Did Detective Dronen Use Coercion, Fraud to Elicit A Statement in Grazzini-Rucki Case?

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

Small town, Lakeville police, traveled an estimated 191 miles one chilly day, November 18, 2015, to a horse ranch in a quiet corner of Minnesota. Greeting them in the gravel driveway were Star Tribune reporters, who had been waiting 3 hours to break the biggest story their podunk paper had seen since the 1991 Halloween Blizzard covered trick-or-treaters in 8.2 inches of ghostly white snow. Star Tribune cameras were on the scene to catch every dramatic minute as the runaway Rucki sisters were discovered after a multi-agency search warrant.

Even outside their jurisdiction, Detective Jim Dronen and Kelli Coughlin were territorial over this case – that of the runaway Rucki sisters, who went missing in April 2013 to escape an abusive home that family court would not protect them from. These two detectives would accomplish what Judge Knutson could not do despite 3,400 court orders issued against the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who was left homeless, destitute and torn from the children who were “my world” after the court’s illegal actions. What reunification therapist James Gilbertson tried but failed at, as he recommended “unconventional” methods of therapy such as forcing the children to sit in at court hearings, and forcing the children to have a face-to-face visit with their father the day he was due in court for violating a no contact order (no contact meaning with the children). What Guardian ad Litems Julie Friedrich and Laura Miles attempted by denying the abuse and shoving the truth down their throats, as they gagged – these children were going back into the care of their abusive father.

Was the interrogation method used on Doug Dahlen coercive, fraudulent? And were coercive methods used on the teenage Rucki sisters? A new video from Lion News offer a glimpse into the interrogation of Doug Dahlen.

Police can use a variety of methods to get information or elicit a confession – they can lie, exaggerate and even use some forms of trickery to obtain information from a subject, to get a confession. The one thing police can not do is coerce a confession. Coercion is defined as physical or psychological force, threats or intimidation. Similarly, trickery that results in a false confession is not allowed.

The Lion News Video (below) offers excerpts of the police interviews from the Rucki investigation, as well as an excerpt of a police interview between Detective Dronen (#4816) and Doug Dahlen that occurred on November 18, 2015.

Doug is one of the defendants in the high-profile Grazzini-Rucki case, who, along with his wife, sheltered the runaway Rucki girls at his therapeutic horse ranch for over 2 years.

This interview occurred AFTER the Rucki girls were found living at the Ranch.

dougginadahlen

Doug and Gina Dahlen

(4:11) Doug Dahlen calls wife, Gina, “Hello… Hey.. Did you get my message? Can you come home? Um police are here and they’re talking about what they’re going to do with the Girls. They can stay here ’til get this sorted out or whether they have to go and stay somewhere else or what. They um the mom’s in jail and they’re saying if the Girls go in and take care of this, that they can get their mother out of jail and uh hopefully get this straightened out. As of now I don’t really think they know what they’re going to do with them…

COERCION: A person who has power over another compels someone to act or make a choice by force, threat or overcoming their own individual will. Coercion can involve fraud to compel someone to do something they would not ordinarily do.

It is coercive to tell Doug Dahlen, and the Girls (if they were given a similar message) that if they “straighten this out” i.e. talk to police, and tell police what they want to hear, that their mother (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki) can get out of jail. Another implied threat is the unanswered question on where the Girls will go – that cooperation may result in the Girls being able to stay at the Ranch. Notice also that Doug is talking to police without the benefit of an attorney.

Both of the Rucki sisters were minors at the time they were found, and were in a vulnerable state. For the last 2 years, the Girls considered the Dahlens as family, and grew accustomed to their life on the Ranch. The Girls had ample opportunity to leave, and return to their father, but chose to stay. Now these Girls were losing their home – for a second time in their life, a traumatic upheaval (the first when Sandra was forced out of the home, and their lives in Sept. 2012). Where were the Girls going – they could not stay with the Dahlens, and threatened to run away if returned to father, David Rucki, That is what makes this coercive – applying pressure, and compelling testimony under duress; especially on vulnerable teen girls. The fraud is stating that testimony could get Sandra Grazzini-Rucki out of jail, that simply would not happen, and police knew it.

