Michelle’s pitch for martyrdom
It is important to pay attention to your detractors. First, you might learn something, and second, it might reinforce your original point. You, my friends, will have decide which this is.
Someone sent me a link to a blog post at Red Herring Alert PAC about, inter alia, my writing about the issues surrounding Michelle MacDonald’s representation of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. It’s a stirring defense of MacDonald, and therefore, not surprisingly, a condemnation of me. But there is one sentence I’d like to quote:
Why did MacDonald take that picture? She has been trying to document all of the events of this case because she believes that this case will be the one to expose the criminal behavior in Family Courts. The way things are going, she may be right about that!
(MacDonald was originally quoted as saying that a deputy posed for the photo.)
I am going to quote myself now, something that is always enjoyable to do when I can:
Activist lawyers sometimes confuse a cause for a client, usually with regrettable results, and that certainly appears to be the case here.
We need to back up just a little and recall that MacDonald took photographs in a Dakota County courtroom in a case where she represented the wife, Grazzini-Rucki, in a venomous custody dispute. Which is against court rules: taking photographs, that is. When a sheriff’s deputy tried to issue her a tab charge for the violation, she became obstructive — MacDonald’s apparent M.O. — and was removed briefly to a holding area. She staged a “die in” while there, refusing to put on her shoes or glasses, or even stand up, and she had to be returned to the courtroom in a wheelchair.
As a result of MacDonald’s courtroom antics, her client was deprived of representation during the examination of several witnesses in the custody trial. MacDonald simply refused to participate, and sat at counsel table mute.
There was another camera in the courtroom, though (this one permitted by court rules). It was the court’s security camera.
At about forty-five minutes, you can see MacDonald escorted out of the courtroom; at about one hour and ten minutes, she returns in the wheelchair.
The writer at Red Herring calls this narcissistic and histrionic behavior “championing the little people.” I’d call it something else, but it’s a family website. I will say that it is, to a fellow member of the bar, one of the most shameful shenanigans I’ve ever witnessed, probably the most shameful. I’ve seen lawyers, sick with cancer, or burdened by illness or death in their own family, rise to advocate their client’s cause. This, this, incident, disgusts me.
I know I write about this a lot; I’m sorry, but the idea that this grandstanding fool came within a whisker of sitting on the Minnesota Supreme Court is hair raising.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki obtained a default divorce decree in this case under circumstances that the court found, in reopening the case, well, troubling. The case was reopened in June of 2011, and the final trial on the issues of custody did not happen until over two years later, in September of 2013.
During that time, Grazzini-Rucki was represented, serially, by a regiment of lawyers, until she found just the right one. David Rucki had the same one the whole time. I wrote that the case was venomous, but it was really venomous just on one side. In the two years between original case filing and the trial, petitioner Grazzini-Rucki filed a blizzard of motions, appeals, claims of illegality and unconstitutionality, and ancillary lawsuits, and David Rucki and his lawyer stood there and took it. David Rucki’s lawyer, Lisa Elliott, was magnificent.
And in the end, in the only possible, conceivable judgment that the court could make, it awarded custody of the five children to David. Including the two who were missing.
All of these things are public record.
There is one other thing that is in the public record, too. As Michael Brodkorb writes:
Grazzini-Rucki told the Star Tribune a court order prohibits her from speaking with police about her missing daughters. In an interview last week MacDonald confirmed, as first reported by Brandon Stahl, that no court order prevents Grazzini-Rucki from speaking with police about her missing daughters.
Not only is Grazzini-Rucki not prohibited from speaking with police, she is ordered to:
Update: Commenter Ned writes:
The writer at Red Herring doesn’t know what s/he’s talking about. MacDonald is standing up for the little people? What’s the rationale for that? I was divorced about 16 years ago. My lawyer told me the mother is normally given custody of the children unless you can prove some sort of circumstance that negates that. My ex had a drug problem (cocaine) and would go on weekend benders and leave my kids with me. I had enough and left. The court ended up giving me custody…much to my surprise as well as my lawyer’s. How does the father getting custody amount to a defeat for the “little” people? If anything it is the opposite.
Steve replies: MacDonald’s supporters say her efforts to get the tyrannical courts out of the custody business is championing the little guy. In many cases the divorcing spouses can work custody out, maybe with some mediation and a little prompting to enter it by the court, but sometimes, the parties are never going to agree. Then, somebody has to decide for them.
In those cases, who are you going to call? The Family Innocence Project, who will hit the parties on the head with a Bible until they see the light, or lights, anyway?
Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.