Did you bring your toothbrush, Mr. Nathan?
If you read Brandon Stahl’s story in the Strib a week ago about the two missing teenage girls from Lakeville, and attorney Michelle MacDonald’s representation of the mother of the girls, or the story here remarking about the eerie equanimity with which the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and her attorney bear the continued disappearance of the girls, or Michael Brodkorb’s Our Voices story in the Strib posted Sunday night, the leitmotif of all three of them is a fellow named Dale Nathan.
(Michael Brodkorb has a new story about this case, posted last evening, April 28th, introducing us to a new member of the cast of this thrilling wacko-drama, Michael Rhedin, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s hunky new boyfriend, a guard at the Hennepin County workhouse and part time process server and tough guy for Michelle MacDonald’s law office. On this case.)
Nathan told Stahl and repeated to Michael Brodkorb that he and Grazzini-Rucki took the girls from the family’s Lakeville home in April of 2013; they’re still missing. According to the Stahl story:
After Olson [the mother’s sister] told the court she could no longer care for the children, Knutson ordered them to be taken from Olson’s home and placed solely with Love [the father’s sister].
That day, April 19, 2013, police brought the girls to the Lakeville home. Love told the Star Tribune they were there for about half an hour when she went down to the basement.
“That is the last time I saw the girls,” Love said.
Surveillance video obtained from a neighbor showed the girls running to a red truck, according to police. After a few minutes, Love realized the girls were gone. She called police.
Dale Nathan, a longtime critic of the state courts and a suspended attorney, told the Star Tribune that he was with Grazzini-Rucki in her car the day the girls ran away. He said the girls ran from the home to their mother’s car, and the four drove around for two to three hours. Police have never interviewed Nathan.
Three days after the kids ran away, their mother filed an appeal in court that included statements from each girl.
I objected to the Strib’s characterization as the girls “running away;” as young minors, they were abducted, apparently by their own mother and Dale Nathan. I am inclined to take Nathan at his word about the existence of the incident, because he implicates himself in some very serious conduct.
Nathan is described as a “suspended attorney,” and you can read about why he was suspended here. The suspension’s been in effect from the day it was ordered, November 26, 2003, to the present day. If you read the Supreme Court’s opinion, you will hear the echo of the circumstances of the missing Lakeville girls. Here’s a sentence from the order:
Nathan’s threats to judges and parties if they refused to comply with his demands, and the fact that Nathan’s client was convicted of a crime as a result of following his advice not to appear in court and produce the child, are particularly troubling examples of misconduct.
Here the advice Nathan gave:
In addition to threatening to violate the court order to cooperate with and pay for the investigator, the referee found that Nathan violated and assisted his client in violating other court orders in this matter. After the judge adopted the investigator’s visitation recommendation and ordered a transition from supervised to unsupervised visitation, the mother did not bring the child to a scheduled supervised visitation. The father’s attorney moved for a contempt hearing and the mother went into hiding and did not appear. In an affidavit, the mother stated that she did not appear on Nathan’s advice, and that throughout the time she was in hiding with the child, Nathan advised her not to turn herself in. The father did not see the child again for over a year.
The mother was convicted of violating Minn. Stat. sec. 609.26, which prohibits the concealment of a minor child to deprive a parent of parenting rights. It’s kind of kidnapping lite. Here’s another tidbit from the suspension order, from another matter handled by Nathan:
The final piece of harassing and frivolous conduct in this matter is a federal lawsuit Nathan filed against the social worker, judge, assistant county attorney, psychologist, and one of the foster parents, among others, alleging their actions violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2000). The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the federal district judge granted the motion and awarded the psychologist $2,607.09 in attorney fees.
You will recall that at one point Michelle MacDonald filed a federal civil rights suit against the family court judge, David Knutson, in the Grazzini-Rucki case.
Nathan was described as engaging in a pattern of threatening, harassing, obstructive, and truculent conduct. When the courts didn’t see it Nathan’s way, it was always because it was the court’s fault.
You do see a pattern emerging, don’t you?
Dale Nathan has made a post-lawyering career out of his “the courts are not legitimate” stück. Michelle MacDonald apparently wants to do the same with her Family Innocence Project, which uses, incidentally, a pigeon as an avatar. Not the dove of peace. A pigeon. I find this really Freudian, my friends.
It is a matter of considerable curiosity to me how Dale Nathan and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki connected to concoct a plan to spirit away two minor children.
It is also a matter of considerable curiosity to me to know how Michelle MacDonald would respond to a court order to her and to her client to produce the girls, and whether the failure to do so would have the same consequences as it did to Dale Nathan.
I hope so.
– o O o –
In fact, I think a family court hearing on an order to show cause, directed to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and Michelle MacDonald, might be just the ticket here. And subpoena Dale Nathan as a witness.
C. The three of you are here today to explain where the two missing daughters of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki are.
N. I ain’t sayin’ nuthin’.
C We’ll deal with you in a moment, Mr. Nathan. Ms. Grazzini-Rucki and Ms. McDonald, where are the girls?
M. [nervously twittering] You mean right now? At this exact moment?
C. Don’t be evasive, Michelle, I am not in the mood for it.
M. Well, they could be anywhere really, if they aren’t here, right? It’s impossible to answer that question, epistemically.
G. We don’t know where the girls are.
C. It’s reported that Mr. Nathan here – whose case of lockjaw I am going to treat very shortly – says that he and you, Ms. Grazzini-Rucki, spirited the girls off in April of 2013. He said it to two different journalists on two different occasions.
M. My client doesn’t know where the girls are.
C. Did she lose them?
M. Well, no.
C. She didn’t take them? They voluntarily ran, without shoes and socks, to a vehicle driven by the grizzled Mr. Nathan over here?
M. I guess that’s what happened, Your Honor. I know it’s hard to believe.
[snorting] No sh-, really?
G. Well, Your Honor, I . . .
M. Shut up, Sandra.
C. And Mr. Nathan, will you confirm what you said to Mr. Stahl and Mr. Brodkorb?
N. Nope. I ain’t talkin’ to you.
C. This is a well-worn path for you, isn’t it, Mr. Nathan?
N. Couldn’t say.
C. You refuse to answer any questions here today?
N. Yup. I mean, nope.
C. You brought your toothbrush, right?
N. Yup. I know the drill.
C. Okay. Bailiff, do you have the shackles?
B. Yes, Your Honor.
C. Please escort Mr. Nathan to the Memory Recovery Unit; I’ll check on him every couple of weeks.
B. Yes, Your Honor.
C. [addressing MacDonald and Grazzini-Rucki] As for you two, you will return at 9 AM tomorrow with either 1) the girls, or 2) your toothbrushes. Do you have any questions?
M. Your Honor, this is highly irregular.
C. This whole case has been highly irregular. I am going to bring a little regularity to it. Adjourned until tomorrow at nine. [bangs the gavel loudly]
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