NO child should be placed in this type of situation by police. There are organizations that specialize in conducting forensic interviews with children and vulnerable adults that could have been utilized. These organizations typically offer family counseling and community resources as well. An age appropriate, trauma informed approach could have assisted the police investigation in a way that would minimize stress on the Girls, and allow them to be heard. But that never happened. Instead the Lakeville police pushed their agenda… and silenced the Girls as so many in Dakota County had done before.

Detective Dronen. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com, sunthisweek.com

Detective Dronen. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com, sunthisweek.com

Another element of psychological coercion… and testimony from Doug that supports the Girls were abuse victims.

(5:58) Detective Dronnen states, “You said when the girls first got here, they were afraid?”

Doug, “Beyond afraid. They were terrified. I’ve never seen a kid so scared. I can’t emphasize that to you… I’ve seen kids in pretty rough shape, I’ve never seen one that was truly afraid for their life until I saw them.”

Detective Dronnen, “Did they ever tell you why they were afraid?”

Doug, “No, one time I went in and S.R. was curled up in the bathroom, in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. ” <– This is called REGRESSION, and is a sign of severe trauma or abuse. Regression is the act of returning to an earlier stage of behavioral or physical development; this can occur because trauma not only affects the mind and emotion, but is also stored in the body, at a cellular level. Trauma also affects body chemistry.

Detective Dronnen, “Did she ever talk about anything that happened at home?”

Doug, “Just how terrible it was. Never gave much for details… ” Doug goes on to say S.R. did not like “being touched by a man”, even in common social interactions. <– Note S.R. may have found someone else to confide in; if she had an aversion to men it makes sense that she would not trust or open up to a man, even Doug.

In the next excerpt, Detective Dronen gives Doug Dahlen his version of what happened with the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and custody case, and omits all mention of domestic abuse and child abuse allegations or David Rucki’s criminal history. This is done intentionally! Detective Dronen is controlling the interview, and feeding information to Doug with the intent of changing his perspective, and ultimately changing testimony that may support that abuse happened to the Rucki girls.

Keep in mind Detective Dronen previously dismissed an OFP violation against David Rucki wiped it completely from MNCIS. Dronen personally knew about the abuse allegations, and purposely withheld this information when giving his version of the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and child custody dispute to Doug.

Det. Dronnen dismisses OFP against David Rucki, wipes from MNCIS. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com

Det. Dronen deletes OFP violation against David Rucki, wipes from MNCIS. Source: https://redherringalert.wordpress.com

Doug sounds incredulous as he is listening, and relies on past experience to weigh Detective Dronen’s words. When Doug brings up his own experiences with a stressful divorce, Detective Dronen adapts Doug’s comments to supportive the narrative he is pushing.This means Dronen is shaping Doug’s perspective, and changing his recollection on a past event. This type of questioning is extremely damaging because Detective Dronen is feeding information, ideas and emotions into Doug that were not previously there. Doug has no one else to offer additional information, he is reliant solely on Dronen.

Detective Dronen tries to sell Doug his version of events – that parental alienation had occurred, that Sandra is mentally ill and completely withholds any information about the allegations of abuse. If this sounds plausible, you too maybe a victim of psychological coercion.

Key elements of psychological coercion involve

  1. Rejecting alternate information and individual opinions.Communication is controlled, permissible subjects and thoughts are directed. Alternate ideas or free thought is shut down or guided back into desired parameters.
  2. Forcing the victim to re-evaluate what has happened, their experience in a negative way. The victim is made to feel like a “bad” person or alternately, is made to feel bad about their experience and made to feel that adopting the chose perspective is redemptive or “good”.
  3. Controlled communication produces efforts are  to destabilize and undermine the subject’s consciousness, sense of reality, sense of self, emotions and defense mechanisms. The subject wrestles with internal questions, doubts, and then reinterprets their experience to  adopts the perspective given to them.
  4. Creating triggers in the subject by eliciting strong emotional reactions by manipulating their perspectives, and what is important to them i.e. home, family, ethical values, past experiences, past hurts, guilt, anxiety etc

Psychological coercion does not leave a bruise or a mark but it’s impact can not be underestimated.The intense pressure of psychological coercion can and does weaken a person’s will power and limit their ability to make free choices. The victim is unable to use discernment, judgement or call on help as they normally would had they not been manipulated.  According to one expert, The Neurotypical Suite, “The cumulative effect of psychological coercion can be an even more effective form of undue influence than pain, torture, drugs or the use of physical force or threats.

