Red Herring Alert

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Bloggers Have Same First Amendment Protections as Traditional Journalists – HRO vs Evavold Should Be Dismissed

This ruling should be a clear reminder to misguided attorneys, corporations, developers or those with affluence to cease bullying or intimidating those who report the issues of the day.” ~ Choon James

The purpose of the free press clause of the First Amendment was to keep an eye on people in power and maintain a check on corruption.

Given the cutbacks in traditional media, bloggers have taken up the slack, serving as watchdogs — with attitude…Yet we still see an uninformed attitude from some lawmakers and judges who seem not to understand that digital and social media deserve the same respect as newspapers, magazines and broadcasters. ” ~ Ken Paulson, USA Today: Bloggers have rights, too: Column

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The Crystal Cox lawsuit is a landmark court case that defines, and upholds, the 1st Amendment protections of bloggers.. and is relevant when considering the recent HRO issued against Dede Evavold – blogging is an exercise of protected speech and does NOT constitute ‘harassment’!

Judge Karen Asphaug violated the 1st Amendment Rights of Dede Evavold by issuing a harassment restraining order against her that constrains, and censors, her exercise of free speech. A court cannot issue an order that violates the Constitutional rights of a party; as such the HRO issued by Judge Asphaug is void and should be immediately dismissed.

Dede writes about the HRO: “Most of you are aware of the fact that I was maliciously prosecuted and falsely convicted in the State of Minnesota vs Deirdre Evavold Case No.19HA-CR-15-4227.

There were several conditions beyond state sentencing guidelines imposed on me. However, the one condition that numerous attorneys and rank and file citizens are most amazed by is the restriction on my first amendment right to free speech (Judge Asphaug ordered that I may NOT reference the family involved in this case  on any social media)

As previously reported, I filed a witness tampering complaint against the petitioner in 2016. I had received a harassing and threatening extortion letter from petitioner’s attorney to intimidate me into deleting this blog and coerce me into changing not only my plea but to coerce me into changing my testimony in Sandra’s case. Also,  petitioner coerced and intimidated his daughter into recanting her testimony which led to the addition of 4 more felony charges against me.

Once again, the petitioner is violating the law by: retaliating against a person who was summoned as a witnes..”  For more info on the Evavold HRO please read: When We Lose Free Speech-We Lose Everything

CONSIDER THIS….

Court: Bloggers Have Same First Amendment Protections as Traditional Journalists

(Source: Slate, Daniel Politi, 1/18/2014)

“A blogger—and, really, the public at large—has the same protections for free speech in the United State as a traditional journalist and can only lose a defamation lawsuit on an issue of public concern if plaintiffs manage to prove negligence.

In a ruling that may come as a surprise to many bloggers who probably didn’t even realize this was even a question, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Crystal Cox, a blogger who had lost a defamation lawsuit in 2011 over a blog post that accused an Oregon bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of fraud, reports the Associated Press. A jury had awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million.

 

To be precise, the Ninth Circuit concludes that all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment,’ writes Eugene Volokh, who represented Cox.”

 

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Confirmed: Bloggers Have First Amendment Rights as Corporate Media

(Source: Huff Post, ‘The Blog’. Choon James, 1/24/2014)

“On January 17, 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Crystal L. Cox from Eureka, Montana who was sued by for defamation by Kevin Padrick, an attorney and his company – Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. Cox had written posts exposing fraud, corruption, money-laundering and so forth…
This ruling should be a clear reminder to misguided attorneys, corporations, developers or those with affluence to cease bullying or intimidating those who report the issues of the day.

Many concerned citizens have no choice but to create their own blogs and websites to level the playing field in this blossoming social media warfare.

The government has its plentiful public relations specialists, paid for by taxpayers. Corporations and special interests have their hired PR consultants. There are hired mercenaries who feel no qualms about spinning the facts. News media can be bought or controlled by big money or shut down.

It’s not uncommon for the public to read articles or watch the TV news only to lament the irregularities or inadequate reporting. Oftentimes, critical issues are shunned or ignored by corporate media because of entwined relationships.

