended in tragedy.
Grimm was the only adult in the home the day “WM” suffered a near fatal brain injury. At the time, Grimm was caring for 5 five other children – four of her children who were being home-schooled, and another daycare child.
“WM” was dropped off at 7:15 am; Grimm said she cuddled with “WM” and then laid him down in a pack n’ play. Grimm then went upstairs, and left “WM” alone, in the basement, to nap. At 8:47 am, Grimm heard “WM” crying and went to change his diaper, and brought him upstairs where he ate some cereal. After breakfast, Grimm brought “WM” back to the pack n’ play, and left him alone in the basement again so she could home-school her 4 children in the upstairs level of the home. In her statement to police, Grimm did not recall how long “WM” slept.
When “WM” woke again, Grimm went to change his diaper and noticed “WM” was stiff and unconscious. Grimm tried to rouse “WM” but he would not respond. Grimm then called Jessica Merchant who instructed her to call 911. The 911 call was made at 12:51 pm, an ambulance arrived soon after. When medics arrived, they found Grimm holding “WM” – who had a pulse but was breathing very shallow and was unresponsive. Medics noted that one of “WM”’s pupils was extremely dilated, and the other was not, a sign of head trauma. At the hospital, “WM” was diagnosed with a massive subdural hematoma (a build up of blood between the layers of tissue that cover the brain, a sign of severe trauma) and required emergency surgery.
Physicians treating “WM” stated that he would have become unresponsive immediately after or shortly after the head trauma occurred. The physicians also testified that type of trauma “WM” suffered is beyond what a toddler would experience if they had a normal fall or bump to the head, and the severity of the injury is consistent with being violently shaken or thrown. Meaning the greater force applied to the head, the more severe the damage to the brain and functioning will be. A severely injured infant would not be able to regulate any behavior requiring higher cortical functions, such as eating, sitting, playing, laughing, or walking – which is how “WM” now presents.
“WM” was diagnosed as suffering from abusive head trauma. He required surgery to remove a part of his skull in order to alleviate the swelling around the brain and spent months in the hospital. Medical experts testified that the injury inflicted on “WM” is consistent with “a violent acceleration-deceleration event, such as a high-speed motor vehicle collision or being severely shaken or thrown..”
An online comment says this about the case: “..Her (Grimm) story has changed repeatedly — her timeline is both inconsistent and incoherent and isn’t supported by the physical evidence.
Her daughter testified that the boy woke up crying while Mariel was in the shower, her daughter got her mother out of the shower who was angry about it, then Mariel was heard yelling at the boy to shut up. He then went entirely silent.
The boy suffered permanent and severely debilitating brain damage. To the extent that he is expected to remain a toddler in his capabilities for the rest of his life (though he is hoped to exceed those expectations). The damage was described, by one of the premier pediatric neurosurgical and neurological teams in the entire United States, as one of the worst cases of TBI that they’ve ever seen…” Comment VO
Grimm noted in an online post that attorneys were “happy” that Judge Knutson was appointed to her case, and they had good reason to be considering the favorable outcome she would receive. Grimm was convicted in July 2017 by a jury of 1st degree felony assault; sentencing occurred in September 2017.
“WM”, an adorable little boy with eyes that smile, chubby cheeks and golden blond hair, suffered from permanent brain damage and will never fully recover from injuries. The rest of his childhood will include continued medical treatment, and uncertainty. The Merchants said during their victim impact statement that “WM” cannot walk, requires a feeding tube, and suffers from seizures and intractable pain.
Mother, Jessica Merchant, said,” It is impossible to convey the tragedy and depth of devastation and sorrow as we watched our son fight for his life for days and weeks…
His life has been forever altered. Instead of wondering where he’ll go to college, or if he’ll be an engineer like his daddy, or a teacher like his mama, or an astronaut or a writer or an athlete, we have to wonder if he’ll even be able to have a job … to participate in school … to live on his own.”
Many in the courtroom cried after listening to the heart-wrenching victim impact statement. The Merchants asked Grimm be given the harshest sentence possible.
Despite the severity of “W.M’s” injuries, Judge Knutson showed sympathy – not to the “W.M.” or to the Merchant family but to the woman convicted of shaking the child, Mariel Grimm. Knutson praised Grimm for “cooperating” with the prosecutor’s office and her attitude in court; to which Judge Knutson bizarrely notes,”She has expressed ongoing love and support for the victim..” An “expression of love” does NOT involve violently shaking or throwing a toddler, causing his brain to hemorrhage!
Judge Knutson said he was also touched by the letters of support for Grimm but ignored the victim impact statement of the child’s parents, and the reaction of the public to it.