Police need to use the power invested in them carefully and avoid any actions or behavior that is or  could be interpreted as coercive.

Statements that are made under coercion are not made through an exercise of free will.  If Doug Dahlen – or the Rucki girls – were told by Detective Dronen, or any member of the Lakeville police, that if they “straightened things out” and gave a statement to police, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki could “get out of jail”  that is coercion. It is eliciting a statement based on fraud, and is applying duress with the underlying message of if you do not comply, she will remain in jail. To excuse this behavior as being part of the job, as policeman, opens the door to abuses of power –  abuses of power have destroyed the Grazzini-Rucki family, and if not exposed and stopped, anyone of us could become a victim next.

Note: This video include slides that are somewhat editorialized, the audio content is what applies to this article, plz use discernment.

 

 

Also Read:

Media Mayhem: Has Stahl and Brodkorb Gone Too Far Reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki Case??

Shocking Interview from Grazzini-Rucki Case – Brodkorb Goes Rogue, Dronen Wants to Make Rucki Girls Wards of the State, More…

I honestly believe Judge Knutson is psychotic, that I have no doubt. I’ve sat in his courtroom, the guy is absolutely crazy. I believe there needs to be a lot of changes in family court as well….

If David Rucki is as crazy as these Girls say he is, then I don’t know what he is capable of...” ~ Lori Musolf, prosecution witness

Lawless Lakeville, Dakota County, Minn:  Lion News has released a shocking audio of the Lakeville police interview between Detective Dronen and Lori Musolf, witness for the Prosecution in the Grazzini-Rucki case. This interview covers a variety of subjects including abuse allegations, family court failures, and interference in the investigation of the runaway Rucki girls by Michael Brodkorb.

During the interview Detective Dronen admits that confidential information about the open investigation into the disappearance of the Rucki girls had been obtained by Brodkorb. Dronen was concerned because Brodkorb was contacting witnesses without the knowledge or consent of the Lakeville police, who were handling the investigation. Lakeville’s investigation into the missing Rucki girls became contaminated as Brodkorb contacted witnesses before the police could secure the information and then leaked sensitive details in his articles, which were widely distributed. 

musolf2

Additional testimony from Doug Dahlen reveals that the Star Tribune reporters, Brandon Stahl and Michael Brodkorb, knew ahead of time that police would raid the ranch to take the Girls. Dahlen states that reporters from the Star Tribune were calling the Grant County Courthouse a day ahead of time, and were asking when a warrant would be served.  This leak of information, and the inappropriate involvement of the Star Tribune has created an unsafe environment for the Rucki girls, whose safety and well-being came second to the media sensation their “recovery” would generate.

Doug and Gina Dahlen cared for the runaway Rucki sisters, who refused to return to father David Rucki because he abused them. Source, ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/minnesota-sisters-missing-years-lived-plain-sight-time/story?id=38190862

Doug and Gina Dahlen cared for the runaway Rucki sisters, who refused to return to father David Rucki because he abused them. Source, ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/minnesota-sisters-missing-years-lived-plain-sight-time/story?id=38190862

Ironically, Brodkorb blasted all the adults who “did nothing” while the Rucki girls were missing – and now he qualifies as one of those adults, seeing that he had knowledge of where the Girls were staying for at least 24 hours and did nothing to notify local police or intervene. This happening while Brodkorb admits father, David Rucki, was an emotional wreck over the disappearance of his daughters. So Brodkorb also lied to Rucki and did not disclose to him that he knew where the Girls were, and let him suffer. All of this so Brodkorb could break the the story that would make his comeback after an adulterous affair, and a drinking problem destroyed his political career and nearly ended his life.

