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Judge Halbrooks: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki Too Poor For Court Costs But Can Pay Child Support

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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. More

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Though the court has ruled Sandra Grazzini-Rucki too poor to pay for her own filings, her ex-husband’s attorney thinks she should pay for his.

4 Comments

Michael Volpe

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Lisa Elliott, the long-time attorney for David Rucki, filed a notice for a taxation of costs- meaning she wants the other side to pay for the costs of filing- with the appeals court.

In her response, Grazzini-Rucki’s attorney, Michelle MacDonald explained to the court that her client is a pauper.

“Appellant, Sandra Sue Grazzini-Rucki, hereby objects to the taxation of costs and disbursements dated September 1, 2017,” MacDonald said in her response, “on the ground that: Appellant was granted informa pauperis status and is a pauper.”

By granting Grazzini-Rucki informa pauperis status the court has deemed Grazzini-Rucki too poor to afford to pay for her own filing fees and they are thereby waived; but that hasn’t stopped Elliott from demanding she pay for her client’s filing fees.

MacDonald, after receiving a $5,000 retainer in early 2013, has been working on Grazzini-Rucki’s custody case pro-bono; she was once forced to conduct part of a custody trial while handcuffed to a wheelchair.

The latest filing follows a similar filing by Elliott in late August asking the court which handled her client’s divorce to order Grazzini-Rucki to pay for all the filing fees- in excess of $3,000- she accrued in that court.

The series of events defy logic. More

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