Prosecutor Heather Pipenhagen said, “All of Ms. Grimm’s good qualities … do not mitigate what she did on September 22, 2016 to this child..Make no mistake, she took his life. He’s alive, but Ms. Grimm took his life.”
Grimm was facing up to 8 years in prison but in an act of misplaced mercy, Judge Knutson stayed the sentence so that Grimm will avoid prison. Instead, Grimm will spend up to 90 days in county jail but could be released in as little as 60 days. Grimm could also be released from jail to attend counseling appointments, and to home-school her 4 children. In addition, Grimm has been sentenced to 60 days of electronic home monitoring, 200 hours of community service and 15 years of probation. Grimm has an open case with CPS, her children were not removed from her home, but she has been required to be supervised when with them. As part of the conditions for probation Grimm is required to follow all directions of CPS. Grimm says she is innocent, that “WM” came to her home with injury, and plans to appeal.
A Fundraiser has been set up to help the Merchant family pay “W.M.’s” medical bills: Help with Medical Bills
Read More About the Merchant Case:
#2 – Dennis Roy Case (May 2013) : Stayed Sentence for Child Rapist, Victim Imprisoned By Ongoing Trauma, Flashbacks
Dennis Michael Roy, pleaded guilty to felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct after raping and repeatedly assaulting a 5-year old girl, a relative, from Eagan (Case No. 19HA-CR-12-495).
Roy faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and $40,000 in fines…but instead he walked free. Roy appeared before Judge David L. Knutson, who handed down his sentence on March 22, 2013. Judge Knutson sentenced Roy to a 16-year stayed prison term and 20 years of probation.
In September 2014, Roy was found guilty of a probation violation for loitering in public with an open bottle of alcohol. He served 45 days in jail.Roy has 18 prior convictions, including second-degree burglary, multiple motor-vehicle thefts, multiple DUIs, trespassing, disorderly conduct and multiple domestic assaults.
The child involved continues to struggle with the assault, and suffers severely from the effects of trauma with flashbacks, anxiety and depression.
Read More on the Roy Case:
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Divorce/Custody Case: Abuser Given Sole Custody of Children He Victimized, Lifetime Ban From Children Against Protective Mother
Judge Knutson is the family court judge who presided over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and custody trial after it was illegally re-opened. Judge Knutson also demanded that ALL legal matters concerning the Grazzini-Rucki family be placed under his jurisdiction alone, and no other. By “coincidence” all the judges appointed to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s other legal matters (appellate, child support, criminal) share a connection to Judge Knutson, and all have issued extremely harsh rulings against her – even violating the law to do so.
In September 2012, Judge Knutson court ordered the removal of mother and primary caregiver, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, from the home, causing all five children to run away after hearing the news. Judge Knutson instilled paternal aunt, Tammy Jo Love, a temporary guardian. Love had previously lost custody of her children due to drug use. The Rucki children feared Love, and say she mistreated them (one of the children told police after running away that Love hit her). Judge Knutson’s irrational decision came after allegations of sexual abuse involving two of the children were raised, which he was fully aware of. The Rucki children were apprehended and put into the care of a maternal aunt while Judge Knutson continued to work to give abuser, David Rucki, custody of the children who were so desperate to escape his abuse.
Instead of protecting the five Rucki children, Judge Knutson sought to isolate the children so they would have no avenue for help. Judge Knutson worked to give the abusive father complete control over the children – directly putting them in harm’s way. For the Rucki children, their childhood died the day their loving and protective mother was removed from their home, and their life, their existence would become a nightmare involving continued legal chaos and abuse; that would be impossible to escape, even as adults.
The traumatized Rucki children were then court ordered into reunification with identified abuser, father David Rucki. Some of the visits were facilitated in the Dakota County Judicial Center, where Judge Knutson used the court bailiffs to guard the doors so the children could not escape. Witnesses reported hearing the anguished cries of the children from behind closed doors during “reunification”. In another incident, the youngest child was heard screaming like a wounded animal, held captive by a therapist bent on “deprogramming”. The older siblings made efforts to help but were prevented and eventually separated from the younger siblings so they would be easier to control. Judge Knutson’s failure to protect the five Rucki children from the physical, mental and sexual abuse perpetrated by their father, David Rucki, has directly lead to these children being further abused, and now held captive by a custody ruling that has sentenced them to a life of torture.
Judge Knutson’s failure to consider the safety of the Rucki children created a crisis in which two of the eldest Rucki sisters ran away again on April 19, 2013, again citing fear for their safety when Judge Knutson attempted to place them again into the care of Tammy Jo Love.
