Appellate Briefs Reveal More Shocking Behavior in Rucki Case

** BREAKING NEWS ** From Michael Volpe and PPJ Gazette reporting on the appellate cases of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and Dede Evavold

Briefs Reveal More Shocking Behavior in Rucki Case.

“In separate response briefs to pro se attorneys, the Dakota County Prosecutor’s Office has acknowledged jury tampering, misdirected an allegation of witness tampering, and refused to respond to address all allegations of judicial misconduct in the Rucki case.

The briefs from Dakota County Prosecutor James Backstrom were in response to briefs filed by Dede Evavold and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, both representing themselves.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom

 

Evavold has been representing herself after the state ruled her too well off to receive an attorney while Grazzini-Rucki was represented but was so disgusted by her attorney’s brief that she filed one on her own.

Her attorney, Steven Russett, who was provided by the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender’s Office, did not respond to an email and voicemail for comment.

In the most startling admission, the prosecutors acknowledge- responding to Grazzini-Rucki- that a reporter approached the jury while they were in a common area during a lunch break and asked if any wanted to be interviewed when the trial ended.

The reporter’s name is Laura Adelmann, who works for the Sun Current, the hometown newspaper of Lakeville, Minnesota, where the Rucki’s live. “There was one occasion during trial in which it was it was reported to Judge Asphaug that a reporter (I.E. Laura Adelmann) had approached the jurors while they were eating in the common area of the courthouse and asked if she could interview them after the trial was over.” Backstrom’s brief stated.

 This incident occurred on Friday July 18, 2016, while the trial was ongoing, and on Monday July 21, 2016, Judge Asphaug issued this statement to the court gallery.

I also received information that a member of the press approached our jurors last week and asked if jurors would be willing to speak after the trial. It is- I am ordering that you may not approach the jurors in the common area of the courthouse. It is- it has a chilling effect. It concerns jurors don’t do it.” An email to Adelmann was left unreturned. A voicemail to her editor, Tad Johnson, was also left unreturned.

Judge Karen Asphaug

Though the trial was covered internationally there was not one story which referred to Asphaug’s statement while the trial was ongoing.

Emails to Karen Zamora and Brandon Stahl, who each covered parts of the trial for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, were left unreturned.

An email to Michael Brodkorb, who has boasted that he covered each day of the trial, was also left unreturned.

Emails to 20/20 host, Elizabeth Vargas, and her two producers, Beth Mullin and Sean Dooley, were also left unreturned; 20/20 covered parts of the trial though it’s not clear if they were there that day.

Beau Berentson said “Our office does not conduct legal research,” in an email.

But when asked if an investigation had been started or if anyone had been disciplined for allowing press to get so close to the jury- a major break in protocol according to everyone this reporter spoke with- Berentson did not respond.

While lawyers who spoke with this reporter said it was unprecedented that press would ever get so close to a jury during trial, they were split on its significance.

Michael McCray, a United States Department of Agriculture whistleblower and lawyer, said he believed that such an interaction would cause all sorts of thoughts to enter a jury’s head “not one will be about the merits of the case.”

Lee Dryer is a Nashville attorney and part-time judge.

No trial is perfect,” Dryer said, but was less concerned since nothing about the case was discussed.

Dryer said he was more concerned with an allegation of witness tampering; Samantha Rucki, Grazzini-Rucki’s daughter who ran away, responded to Kelli Coughlin a Lakeville Police Department Detective, who asked her if she was at a police interview conducted approximately a month before her mother’s trial.

This police interview occurred approximately a month prior to her mother’s trial on June 30, 2016.

They (her father and his sister) basically said I have to (go to the interview) and I have to be here and I have to recant everything I said and it’s going and that’s the way it’s gonna be- and they made me feel guilty about it and I started to cry.” Samantha responded when asked if she was at the interview of her own free will.

Judge Asphaug refused to allow the interview into Grazzini-Rucki’s trial, Samantha Rucki testified by Skype, with her aunt, grandmother, and attorney in the same room but not in camera, her father was listening in from outside the door.