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Also in the interview, Musolf discloses that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was afraid of ex-husband David Rucki, and specifically stated “she acted like she was terrified of this man” and “she thought he would kill her if he had the chance. Musolf comments that Sandra used burner phones because she was afraid Rucki would track her down (a tracking device was placed in the wheel well of a friend’s vehicle. Police traced that device back to Rucki’s house). The behaviors Musolf describe in Sandra are common in women who have suffered abuse. In the criminal trial, it was portrayed that Sandra used burner phones to avoid arrest for the disappearance of her daughters. Evidence suggests otherwise, yet Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn M. Keena  promotes a lie. This is prosecutorial misconduct.

Musolf candidly expressed fear of Rucki and stated she “did not trust David Rucki” and was concerned that he would harm her because she assisted his daughters in running away, and was a friend of Sandra. This is coming from a prosecution witness who testified against Sandra, yet is also building her case. Sandra plead the affirmative defense in charges that she hid her daughters from Rucki, meaning she took action to protect her children from imminent harm or abuse. Sandra was found guilty of felony deprivation of parental rights; critics argue she could not prove abuse happened yet evidence that abuse did happen continues to mount even after Sandra’s conviction.

David Rucki

David Rucki

In a bizarre twist. Musolf tells Detective Dronen that she believes that the Rucki girls have “alot of psychological” and should not be placed with either parent when they are found. What is so unbelievable is that Musolf is a self-proclaimed victim advocate. Musolf’s attitude and actions could pose a risk of harm to an abuse victim or other vulnerable person because she shows no understanding about abuse, and its effects on children. Also troubling is that Musolf is basically stating that Sandra, the victim, has said or done something that is comparable to the horrific abuse Rucki inflicted on his family. NO victim of abuse could ever do anything to justify the abuse inflicted on them. If a so-called “advocate” does not understand that, what is she really advocating for? Detective Dronen agrees with Musolf, and says he thinks the Rucki girls should become wards of the state to get the help they need. 

Wards of the state? The “help” the county offered has done nothing but bring pain and upheaval to the Grazzini-Rucki family. How much more damage will Dakota County inflict on Sandra and her children? .

Help raise awareness, and fight for a worthy cause – please comment, like, repost and share.

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com/

Public Domain: http://chainimage.com/

 

Note: Musolf is the only person who has not been criminally charged for her role in assisting the runaway Rucki girls. Musolf remained in contact with the Rucki girls in the days after they ran away and arranged their interview with Fox 9. During the Fox 9 interview, both Girls disclosed allegations of abuse committed by their father and expressed fear of him. Musolf was listed as a witness for the Prosecution in the Sandra Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial but did not testify in court.

Special thanks to Lion News for posting this video 🙂

Media Mayhem: Has Stahl and Brodkorb Gone Too Far Reporting on the Grazzini-Rucki Case??

Journalists should abide by ethics and standards so that their reporting is accurate, fair and does not cause undue harm to its subjects.

The Justice Blog is reposting a previous article from Red Herring Alert that offers a variety of perspectives on the Grazzini-Rucki case, including reports of behavior from reporter Brandon Stahl, and Michael Brodkorb, that suggests their handling of the Grazzini-Rucki case was unethical and exploitative. Further, Stahl and Brodkorb’s appearance at the Ranch in the hours before the Rucki girls were recovered likely caused significant anxiety and concern for the teenagers, and has directly interfered with an active police investigation. 

