The latest coverage on the #grazzinirucki case from journalist Michael Volpe….
“The court acknowledged that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is currently earns no money but used the concept of imputed income to justify its ruling.
Imputed income allows judges to base child support based on an income level the judge deems is reasonable even if the party is not currently earning that living.”
That was the peculiar ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals authored by Judge Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks.
Judge Halbrooks upheld a decision by Judge Maria Pastoor of the Minnesota’s First Judicial District who ordered Grazzini-Rucki to pay her ex-husband, David Rucki, $975 per month in child support.
Pastoor’s original ruling was even more bizarre because she made the ruling while Grazzini-Rucki was incarcerated for helping to hide her two oldest daughters after David Knutson forced them into the custody of her ex-husband’s sister, who the two girls insisted was abusive to them.
“Grazzini-Rucki argues that the CSM erred by imputing potential income to her because the CSM (1) disregarded her actual income, (2) failed to make a proper statutory analysis, and (3) improperly adopted a level of income determined by the district court in a prior order. A CSM must calculate a parent’s income based on her potential income.” Judge Halbrooks stated in the order, justifying how a homeless woman can be forced to pay child support.
Judge Halbrooks continued: “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.”
While Grazzini-Rucki is technically still employed by American Airlines she is not allowed to earn any money unless and until her felony convictions are expunged.
The court acknowledged that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is currently earns no money but used the concept of imputed income to justify its ruling.
Imputed income allows judges to base child support based on an income level the judge deems is reasonable even if the party is not currently earning that living.
In this case, Judge Pastoor and Judge Halbrooks have concluded that, despite having six felonies on her record, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki should be able to find work which pays her in excess of $40,000 per year.
Sandra Grazzini and her ex-husband David Rucki owned a trucking company during their marriage which generated millions in income, but Judge David Knutson, who presided over much of their divorce, ordered David Rucki to get 100% of their marital estate while ordering Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to pay child support after he also ordered sole-custody to go to David Rucki.
Judge Knutson ordered David Rucki to receive sole custody despite overwhelming evidence he is violent: a bar fight, a road rage incident, incidents of stalking, multiple violations of restraining orders and choking his wife.
To add insult to injury, Lisa Elliott, David Rucki’s attorney, filed a motion on August 15, 2017, asking for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to pay for all the filing fees- $3563 in total- which Elliott accrued since entering the case in 2011.
Elliott did not respond to an email for comment.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki reached what appeared to be an amicable divorce in May 2011, with David Rucki representing himself.
The judge who initially signed the divorce decree, Judge Tim Wermeger, even stated: “The parties were able to settle all issues arising out of the dissolution of the marriage including: child custody and support, spousal maintenance, disposition of real and personal property, and the payment of debts and attorney fees.”
Lisa Elliott joined the case a month after this divorce decree- which is supposed to end a divorce- was signed and the divorce has gone on in perpetuity since her arrival.
Judge David Knutson placed himself on the divorce shortly after Elliott’s arrival; Elliott and David Rucki claimed he was somehow defrauded in the initial eleven page divorce decree.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals would not make Judge Halbrooks available for an interview, saying she cannot discuss her cases.
Beau Berentson, public affairs officer for the Minnesota Court System, did not respond to an email for comment.