Vote for Justice Paul Thissen
Just flip your ballot over and do it, or you might get Michelle MacDonald
This is a race that I should have written about earlier. To vote in it, you have to turn your ballot over. If you live in the 4th Judicial District (Hennepin County), there are a lot of circles to fill in for all the judges, but only one judge is running opposed (so it’s mostly an exercise in eye-hand coordination): Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Paul Thissen. (There are also a few contested district court seats in other districts.)
Justice Thissen’s opponent is the Mistress of Chaos, the greatest disinformation and distraction artist I have ever encountered in forty years as a lawyer. And I have seen a few, as you might imagine.
Michelle MacDonald is the Phil Niekro of lawyers, only without the success. For the uninitiated, Niekro was a knuckleball pitcher, and no one, including the catcher or Niekro himself, knew where the pitch was going. The unfortunate catchers who were the other half of a Niekro battery used mitts that looked like barn doors. He didn’t pitch to a target so much as to a vicinity.
This is Michelle MacDonald’s fourth run for the Supreme Court. The first time she ran, in 2014, she had the Republican endorsement, before the party decided that was a really dumb idea. MacDonald is the reason it concluded it was a dumb idea. Heck, then party chair Keith Downey wouldn’t let her on the airplane to do a Republican candidate fly around. (“Oh, you’re too heavy, Michelle; we wouldn’t be able to bring our Attorney General candidate, Scotty Newman!”)
When MacDonald ran with the RPM endorsement in 2014, she got 680,265 votes to Associate Justice David Lillehaug’s 777,812, garnering a higher percentage of the vote than either the RPM’s candidates for the Senate, Mike McFadden, or for governor, Jeff Johnson. (Not everybody turned the ballot over, so there were fewer votes case for Supreme Court. This is a cautionary tale.)
In 2016, MacDonald got 887,656 votes in a losing effort to Associate Justice Natalie Hudson.
In 2018, MacDonald got 825,770 votes in another losing effort, this time to Associate Justice Margaret Chutich.
It would be tempting to charge MacDonald off as a gadfly and a flake, but that would be a mistake. There are a lot of voters who think she’s just exactly their kind of gadfly and flake. Somewhere north of 800,000 of them, apparently.
Some of you know that I am something of a student of Michelle MacDonald’s colorful career, which I have studied with a morbid fascination. I am also a member of the increasingly-less exclusive club of lawyers who have cross examined Michelle MacDonald under oath.
MacDonald ran for the Supreme Court in 2014 on the back of her representation of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki in a venomous custody dispute. Not only did Grazzini-Rucki lose the custody battle, she wound up being convicted on multiple felony counts of hiding two of her children from their father, the custodial parent. But it’s the courts that are corrupt, according to MacDonald.
In 2016, she claimed to have endorsement of a non-existent committee of Republicans, the “Judicial Selection Committee.” That didn’t work out so well, either. She wound up being fined by a panel of judges of the Office of Administrative Hearings; that’s where I cross examined her.
MacDonald has been previously disciplined and put on probation by the Minnesota Supreme Court, a court where she now wants a seat. But the absolute cherry on top of this banana split is the fact that a second round of disciplinary proceedings was brought against MacDonald for commencing a frivolous and vexatious defamation lawsuit against Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann for their chronicling of MacDonald’s antics, including in the Grazzini-Rucki custody matter. Discipline has been recommended by a referee (fact finder) for the Supreme Court; the discipline petition is now before the Court for decision.
Michelle MacDonald does not have a “judicial temperament” bone in her body. She would only bring contempt and obloquy on the Court. It is bizarre to consider that MacDonald might sit on the court that is supervising her discipline. (Really, though, it isn’t even clear that she could be sworn in as a Justice if she was suspended or on probation.)
Justice Paul Thissen, on the other hand, has proven to be an able and empathic jurist since his appointment to the Court in 2018.
This one isn’t even close, friends.
Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.