Bloggers with information or have intimate experiences and understanding of issues are critically needed now, more than ever.

Blog away!”

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Court Says Bloggers are Journalists Too

(Source: Law Street, Anneliese Mahoney, 1/21/2014)

Last week, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the same standards that apply to journalists in print media also apply to bloggers and anyone else. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press member Gregg Leslie said, ‘it’s not a special right to the news media. So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.’

The case came from a Montana blogger named Crystal L. Cox….

The Court stated,

The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable.” They went on to cite cases in which individual speakers have been granted First Amendment rights, despite not being a part of the established press. For example, the First Amendment rights of authors have often been protected, regardless of their training, background, or affiliations.

This is very good news for anyone who has a blog or even a desire to post things in an individual capacity on their social network…”

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Judge Asphaug: Blogging More of a Safety Threat Than Frightening Neighbors, Intimidating Police

REPOST: Judge Asphaug: Blogging More of a Safety Threat Than Frightening Neighbors, Intimidating Police

In yet another bizarre development of the Grazzini-Rucki case, David Rucki claims that blogging is a threat to his safety, and that of his minor children and filed for a restraining order against Dede Evavold, co-defendant in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial. It should be noted that Rucki’s petition for a harassment order (HRO) did not actually name or specify what blog had allegedly harassed or threatened him. The HRO did not provide any evidence that Evavold was responsible for owning any blog or that she had posted anything about Rucki on social media that constitutes the legal definition of harassment (per 609.748 Harassment Restraining Order).

Without proving actual harassment occurred, and in violation of Evavold’s freedom of speech, Judge Karen Asphaug granted a HRO against her that is effective for 2 years. Ex Parte HRO

There are numerous problems with the HRO granted … including Judge Asphaug’s prior role on a criminal case involving David Rucki, where she was instrumental in dismissing charges that involved physical threats and harassment that he committed against the neighbors. 

Another connection is that Judge Asphaug’s husband, David Warg, shares a close professional and social relationship with Judge Tim Wermager, the first judge to preside over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce. A local newspaper article covering the swearing in of Judge Wermager alludes to political alliance, and deals made on the golf course that influence the court system, and judiciary, in Dakota County. Are these forces also at play in the Grazzini-Rucki case?

Judge Asphaug Dismissed Prior Criminal Charge Against David Rucki Despite Overwhelming Evidence of Threats, Harassment

That Judge Karen Asphaug quickly issued a HRO against Dede Evavold with absolutely no evidence to support any of the claims made is a sharp contrast to the role she played in dismissing a serious charge of disorderly conduct against Rucki, that involved harassment and threats. Many of Rucki’s acts were targeted against children. The police report filed from this incident includes remarks from Rucki that suggest he knew that if criminal charges were filed, the court would rule in his favor.

On September 8, 2009, Rucki was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after threatening and harassing his neighbor and swearing at and threatening their children. Police responding to the complaint noted in their report that Rucki tried to intimidate them and referred to the neighbor as a “bitch”. Explosive Expose by Michael Volpe: Did judges in Sandra Grazzini-Rucki case previously fix husband’s cases?

Officer Michelle Roberts writes in her report,”Suspect (Rucki) told me that he didn’t have to listen to me. I advised him that if he would not allow me to question him regarding the specifics, I would have no choice but to charge him with disorderly conduct based on their allegations.

He stated,’Go ahead, it’s their word against mine and you can’t prove anything.’

I told him I would mail him a citation for disorderly conduct and he would have the opportunity to give his side in court. He responded,’I’m not going to show up for court, this is bullshit.’  He then said,’You guys can get the fuck off my property.’ Suspect approached us two additional times, each time arguing that we couldn’t take their word over his.