Red Herring Alert wrote: “Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported to Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

It is unclear if the reporters were tipped off by law enforcement or someone else. Brodkorb says about his role in discovering the whereabouts of the runaway Rucki girls, “Over the summer, my sources provided information that led me to a location near where the girls were found less than two weeks ago. I’m convinced that if I had knocked on one too many doors, I might have made it more difficult for law enforcement to find S and G.Michael Brodkorb: Why I wrote about the Rucki case

Brodkorb also says, “The contacts I had made in the political world ended up being very helpful in generating leads on the Rucki case…Michael Brodkorb: Minnesota Politics and Beyond

Another concerning incident involves Michael Brodkorb contacting a witness, and influencing her view of the case BEFORE police contacted this person. The testimony of this witness was later used to help build a case against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki: Potential State Witness Wrote Letter to Judge Knutson – Criticizing Court’s Failure to Protect Rucki Children from Abuse

Has Stahl and Brodkorb gone too far in their reporting of the Grazzini-Rucki case?

“Interesting, No?” Posted on the Red Herring Alert on November 21, 2015 by Susan:

Local media coverage of the missing Rucki girls has been politically motivated.  It is very clear.

It is interesting to note that Michael Brodkorb, who always claimed his sole motivation was to find the missing girls, has not written anything about them being found last Wednesday, but on Thursday, did post an article about Michelle MacDonald.

No post about his relief that the girls were found.  No post with relief that the girls can tell their story.  No post reporting how relieved the father is.  Nope.  Just simply an article that shows his antipathy of Michelle MacDonald.

As a matter of fact, coverage by Brodkorb fell off after August 24, 2015, which is odd because the case was just ramping up after a warrant was issued for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki on August 19, 2015.

Brodkorb’s recent articles on the missing Rucki sisters:

Image courtesy of Bluebay at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Bluebay at freedigitalphotos.net

Sources tell us that an unmarked vehicle with  its flashers on was the first to arrive on the scene on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the day that law enforcement officials located S. Rucki and G. Rucki.

It is further reported to Red Herring Alert that Doug Dahlen, who lives at the home where the girls were located,  arrived home to find a vehicle with its flashers on, parked on a gravel road.  Not knowing who was in the vehicle, he stopped to inquire if the driver was OK.  The vehicle sat there for 3 hours before law enforcement arrived.  Brandon Stahl was in the vehicle and went to the door asking for an interview.  He gave Mr. Dahlen his business card, identifying himself as Brandon stahl of the Star Tribune.

Brandon Stahl (Source: Red Herring Alert)

Brandon Stahl (Source: Red Herring Alert)

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Michael Brodkorb, source: startribune.com

Our sources also tell us that law enforcement treated the girls very well, and promised to listen to what they have to say.

It is deeply disturbing to know how law enforcement has tipped off local media to parts of the investigation, prior to any public reports from the officials.  Isn’t it pathetic that the Star Tribune sat there for 3 hours prior to the arrival of law enforcement?  3 hours!

This writer appeared on Tim Kinley’s show Speechless MN, on October 29th to talk about the Rucki case.  Tim made an observation about the media’s handling of Family Court:

Let’s face it. Divorced parents are treated as second class citizens in every state in the nation. No one cares if your child is withheld from you.  The interest in the Rucki case would have received little attention, if not for the fact that the GOP needs Michelle MacDonald to go away.  She came within 7 points of winning a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014.  If you listened to Ron Rosenbaum’s show last Thursday, you can hear his obsession with Michelle MacDonald.  Dede Evavold will be posting about that soon.

We also know that the Minnesota Family Court would like MacDonald to go away, as well.  She is bad for business as usual in the courts.  To have her disbarred for this case would make many people very happy, but the truth is, she came in after the case was a mess.  If Michelle MacDonald were to be disbarred for this, let’s hope that Lisa Henry would be, too. She was the lawyer who participated in the phone conference with Judge David Knutson, and was too timid to tell Judge Knutson that it was unlawful for him to throw Sandra out of her home with less than two hours notice.

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

Judge David L Knutson (source: http://lionnews00.blogspot.com)

In all my years of Family Court experience, that began with my own ordeal in 1998 and spanned eight long years, I have not seen any kind of intervention when children are withheld from a loving parent.

Tim Kinley mentioned the Caroline Rice case (accidentally referred to her as Susan Rice, but it is Caroline).  You can read about the Rice case and the appeal.