David Rucki Facebook April 2016, Public Statement About Missing Daughters

Furthermore, Judge Asphaug would only allow a limited number of questions. Samantha then downplayed the abuse and claimed she ran away to get away from a bad divorce.

Dryer said that having Samantha testify by Skype raises sixth amendment issues, of a defendant confronting their accuser.

Judge Asphaug argued that Samantha was too fragile to see her mother, but child rape victims are forced to confront their alleged rapist if that rapist is to be convicted.

In their response brief, prosecutors argued that since they weren’t directly involved in the witness tampering, they shouldn’t be held responsible.

Appellant (Evavold) fails to detail what misconduct Respondent (Dakota County Prosecutor) engaged in. In support of her argument, Appellant points to an interview that was conducted by law enforcement of SVR (Samantha). Appellant is under the misbelief that Respondent somehow coerced SVR into providing the statement and that SVR lied in the statement.

The prosecutor’s brief only alludes to a police interview but does not detail what Samantha said in the interview.

Dede Evavold also argued that there was judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, charges not answered by Backstrom.

Judge Asphaug placed herself on Evavold’s, Grazzini-Rucki’s, and the Dahlen’s cases, and refused to recuse herself when each of the four defendants asked.

Furthermore, in 2010, she appears to have fixed a case for David Rucki.

On September 8, 2009, David Rucki went into a fit of rage against his neighbors while they were escorting approximately a dozen two and three-year-old children to the daycare facility they ran.

Complainant stated his wife, two children, and six daycare kids ages three and under were in the driveway when suspect (David Rucki) approached. He stated the suspect threatened his wife, his son, and called them all assholes while standing in the cul-de-sac in front of their home. While I was speaking with the complainant, he informed me that the suspect drove by as we were speaking and put up his middle finger on his left hand at him. Complainant said that they have had on-going harassment type issues with the suspect and his dogs as a result of operating a home daycare facility. He said suspect’s dogs repeatedly come into his yard when daycare parents and kids arrive, barking and growling and the guests as the children are dropped off. He said they have tried to talk to the suspect in the past to mediate the situation, but that he no longer feels comfortable due to elevated language and behavior.

Rucki was charged with disorderly conduct and the case came in front of Judge Asphaug. On the eve of trial, Asphaug dismissed the case for a lack of probable cause, an inexplicable decision which has never been explained.

Lack of probable cause applies to cases with little or no evidence not an incident witnessed by several adults and approximately twelve children. Furthermore, if a case is dismissed due to a lack of probable cause it would be during normal pre-trial hearings, not on the eve of trial, and there’s no evidence that any sort of motion was even filed to trigger this.

Asphaug proceeded to exclude approximately 90% of the evidence of abuse: including David Rucki’s police report, all Child Protective Services reports, all orders for protection against David Rucki, and letters, from Sandra Grazzini Rucki’s, Dede Evavold’s, and the Dahlen’s trials.

Backstrom’s office provided answers to most of the charges of judicial misconduct but not all.

For instance, in their reply brief, the prosecution claims that Grazzini-Rucki only referred to three items as being excluded: The Fox 9 Newscast from June 2013, the GPS tracker from when David Rucki placed a tracker under Grazzini-Rucki’s friend and advocate’s car, Michael Rhedin, and Social Services records.

Assistant Dakota County Attorney, Kathryn Keena

But while Grazzini-Rucki did complain about these, and their exclusion is significant, police reports, letters, and other recordings were also excluded; Sandra Grazzini-Rucki complained of clear judicial bias.

The prosecution downplayed in its brief the breadth of the evidence excluded during trial.

Backstrom’s office did not respond to emails for comment.”

ABC 20/20 Tweet About Abuse of Rucki Teen Exposed As Misleading

“Footprints in the Snow” or Skating on Thin Ice??

Shocking development from journalist Michael Volpe, who has been covering the Grazzini-Rucki caseABC’s ’20/20′ tweets misleading information on Rucki story (CDN News)

A recent social media post from ABC 20/20 raises more questions about their portrayal of the Grazzini-Rucki case, which was featured in the episode “Footprints in the Snow”. 20/20 has been criticized for ignoring critical facts, and refusing to include evidence of abuse.