In a supplemental report written by Officer Barb Maxwell, she took a complaint from the neighbor regarding Rucki’s frightening behavior towards his family. Officer Maxwell notes that when she attempted to speak to Rucki, he “..tried to intimidate me. I introduced myself and stated,’I am here because of a complaint on your dogs.’ Rucki got very close to me and said,’There is NO complaint on my dogs‘, and from that point on I was unable to say another word.”  Rucki Incident Report 9/8/2009

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Judge Karen Asphaug presided over the criminal trial against Rucki and dismissed all charges under unusual circumstances. Journalist Michael Volpe has extensively investigated the Grazzini-Rucki case and writes about these charges against Rucki, and the resulting hearing: “The case came in front of Judge Karen Asphaug and on December 31, 2009 a preliminary hearing was held.

As a result of the hearing, a trial was scheduled for February 8, 2010. But, on the eve of the trial, the defense filed a motion to dismiss for “lack of probable cause.” That motion was granted without a hearing by Judge Asphaug and the case was thrown out.

This is unusual and inexplicable. A motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause is supposed to be heard during the pre-trial hearing. If a trial date is set, that normally means the probable cause standard has been met. Furthermore, given the number of witnesses to the altercation, dismissing for lack of probable cause is even less appropriate.”  Did judges in Sandra Grazzini-Rucki case previously fix husband’s cases?

That Judge Asphaug presided over this prior disorderly conduct case  against Rucki should have disqualified her from later presiding over the criminal case of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede Evavold and the other 2 co-defendants. That Judge Asphaug had knowledge of an incident involving a criminal charge against Rucki, where he was accused of violent behavior, creates a conflict of interest.

Further, this incident with the neighbor should have been allowed as evidence at Sandra’s criminal trial but Judge Asphaug would not allow it in. The neighbor had also written letter to describe his experiences with Rucki,”In our near decade of living next to him I have found him to be a very angry individual rages at anyone who has contention or confronts him. It got so severe against our family that the court awarded us a restraining order in September 2009….

As police reports can verify, he has boldly cursed profanely at, and tried to intimidate Lakeville’s female animal control officer. It is logical to conclude he is capable  of more towards those more vulnerable, such as his wife and children.

Judge Asphaug’s Husband Connected to First Judge Who Presided Over Grazzini-Rucki Divorce

Judge Karen Asphaug is also married to attorney David Warg, who was once a partner in a law firm with Judge Tim Wermager. Judge Wermager was the first judge to preside over the Grazzini-Rucki divorce.

A news article on the swearing in of Tim Wermager suggests that a good ‘ole boys club exists in Dakota County. The article hints that Wermager became a judge because of his political connections. (2008) Wermager sworn in as judge

Notable excerpts from the article include:

(Judge William) Thuet, also a Hastings resident, is a former attorney from the same law firm that Wermager practiced with for many years. In his remarks, he mentioned the connection.

“What do Rex Stacy, Tom Bibus, me, and now Tim Wermager, have in common?” he asked. “We all were in law practice with Jim O’Connell. He’s the judge maker.”

…Thuet was sworn in as judge in 1983 and remembers being told to “do what is right.” He urged Wermager to do the same.

In his remarks, Wermager thanked everyone, including his law partners O’Connell and David Warg, his family, and friends.

“One of the reasons I wanted to have this ceremony here is because of the history here,” Wermager said. “This is where we all started. (Community Room, Hastings City Hall

Wermager said Dakota County is held in high regard for its judicial practices.

“Attorneys like to practice here,” he said. “They are treated fairly and with respect.”

That pattern was begun by Judges Breunig (Robert), Mansur (Martin), and Hoey (George), Wermager noted. It continues today.

In this environment of cronyism and backroom deals how could Sandra Grazzini-Rucki or an of the co-defendants in the criminal trial, including Dede Evavold, ever receive a fair trial? When justice is offered for sale, it ceases to exist as justice and instead sows the seeds of corruption, greed and abuse of power at every level of the system.

HRO: Who is Harassing Who?

Rucki’s filing of a HRO against Dede Evavold seems well timed to silence Evavold from speaking out about her case, and to make an example of her to intimidate anyone else who is posting on social media, or other news outlets, about the Grazzini-Rucki case. There is only one narrative on this case that Rucki endorses – his own.

