Michael Volpe

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This is not the first time Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks has ruled on matters related to Grazzini-Rucki.

In September 2012, Grazzini-Rucki was ordered out of her home, out of the state, and ordered not to contact anyone she knew.

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Months after a Minnesota Appeal’s Court Judge ruled that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was capable of paying nearly $1,000 per month in child support, the same judge ruled that paying several hundred dollars in her ex-husband’s court costs would be too burdensome.

On December 1, 2017, Minnesota Appeal’s Court Judge Jill Flaskamps Halbrooks ruled that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki paying for David Rucki’s court costs.

“Although David Rucki prevailed on appeal, it appears that allowance of the claimed costs and disbursements would cause financial hardship, in light of the district court’s determination that appellant (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki) is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis.”

When someone receives in forma pauperis status, they are deemed to poor to afford an attorney.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki has been represented in her divorce since early 2013 by Michelle MacDonald, who has worked pro-bono since receiving a $5,000 payment at the beginning of the case.

The same Judge, Jill Flaskamps-Halbrooks, ruled in September 2017 that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki had the ability to pay her ex-husband $975 per month in child support, despite Grazzini-Rucki being convicted of six felonies, homeless, and unemployed.

“Grazzini-Rucki asserts that she had no ability to pay child support because her employment with the airline was ‘in flux’ and that the CSM made ‘vague, generalized and conclusory findings’ that did not justify imputing income under Minn. Stat. § 518A.32, subd. 1.5 But these assertions misconstrue the record, particularly the evidence admitted during the September 2016 hearing. The CSM found that after Grazzini-Rucki was released from jail, she submitted a document in March 2016 that stated that she currently worked as a flight attendant Grazzini-Rucki testified, and the CSM acknowledged, that her status of employment was unknown at the time of the September 2016 hearing. But Grazzini-Rucki did not provide any evidence that her employment status had changed or that her employment had been terminated after March 2016.” Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks asserted in her August ruling, when she confirmed that an earlier ruling ordering Grazzini-Rucki to pay her ex-husband $975 per month was appropriate.

After Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks ruled in his favor in the child support appeal, his attorney, Lisa Elliott, filed to recoup his court costs.

Elliott did not respond to an email for comment.

David Rucki was granted child support even though he already received 100% of a multi-million-dollar estate which included numerous homes, classic cars, and the entirety of a thriving trucking business.

Rucki was also granted sole custody of the children and Grazzini-Rucki has not been allowed to see her children since early 2013; the divorce decision, handed down by Judge David Knutson, is one of the most one sided in the history of divorces.

Emails to Flaskamps-Halbrooks and Beau Berentson, public affairs officer for the Minnesota courts, were left unreturned.

The original ruling, made by Judge Maria Pastoor, was made in August 2016, while Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was awaiting sentencing for her role in hiding her two oldest daughters after they were forced by the Minnesota court system to live with their father.

Their father, David Rucki, has a long history of abuse including: a bar fighta road rage incidentincidents of stalkingmultiple violations of restraining orders and choking his wife.

A child protective services report stated that his son, Nico, claimed that David Rucki stuck a gun to his head when he was eight years old.

None of this evidence of abuse was allowed into her criminal case by the trial judge, Karen Asphaug.

The judge in their custody matter, David Knutson, also excluded all this evidence when custody was being determined.

This is not the first time Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks has ruled on matters related to Grazzini-Rucki.

In September 2012, Grazzini-Rucki was ordered out of her home, out of the state, and ordered not to contact anyone she knew.

The ruling, made by Judge Knutson, was made after a telephonic conference which Grazzini-Rucki did not participate in.

When Judge Knutson refused to reverse the order, Grazzini-Rucki’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald, appealed to Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks who said the order was constitutional because it was a temporary order.

Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks also upheld Grazzini-Rucki’s conviction despite nearly all evidence that David Rucki is an abuser being stricken by the trial judge, Karen Asphaug.

There was also witness tampering and jury tampering.

In a police interview approximately a month before the trial, Grazzini-Rucki’s daughter, Samantha, told a police officer that her father was pressuring her to recant previous allegations of abuse.

““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 told the detective in that interview.

Grazzini-Rucki’s defense was that her ex-husband was violent and abusive, and she hid her daughters to protect them from danger.

Judge Flaskamps-Halbrooks decided that Grazzini-Rucki received a fair trial despite these issues being presented in appeal.

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