Minnesota Court Overturns Mom’s Conviction Sends Message of Hope

Caroline Rice Appeals Court Decision Minnesota

In my opinion, the Rucki case was driven by political vitriol and the courts fail to do what they can to ensure both parents are allowed to spend time with their children.  They also fail to protect children from abusive parents, who can be a mother or a father.  Readers will have to draw their own conclusion about these issues.

I recommend readers watch the full episode of Speechless MN with Tim Kinley, and check out other pertinent videos on Tim’s Speechless MN You Tube Channel!

Unwarranted: Was the Arrest Warrant Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Improperly Handled?

wantedposter2a

In August 2015, a sealed warrant for the arrest of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was “accidentally” posted on the public webpage of the Dakota County Sheriff’s office leading to the warrant being widely published, and shared, in news media outlets across the country.

Sensitive information about the sealed warrant was also given to abusive ex-husband, David Rucki, from The Star Tribune. This means that David was given information, and knew about, the arrest warrant BEFORE Sandra did. 

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie claims the leak was just a “glitch”. Dakota County’s mishanding of Sandra’s arrest warrant is NOT just a “glitch” – it is a serious error that has violated Sandra’s due process rights, and the questionable way the arrest warrant was handled may have greater legal implications.

Could this “glitch” cost Dakota County their case against Sandra? A recent court ruling states that improper service is grounds for dismissal; certainly in this case, there was not only improper service but outright negligence to protect information so sensitive that the judge ordered the warrant to be sealed. 

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie (courtesy photo)

 

Signed, Sealed, but NOT Delivered

When someone is suspected of a crime, law enforcement obtains a warrant of arrest which is a document signed by a judge authorizing the detention of an individual, or authorizing the search and seizure of an individual’s property.

In the case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, a nation wide warrant for arrest was submitted by Prosecuting Attorney Kathryn M. Keena before a judge, and put under a seal on August 12, 2015. Sandra was charged with 3 counts of felony deprivation of parental rights. According to Keena a seal was needed “because disclosure could cause defendant to flee, hide, or otherwise prevent execution of the warrant. The seal was to last until Sandra is arrested, and returned to the state.

Amended Warrant Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki

NOTE: Sandra is a flight attendant with an impeccable service record; she works with the public in her job, and has never been a danger to anyone. Just the opposite, Sandra has a reputation for providing a high quality care to customers, and is known for her easy smile, and gentle approach. Sandra has been staying in Florida in between flights, she has a squeaky-clean background, and has no prior criminal history.  

Was a Sealed Warrant Necessary?

A seal means that the warrant is filed in secret, and its existence will not be made public. The subject of the warrant has no idea that they are wanted on charges until they are apprehended. A sealed warrant is usually reserved for special circumstances where public knowledge may jeopardize the investigation and/or issuance of the warrant.

Putting a seal on an arrest warrant is NOT a common procedure; and is even more extraordinary when used against an ordinary Minnesota Mom. Sandra has no prior criminal history, and has attended all scheduled court dates (related to ongoing custody issues) – even travelling from out of state to do so. Sandra has also worked at the same job for over 20 years, and maintains a stable lifestyle. She posed absolutely no risk of danger to anyone, and was certainly not a flight risk. 

Further, the police knew exactly where to find Sandra – according to the police report, the Lakeville police had previously issued search warrants for the airline she worked for, and had no problem finding out her address, phone number, bank account information and employment information. Sandra was being monitored before the warrant was issued. While this was happening, Sandra maintained her normal routine, and did not display any signs that she would evade any legal process.

A summons to appear at a court date would have been sufficient, rather than going to these unnecessary and costly, efforts used by Dakota County. Further, criminal charges are NOT evidence of guilt.  A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Somebody’s Watching Me… (Free Image: http://www.acclaimimages.com)

Sealed Warrant Goes Public Due to a “Glitch”

Despite the exhaustive efforts of Dakota County to seal the arrest warrant, there was a glitch (or perhaps a leak?) and out of all the warrants entered in the system…somehow only the sealed warrant belonging to Sandra was “accidentally” posted publicly on the Dakota County Sheriff’s website.