Second, Evavold has recently filed an appeal on her conviction of felony parental deprivation charges. Evavold Response Brief: Deceptive Dakota County If Evavold’s case is overturned on appeal, she could still be subject to this HRO, which would become another way for Judge Asphaug to throw her in jail for any social media posting… As this HRO has established there doesn’t need to be evidence that Evavold did anything wrong to punish her. The basis of the HRO is quote “blog” posting with no blog named, no threatening statements listed, no acts of harassment cited,no proof Evavold posted anything that constitutes harassment or threats as defined by law. Judge Asphaug has created a situation where she can blame Evavold for any “blog” and charge her with an HRO violation; this is a clear abuse of judicial discretion.

 

Appellate Briefs Reveal More Shocking Behavior in Rucki Case

Get the Down and Dirty from Dakota County …

Appellate Briefs Reveal More Shocking Behavior in Rucki Case

** BREAKING NEWS ** From Michael Volpe and PPJ Gazette reporting on the appellate cases of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and Dede Evavold

“In separate response briefs to pro se attorneys, the Dakota County Prosecutor’s Office has acknowledged jury tampering, misdirected an allegation of witness tampering, and refused to respond to address all allegations of judicial misconduct in the Rucki case.

The briefs from Dakota County Prosecutor James Backstrom were in response to briefs filed by Dede Evavold and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, both representing themselves.

(James Backstrom)

Evavold has been representing herself after the state ruled her too well off to receive an attorney while Grazzini-Rucki was represented but was so disgusted by her attorney’s brief that she filed one on her own.

Her attorney, Steven Russett, who was provided by the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender’s Office, did not respond to an email and voicemail for comment.

In the most startling admission, the prosecutors acknowledge- responding to Grazzini-Rucki- that a reporter approached the jury while they were in a common area during a lunch break and asked if any wanted to be interviewed when the trial ended.

The reporter’s name is Laura Adelmann, who works for the Sun Current, the hometown newspaper of Lakeville, Minnesota, where the Rucki’s live. “There was one occasion during trial in which it was it was reported to Judge Asphaug that a reporter (I.E. Laura Adelmann) had approached the jurors while they were eating in the common area of the courthouse and asked if she could interview them after the trial was over.” Backstrom’s brief stated.

 This incident occurred on Friday July 18, 2016, while the trial was ongoing, and on Monday July 21, 2016, Judge Asphaug issued this statement to the court gallery.

I also received information that a member of the press approached our jurors last week and asked if jurors would be willing to speak after the trial. It is- I am ordering that you may not approach the jurors in the common area of the courthouse. It is- it has a chilling effect. It concerns jurors don’t do it.” An email to Adelmann was left unreturned. A voicemail to her editor, Tad Johnson, was also left unreturned.

(Judge Asphaug)

Though the trial was covered internationally there was not one story which referred to Asphaug’s statement while the trial was ongoing.

Emails to Karen Zamora and Brandon Stahl, who each covered parts of the trial for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, were left unreturned.

An email to Michael Brodkorb, who has boasted that he covered each day of the trial, was also left unreturned.

Emails to 20/20 host, Elizabeth Vargas, and her two producers, Beth Mullin and Sean Dooley, were also left unreturned; 20/20 covered parts of the trial though it’s not clear if they were there that day.

Beau Berentson said “Our office does not conduct legal research,” in an email.

But when asked if an investigation had been started or if anyone had been disciplined for allowing press to get so close to the jury- a major break in protocol according to everyone this reporter spoke with- Berentson did not respond.

While lawyers who spoke with this reporter said it was unprecedented that press would ever get so close to a jury during trial, they were split on its significance.

Michael McCray, a United States Department of Agriculture whistleblower and lawyer, said he believed that such an interaction would cause all sorts of thoughts to enter a jury’s head “not one will be about the merits of the case.”

Lee Dryer is a Nashville attorney and part-time judge.

No trial is perfect,” Dryer said, but was less concerned since nothing about the case was discussed.

Dryer said he was more concerned with an allegation of witness tampering; Samantha Rucki, Grazzini-Rucki’s daughter who ran away, responded to Kelli Coughlin a Lakeville Police Department Detective, who asked her if she was at a police interview conducted approximately a month before her mother’s trial.

