Cruel and Unusual Punishment


Sandra Grazzini-Rucki


A hearing was held on 12-7-15 for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki. Pre-trial is scheduled for 2-24-16 with a jury trial scheduled for the week of 3-07-16. Sandra waived her right to a speedy trial.

Sandra was initially charged with 3 felony counts of deprivation of parental rights. Three additional charges were added after the discovery of her daughters Samantha and Gianna in November 2015. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki now faces six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights.

The county is seeking an aggravated sentence against her, saying the girls’ father has been caused “particular cruelty” for being deprived of the girls for two years. Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena wrote in a notice to the court filed last week that David Rucki has “suffered extreme emotional pain beyond what is normal for this crime.”

Doesn’t this whole case seem to be “beyond what is normal” and the crime  pinned on the wrong parent? The “particular cruelty” would seem to be what the Rucki children and Sandra have suffered due to the abuse, not only by David Rucki, but by all the court players as well. The million dollar bail (now reduced to half a million) and the post bond conditions appear disproportionate to the alleged conduct of protecting children from violence.  

 “The sisters ran from their home while their parents were in the midst of a bitter custody dispute over their five children. The girls had accused their father of abusing them, but a court-appointed psychologist concluded that Grazzini-Rucki had turned her children against their father. A Dakota County judge granted the father full custody of his children in November 2013, saying there was no credible evidence that they were abused.” Brandon Stahl ~ StarTribune

The reason given for the excessive bail amount was due to the determination that Grazzini-Rucki presents a significant flight risk. Prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz acknowledged that the bail amount was large, given the charges, but argued that it took nine weeks for federal authorities to find Grazzini-Rucki, that she has ID cards in two states, and that she uses prepaid cellphones to avoid being tracked.

What’s interesting is that there is no evidence to back up the claims of a flight risk. The charges and warrant for Grazzini-Rucki’s arrest were filed in August 2015 under seal because of police fears that she would go into hiding. The warrant was mysteriously leaked and then taken off the Dakota Co. website a few days later. The display of records was blamed on a “glitch”.  I’m wondering if you can you still be considered a fugitive if you didn’t know about your warrant? Sandra is a flight attendant and was living with coworkers in Florida at the time.

With regard to the ID cards in 2 states, Sandra is listed as CONAX status which means that she once possessed a driver’s license in the state of MN, but it’s no longer valid. Driver’s licenses must be turned in before  a new one can be obtained in another state. The final argument by the prosecutor: “she uses prepaid cellphones to avoid being tracked” is also an invalid concern. If you have bad credit, (due to court ordered impoverishment), you’ll typically need to pay a higher deposit or opt for a month-by-month, pre-paid phone plan.’

Bail is supposed to do two things. One: make sure that someone comes back to court for their trial. Two: protect public safety. We know she’s not a threat to public safety and she’s dutifully attended court hearings in the past. All money bail does is keep those with insufficient funds locked up. If she doesn’t appear for a court date, the judge may order the bail be forfeited, meaning that she would lose her right to get the bail back at the end of the case. Do you really think Sandra would flee? She also has bond conditions that ensure she would appear for court.

Apparently, MN needs to be reminded of the eighth amendment ~ Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. As the United States Supreme Court said in Stack v. Boyle:

“This traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense, and serves to prevent the infliction of punishment prior to conviction.. . . Unless this right to bail before trial is preserved, the presumption of innocence, secured only after centuries of struggle, would lose its meaning.”

Faced with the prospect of being incarcerated until trial, most people would  accept a plea deal. Ms. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki however, is too smart to fall for the tricks of prosecutors and judges. She waived her right to a speedy trial so her attorney  can fully prepare and present evidence that will reveal the facts and demonstrate the joint and several liability of the failure to protect this family!


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