While the eldest sisters were still missing, Judge Knutson ordered a custody trial, to be held on September 11-12, 2013 (note: the custody trial was held in the same courtroom as the Mariel Grimm criminal trial). During trial, Judge Knutson ordered Sandra’s attorney to proceed with while handcuffed and strapped to a wheelchair, without her client present, and no files, and not even her shoes or glasses. The custody trial was rife with due process violations, Constitutional violations, and legal error – in effect was a rigged trial masterminded by Judge Knutson. Under circumstances of great injustice, in November 2013, David Rucki was granted sole custody of all 5 children. At the time of the court order, Rucki was on probation for violating a protective order issued against him, after his continued abuse of Sandra. Judge Knutson later slapped a lifetime ban against loving and protective mother, Sandra – prohibiting her from any physical, verbal, or written contact with her children. Sandra has not seen or heard from her children in over 5 years, and grieves their loss every day, in every breath, she takes.
The two oldest Rucki sisters remained in hiding, living on a therapeutic horse ranch, and refusing to return to their father, David Rucki, stating he abused them. Witnesses say both girls exhibited emotional and physical symptoms consistent with abuse. On the ranch the sisters were well cared for, and nurtured, and began to not only heal but thrive in their new environment, which they considered home. Tragically in November 2015, after 2 years the sisters were discovered, and despite their pleas for help, and the recommendation of a social worker to keep them in foster care for their safety, Judge Michael Mayer (a close friend of Judge Knutson) returned the sisters back into the custody of David Rucki. To attest to his violent nature, Rucki was on probation for a violent road rage incident at the time the girls were put into his care.
Sandra was later convicted of 6 counts of felony deprivation for her efforts to assist her daughters, who ran away from abuse. She has filed an appeal, and has not stopped fighting for justice, and to keep her children safe from abuse.
The Grazzini-Rucki case is yet another example of Judge Knutson showing preference to a dangerous abuser, and purposefully ignoring the safety concerns and well-being of a vulnerable child. Yet again, the abuser is given protective status while the child is placed in harm’s way, with the assistance of Judge Knutson.
Against all logic, Judge Knutson has shown sympathy to dangerous child predators and abusers. Criminals go free when jail is warranted, and vulnerable children are denied the justice and protection they deserve.
Is Minnesota safe with Judge Knutson on the bench?
Date: August 9, 2017
This episode of F.A.C.E.U.S. (Families Against Court Embezzlement Unethical Standards) features Robin, Lulu, Marci Friedman and Michael Volpe
Discussing the following topics:
* News and updates from the 2017 Whistleblower Summit where Michael Volpe was a speaker.
* Personal stories of guardianship abuse and the plight of vulnerable adults who are put under care by the courts then robbed of assets, abused or neglected and kept away from those trying to protect them. The Martin “Jack” Patterson guardianship abuse case is discussed, with updates provided of how he was able to get out guardianship after years of battling the courts, and the family that profited from holding him prisoner.
*News and updates on the Sandra Grazzini-Rucki family court case and criminal trial
- Volpe provides an informative overview of the history of the Grazzini-Rucki case, the violent behavior of David Rucki, and how the Dakota County court system colluded with a dangerous abuser to give him custody of 5 children, and punish the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who bravely sought to protect her children from harm.
- Widespread corruption Grazzini-Rucki family court and criminal case – political, judicial and media are covered with details on how each has played a role in the injustices perpetrated against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.
- The harassment restraining order issued against Dede Evavold and the violations of her free speech rights. In a case that has garnered nationwide media attention Evavold has been prohibited by Judge Karen Asphaug from from blogging on the Grazzini-Rucki case. Plz Like, Share and Repost!: F.A.C.E.U.S. Robin Lulu Marci Friedman Host Michael Volpe whistle blower summit
All rights reserved under the 1st Amendment regarding free speech
Beware, the next blog post may be a threat to someone’s safety.
That’s the allegation made in an ex-parte restraining order filed by David Rucki against Dede Evavold.
“Respondent (Evavold) continues to post information about my family, photos of my family, myself and other members of my family,” Rucki said in his ex-parte harassment restraining order application, “Respondent also continues to make allegations which are false but may incite others against me. My children are frightened for their safety and feel their privacy has been violated.”
The application continued, “This is a proven pattern that has been going on for years.”
Rucki does not specify what Evavold has said which is harassing or threatening; an email to Rucki’s attorney, Lisa Elliot, was left unreturned.
Evavold has a blog called Red Herring Alert, where she writes about the Rucki case among other blog posts.