This police interview occurred approximately a month prior to her mother’s trial on June 30, 2016.

“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 responded when asked if she was at the interview of her own free will.

Judge Asphaug refused to allow the interview into Grazzini-Rucki’s trial, Samantha Rucki testified by Skype, with her aunt, grandmother, and attorney in the same room but not in camera, her father was listening in from outside the door.

(David Rucki)

Furthermore, Judge Asphaug would only allow a limited number of questions. Samantha then downplayed the abuse and claimed she ran away to get away from a bad divorce.

Dryer said that having Samantha testify by Skype raises sixth amendment issues, of a defendant confronting their accuser.

Judge Asphaug argued that Samantha was too fragile to see her mother, but child rape victims are forced to confront their alleged rapist if that rapist is to be convicted.

In their response brief, prosecutors argued that since they weren’t directly involved in the witness tampering, they shouldn’t be held responsible.

Appellant (Evavold) fails to detail what misconduct Respondent (Dakota County Prosecutor) engaged in. In support of her argument, Appellant points to an interview that was conducted by law enforcement of SVR (Samantha). Appellant is under the misbelief that Respondent somehow coerced SVR into providing the statement and that SVR lied in the statement.

The prosecutor’s brief only alludes to a police interview but does not detail what Samantha said in the interview.

Dede Evavold also argued that there was judicial and prosecutorial misconduct, charges not answered by Backstrom.

Judge Asphaug placed herself on Evavold’s, Grazzini-Rucki’s, and the Dahlen’s cases, and refused to recuse herself when each of the four defendants asked.

Furthermore, in 2010, she appears to have fixed a case for David Rucki.

On September 8, 2009, David Rucki went into a fit of rage against his neighbors while they were escorting approximately a dozen two and three-year-old children to the daycare facility they ran.

Complainant stated his wife, two children, and six daycare kids ages three and under were in the driveway when suspect (David Rucki) approached. He stated the suspect threatened his wife, his son, and called them all assholes while standing in the cul-de-sac in front of their home. While I was speaking with the complainant, he informed me that the suspect drove by as we were speaking and put up his middle finger on his left hand at him. Complainant said that they have had on-going harassment type issues with the suspect and his dogs as a result of operating a home daycare facility. He said suspect’s dogs repeatedly come into his yard when daycare parents and kids arrive, barking and growling and the guests as the children are dropped off. He said they have tried to talk to the suspect in the past to mediate the situation, but that he no longer feels comfortable due to elevated language and behavior.

Rucki was charged with disorderly conduct and the case came in front of Judge Asphaug. On the eve of trial, Asphaug dismissed the case for a lack of probable cause, an inexplicable decision which has never been explained.

Lack of probable cause applies to cases with little or no evidence not an incident witnessed by several adults and approximately twelve children. Furthermore, if a case is dismissed due to a lack of probable cause it would be during normal pre-trial hearings, not on the eve of trial, and there’s no evidence that any sort of motion was even filed to trigger this.

Asphaug proceeded to exclude approximately 90% of the evidence of abuse: including David Rucki’s police report, all Child Protective Services reports, all orders for protection against David Rucki, and letters, from Sandra Grazzini Rucki’s, Dede Evavold’s, and the Dahlen’s trials.

Backstrom’s office provided answers to most of the charges of judicial misconduct but not all.

For instance, in their reply brief, the prosecution claims that Grazzini-Rucki only referred to three items as being excluded: The Fox 9 Newscast from June 2013, the GPS tracker from when David Rucki placed a tracker under Grazzini-Rucki’s friend and advocate’s car, Michael Rhedin, and Social Services records.

(Prosecutor Kathryn Keena)

But while Grazzini-Rucki did complain about these, and their exclusion is significant, police reports, letters, and other recordings were also excluded; Sandra Grazzini-Rucki complained of clear judicial bias.

The prosecution downplayed in its brief the breadth of the evidence excluded during trial.

Backstrom’s office did not respond to emails for comment.”

 

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