20/20 recently updated, and re-aired “Footprints” at the end of March 2017. By then ABC had ample time to further investigate the Grazzini-Rucki case, and include any information that was omitted in the original episode. They refused to do so. In addition, ABC had been the target of an onslaught of public complaint from viewers who were familiar with the case and recognized critical information was missing or inaccurately portrayed. There have also been news reports published with new information on the case. ABC 20/20 selected information from news sources, such as Sandra’s sentencing, to include in the updated episode of “Footprints” while continuing to ignore evidence of abuse.

In a post dated March 26, 2017, made when 20/20 updated their story, claims “Samantha denies that her father ever hit her.” However, in a police interview from June 2016, she said the OPPOSITE of what the post suggested and “The ABC tweet is even more misleading, given that Samantha Rucki also told Detective Coughlin that her father was pressuring her into recanting prior allegations of abuse…

This article uncovers evidence and documentation regarding domestic violence, child abuse, and David Rucki’s extensive criminal history that ABC 20/20 failed to include  in “Footprints”. You will also hear reports from witnesses who had experienced Rucki’s frightening and violent behavior.
None of this was included in the “Footprints” episode.

E-mail complaints, thoughts and feedback about “Footprints in the Snow” to ABC 20/20 at:

elizabeth.a.vargas@abc.com  and  sean.dooley@abc.com

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Elizabeth Vargas, journalist and anchor, ABC 20/20

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

Sean Dooley, Producer, ABC 20/20 (Twitter)

 

 

 

(Nov 2015) Social Worker Recommended – Protective Care for Rucki Girls, Supervised Visits With Father Due to Safety Concerns

(Hasting, Dakota County, Minn): Court records reveal that a Dakota County social worker, believed abuse allegations raised by S.R. and G.R.  and fought to keep them in foster care in order to protect them from their father, David Rucki.

EPC Hearing Transcript Nov 30, 2015 (See page 23 for social worker’s recommendations)

During an Emergency Protective Care (EPC) hearing held on November 30, 2015, a Dakota County social worker recommended the Rucki sisters, S.R. and G.R., remain in protective care (for placement in foster care), and that “visitation between the parent and children would remain supervised, the extent and duration of which shall be determined by Social Services”. Parent meaning David Rucki, who petitioned the court that S.R. and G.R. be returned to his care.

The social worker made these recommendation after S.R. and G.R. (p.2-8) recounted allegations of abuse, and described fear of their father, David Rucki. Grazzini-Rucki Social Services File, CPS Records

Reports from the social worker include the following statements shared by S.R. that her father is violent and that “home life was awful prior to the divorce“. Both sisters also reported that Rucki abused alcohol and was often drunk. 

Interviewed S.R. at the foster home on 11/23/2015. S.R. went through the family history with the worker. She was 12 when her parents divorced. Home life was awful prior to the divorce. They tip-toed around dad and he was physically abusive to her mom. Dad ripped off the leg of the organ and ran after her mom. She would have bruises here and there. Dad was rough with S.R. on occasion where he would grab her a few times and shook her. He was mostly emotionally abusive…He drank a lot and was often at bars. Once when they were not living with dad (and were living with mom) there was no more tip-toeing and no more yelling. S.R. said it felt good and she felt free in her own house.” S.R. also added that although people said she was being brain washed and needed de-programming, she never felt that way. S.R. said she would run away if returned to father (David Rucki’s) care.

G.R. shared with the social worker that Rucki took her to bars and threatened to kill the family,”She reports that dad was always screaming at mom. Neighbors called their home the ‘Scream House’. She thought the home situation was normal as she did not know any different. She never had a strong relationship with her dad. He would take her to the bar after dance or hockey. She states a big weight was lifted off her shoulders after the divorce. Mom would have bruises from dad, she would never see this occur but knew it had. She has seen him shove her. She feels her dad was mentally abusive, he was always yelling and ‘it took a toll on all of us’. She states they lived a dysfunctional life.”