This is not the first time David Rucki has used the legal system to try and shut Evavold’s blogging down. In the Summer 2016, his then attorney, Marshall Tannick, sent Evavold a letter threatening a lawsuit if she didn’t remove her blog immediately.
“I am writing to you on behalf of David Rucki,” began a letter from Tanick to Evavold from June 7, 2016, “and his daughters, Samantha and Gianna, with regard to the matter relating to the removal and concealment of the girls and related incidents that have occurred during that episode and thereafter.
“There are various civil claims arising from your involvement in this matter.”
Tannick did not respond to an email for comment and it’s not clear if he is representing him regarding the restraining order.
On April 18, 2013, Rucki’s two oldest daughters- Samantha and Gianna- ran away from home and stayed for approximately two and half years with strangers- Doug and Gina Dahlen- after a judge- David Knutson forced them to live with Rucki’s sister- Tammy Love; even though all five Rucki children complained vociferously at the time that David Rucki and his family were violent.
Rucki has lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Lakeville throughout the process.
Evavold was one of four people convicted in relation to this disappearance after she recommended to the girls’ mother- Sandra Grazzini-Rucki- that she take her two daughters to live with the Dahlen’s; the Dahlen’s pled guilty for their role in hiding the two girls earlier in 2017.
Ironically, David Rucki is no stranger to restraining orders as nine people- his five children, his ex-wife, two neighbors, and an in-law- all successfully took out a restraining order against him after threatening and stalking behavior.
This case has been covered internationally and Rucki has conducted hundreds of interviews, making his pleas for privacy curious.
The trial judge- Karen Asphaug- disallowed any mention of his criminal history; when his ex-wife testified at her trial she wasn’t even allowed to allude to the restraining order she and her children took out against him.
The four defendants argued they hid the girls because they feared for their safety in Rucki’s care; Rucki once chased after his daughter on her birthday, according to a police report and stuck a gun in his son’s head according to a Child Protective Services report.
Not surprisingly, Asphaug also granted him this restraining order ex-parte, which means without the other parties- in this case Evavold- knowledge.
Normally, an ex-parte restraining order is only granted in cases where someone is under immediate threat of physical danger and the granting of a restraining order based on blog posts should raise first amendment issues.
I contacted Brandon Stahl (Minneapolis Star Tribune), Laura Adelmann (Sun-Current), Michael Brodkorb, Elizabeth Vargas, Sean Dooley, and Beth Mullins (the last three the team behind the controversial 20/20 broadcast on this case which ignored Rucki’s documented history of abuse)- but none provided a response.
Adelmann, it was recently revealed, approached the jury during Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s trial and asked if any would like to be interviewed after the trial was over; her behavior is now the subject of a jury tampering allegation.
Asphaug appears to be David Rucki’s personal judge. She presided over each of the four criminal trials in this case- Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede Evavold, Dough Dahlen, and Gina Dahlen.
Asphaug ruled to disallow nearly all of David Rucki’s criminal history and forced Gina Dahlen to testify in multiple trials even though she was a defendant still awaiting her trial.
The 1st Judicial District, where Asphaug sits, would only say that judges are chosen to a case “by statute” but would not explain how Asphaug wound up repeatedly on Rucki’s cases.
A phone call and email to Lissa Linne, a public affairs officer for Minnesota Courts, was left unreturned.
A call to Asphaug’s law clerk, Jennifer Williams, was also left unreturned.
Asphaug taking over legal proceedings related to Rucki continues a pattern.
Judge David Knutson placed himself on every legal case related to the Rucki’s when he took over their divorce in 2011.
“The above referenced matter has been assigned to the Honorable Judge David Knutson,” a letter written by Knustson’s clerk in August 2011 stated, “all future matters shall be scheduled in front of Judge David Knutson.”
Knustson proceeded to issue approximately 4,000 orders, almost all regulating Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s behavior; he gave 100% of a multi-million estate to David Rucki and forcibly- under the threat of jail- removed Sandra Grazzini-Rucki from her home, and awarded David Rucki sole custody of his children, despite his documented history of violence.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has not seen any of her five children since early 2013.
Evavold has twenty days to challenge the restraining order.
The terms of the restraining order forbid Evavold from speaking about the Rucki family in public or approaching the family; the restraining order appears to be overkill as the terms of Evavold’s probation already forbid all this.
Evavold’s probation is overseen by Judge Asphaug, though she’s yet to violate her probation.
Evavold has four months left to serve on her prison term, but like Grazzini-Rucki, Asphaug has ordered her to serve it over the next six years.