And if that was not bad enough (gasp!) the Star Tribune, who had been in contact with Lakeville police for months, was alerted and went public, announcing an arrest warrant had been issued for Sandra.

Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune broke news of the arrest warrant on August 18th: Mother sought in case of two missing Lakeville girls

Brandon Stahl of the Star Tribune

Followed by Michael Brodkorb, a former reporter with Star Tribune, posting an update on August 21st on his Twitter feed, mentioning the supposedly sealed arrest warrant: https://twitter.com/mbrodkorb/status/634764171125592064

The Star Tribune then informed Sandra’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, about the sealed warrant…and gleefully spread the news across multiple social media venues. The seal had been broken on the warrant as the news spread nationwide thanks to the special efforts made by Stahl and Brodkorb at the Star Tribune. Keep in mind one of the common reasons that a warrant is sealed is to prevent news of the warrant from reaching the media, who could compromise the case with disclosure.

Michael Brodkorb~ terminated reporter, Star Tribune

By “coincidence” a local news outlet reports on the close relationship between Lt. Jason Polinski of the Lakeville Police Department and the Star Tribune, who was working on the Grazzini-Rucki case, “A Star Tribune story in April provided new information that helped police build a case for an arrest warrant for Grazzini-Rucki, who previously was considered a “person of interest,” in the case, Polinski said. ” Police looking for mother in disappearance of daughters in Minnesota

Even David Rucki himself acknowledged the connection,”..Rucki added he was “very grateful” for the assistance of law enforcement and media attention..” David had alot to be “grateful” for considering Michael Brodkorb of The Star Tribune tipped him off about the sealed warrant. Father of missing Lakeville sisters ‘relieved’ by warrant for ex-wife’s arrest

At that point there is no reason for the warrant to remain sealed. Instead, providing Sandra with a notice to appear in court would have been appropriate. Instead, Dakota County relentlessly pursued Sandra. At great cost to tax payers, Dakota County had the warrant removed from the public website and then re-sealed. Sandra was later apprehended by U.S. Marshalls, in Florida, and transported across the country to be brought back to Minnesota to answer to criminal charges. 

Keep in mind that Sandra works as a flight attendant, and she could have easily arranged her own transportation back to the state – as she had done numerous times in the past to answer to proceedings related to her custody dispute.

Recent Case Presents Compelling Reason for Dismissal

The significance of the sealed warrant being publicly posted, and then making the news outlets, is that information about the sealed warrant was not only improperly released but also improperly served. You can not “re-seal” a sealed warrant that has been this compromised; it serves no purpose. Even more important, every individual is protected by laws designed to uphold personal liberty. These laws are in place to limit the government’s ability to take our freedom or property without due process. 

In the 2011 case of Jones v. Brown County (Civil No. 11-CV-568, SRN/FLN) the District Court found that, “ Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), improper service of process may be grounds for dismissal. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5). In this case, none of the defendants have been properly served. “

The Court then dismissed a claim made against Brown County because, “It is clear that process was not properly served in this case. “ And, “With regard to the individual defendants, under Minnesota Law service may be effectuated “by delivering a copy [of the summons and complaint] to the individual personally or by leaving a copy at the individual’s usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.” Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03(a). The only attempt at service upon the individual defendants in this case was by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the county offices in which these defendants work. These mailings did not constitute service by mail, as the mailings did not include two copies of Form 22, or a substantially similar notice and acknowledgment form, as required by Minnesota law. Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05. Plaintiffs failed to meet the requirements for service upon an individual. Plaintiffs claims should be dismissed for insufficient service of process…

And because Plaintiffs improperly served the original Complaint, this action was never properly commenced. See R. 3.01. “ Source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mnd-0_11-cv-00568/pdf/USCOURTS-mnd-0_11-cv-00568-1.pdf

Given that the sealed warrant was improperly served, the Prosecutor’s Office should promptly dismiss all charges. Plz stay tuned to the Justice 4 Grazzini-Rucki Family blog for news and updates!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalimages.net

 

An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. “ ~ Mahatma Gandhi