G.R. also stated,”Her dad would stalk the house when they were with mom. He showed anger like, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ “ G.R. said she was not being influenced by her mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Just the opposite – she expressed feeling controlled by her father, and that she is afraid of him. G.R. also said that she will run if returned to father (David Rucki’s) care.

S.R. and G.R. told the social worker that they would not run if they were allowed to remain in foster care, and also agreed to attend school and to go to counseling.

The recommendations of the social worker were supported by both sisters, who were represented by an attorney. The attorney requested that the child protection case proceed, and that safety issues would exist if they were returned to the care of David Rucki. The attorney also argued that sending the sisters to a program out of state is not in the best interest of S.R. and G.R., because there is a risk that they could run away again. The attorney requested on behalf of S.R. and G.R. that they remain in foster care.

What teenager begs to be put in foster care? Clearly S.R. and G.R. were greatly afraid of Rucki. That they would go to such great lengths to be away from him demonstrates the panic and fear that lead them to run away on two separate occasions, going into hiding after running away for the second time on April 19, 2013.

David Rucki

David Rucki

It should be noted that the abuse allegations made by S.R. and G.R. have not changed in all the years of they have asked for help. The consistency of their statements shows they are credible, and not being influenced. In addition there are multiple sources of evidence that support their statements. For example, when G.R. says that her father was “stalking the house” those remarks are validated by an OFP and numerous police reports filed by mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Video surveillance has also documented the stalking, and recorded David Rucki’s shadowy form appearing at the home Sandra and the children lived in, night after night. In another police report filed in June 2011, Rucki chased S.R. and a group of friends down the street on her birthday. The terrified teenagers ran into a neighbor’s house in fear of their safety. Rucki chased the girls into the house, and was witnessed banging on the door and yelling. Police were called on that occasion and despite Sandra’s pleas to file charges for an OFP violation, police declined stating the children are not covered by the protective order. Even if that were true, Rucki had violated the OFP by coming within 350 feet of the home, and should have been charged.

In addition, David Rucki has a long criminal history that attests to his propensity towards violence. In fact, at the time of the November 2015 hearing, Rucki was on probation for a road rage incident where he followed then brutally beat a fellow motorist, punching him the face and mouth with such force that the victim was knocked to his knees. After pounding the motorist with his fists, Rucki walked away as if nothing had happened and went into a grocery store to do some shopping.  Some of Rucki’s criminal records can be viewed here: http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2016/05/david-ruckis-greatest-hits.html

Judge Michael Mayer, who presided over the EPC hearing, ignored the recommendations of the social worker, as well as the history of abuse. Judge Mayer also ignored the requests of the S.R. and G.R., who were represented by an attorney. Instead of getting the protection and care they so desperately needed, the sisters were shipped out of state to “reunification therapy” under the escort of a security guard. In “reunification therapy” S.R. and G.R. were forced to recant abuse allegations and made to accept being under the control of Rucki, as part of their “treatment”. Judge Mayer acknowledged that the S.R. and G.R. were “angry” with him and would not happy with his ruling. What Judge Mayer could not understand is that the sisters were not angry – they were in a desperate fight for their lives, and their future.

At every level, those who were responsible to ensure the well-being of the five Rucki children (police, court appointed reunification therapist, Guardian ad Litem, judges etc) not only failed to protect them but have created an environment that allows corruption, and judicial misconduct to thrive in Dakota County, setting a dangerous precedent should other courts follow this path of lawlessness.

 

TearsDakotaCounty

 

Note: The surveillance photos documenting the stalking, previous police reports and Rucki’s criminal history were suppressed by Judge Karen Asphaug in the criminal trial of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and not allowed to be submitted as evidence, or presented to the jury. Suppression of evidence made it impossible for Sandra to prove the affirmative defense she raised, and with no other choice, the jury found her guilty of 6 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights.

For more information on Sandra’s conviction, please read:  Sandra Grazzini-Rucki convicted of hiding daughters – The decision came after the judge disallowed the majority of defense evidence