Dakota County Corrupt Courthouse Event: Tour Infamous Court at Center of the Grazzini-Rucki Case

Source: Dakota County Corrupt Courthouse Event

 

Dakota County Judicial Center, Hastings, Minnesota

..all this courtroom has done has cause misery and heartache…” except of a letter written by one of the Rucki children, April 2013

The public is invited to celebrate Constitution Day at the Dakota County “Open Courthouse” event on September 15… held at the epicenter of corruption in Minnesota: the Dakota County Judicial Center. The free, open-to-the public event, will run from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 2017 Dakota County Open Courthouse Event

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour, and experience firsthand, the infamous courthouse at the center of the Grazzini-Rucki custody trial, and criminal trial where unconstitutional abuses of power by the courts, judges, court officers and law enforcement occurred. Both cases also involve rampant violations of the constitutional rights of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, as well as the 3 co-defendants in the criminal trial.

The public is advised to enter the Dakota County Judicial Center at their own risk – law and justice mean nothing here!

Judge David L. Knutson will make a special appearance at the 12:30 Welcoming Ceremony, held at the Jury Assembly Room, Lower Level.

Wonder if Judge Knutson would be willing to answer questions such as:

**Why did you give custody of five children to a dangerous abuser?

**Why did you ignore the abuse allegations raised by the Rucki children?

**Do you think it is appropriate for a judge to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse?

**Do you think it is okay for a judge to call a child abuse victim a ‘liar’ when they disclose abuse?

**Why did you release David Rucki after several violations of a protective order?

**How is the public supposed to trust the courts when they see you break the law and go to such extreme lengths to give custody to a violent man and deprive a fit, loving mother of custody?

**How do you defend your violations of the Constitutional rights of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki?

**Why did you give such a light sentence to child rapist Dennis Roy?

**Do you support 1st Amendment rights? If so, why are you limiting the free speech of blogger Dede Evavold?

Chances are Judge Knutson, the coward he is, won’t be taking any questions from the public and will continue to hide behind the skirts of judicial immunity.

The court, judges, prosecutors, police and many layers of corruption within Dakota Count colluded to give sole custody to a dangerous abuser, David Rucki, and worked to cover up their crimes in doing so, to detriment of the five Rucki children. Mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who, fought to keep the children safe from harm is now being punished and criminalized while the real criminals go free.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was a loving, stay-at-home mother of five children, and former Mrs. Lakeville, who has been victimized, deprived of her rights and due process, and forcibly separated from her children due to injustice and corruption in the family court and criminal court of Dakota County. Sandra’s situation is so dire that she is now living in hiding – and her children have been given into the custody of a dangerous abuser with a long history of criminal acts and violence against his own family. druckipolicereports

 

 

Paul Reitman

The Rucki children have raised abuse allegations against their father only to be told by Judge David Knutson, Guardian ad Litems, Julie Friedrich and Laura Miles, and court-ordered therapists, Dr. Paul Reitman and Dr James Gilbertson, that they are liars and in need of de-programming. And this has occurred – the Rucki children were forced into “de-programming” using methods similar to what is done to a POW camp in order to get the children to recant abuse allegations, and then forced into complying with the courts demands even as it has proved detrimental to their safety and well-being.

If you heard a child come forward with an allegation of abuse like this, would you honestly walk away and do nothing?? That is exactly what Judge Knutson, and others, have done to the Rucki children.

In April 2013, one of the Rucki children wrote a letter to describe how she witnessed her father, David Rucki, abuse her mother, and stated that he was also violent and threatening to other children – to the extreme that her even friends feared visiting the Rucki home.

The letter (which was not allowed to be submitted as evidence in Sandra’s criminal trial) included this statement from her daughter,” I know the difference between a lie and the truth….

I stand here today to tell you the truth about my father. To begin with, he has not only told my family that he is homicidal, but sat us down at kitchen table and yelled at us saying that he was not only going to kill me but my brothers, sister and mom. Not even a week later I received a horrifying voicemail of 6 gunshots. He has also choked, slapped, and hit and verbally abused my mother repeatedly throughout their. marriage. He also has lost it on us kids more than a number of time physically and verbally. Also he has made sexual comments to me over the year about my boobs look bigger and so forth and over the year many of my friends could not hang out with me because of my father. The day my father officially moved out of the Ireland place home was not only a day of peace and happiness but safety in the household…Letters from Rucki Sisters April 2013

Sandra has continued to be the punching bag for her abusive ex-husband, David Rucki, even after she fled the marriage by agreeing to divorce in 2011. – Rucki conspired with “Korrupt Knutson” to batter, and destroy, Sandra by using the legal system in the same way that he once used his fist to beat her into submission.

As a result of family court proceedings, Sandra was court ordered by Judge Knutson into a “lifetime of servitude,” stripped of her children and custodial rights, her home, her employment, and her freedom— she is now homeless and destitute, hunted and harassed by ex-husband, David Rucki, who has promised to “see her dead.”

Tour stops in the Dakota County Judicial Center, important to the Grazzini-Rucki case, include: Self Guided Tours: Dakota County Open Courthouse

The public is invited take self-guided tours of the Dakota County Judicial Center, with stops including courtrooms and other areas of interest, and the chance to hear from a local district court judge or other justice system officials.

Jury Assembly Room/Jury room This room is the notorious site where jury tampering occurred in the Grazzini-Rucki criminal case (July 2016). Jury tampering is a factor that contributed to Sandra being found guilty, by tainting the jury with prejudicial information before the trial began.

During jury selection, nearly all of the 60 members of the jury pool admitted they had heard or read about the Grazzini-Rucki case; meaning the jury had been influenced even before the trial began. In criminal cases that receive a lot of publicity it is common to hold the trial in another jurisdiction – that didn’t happen here because Dakota County waged a vendetta against Sandra, and probably won’t give up punishing her until she is dead.

In another instance of jury tampering, an article from the Star Tribune regarding the Grazzini-Rucki case was found in the jury room. It should be noted that the article was written by a blogger who has a close relationship with David Rucki, and has expressed admiration of Judge David Knutson. The blogger was contracted at the Star Tribune to cover the Grazzini-Rucki case as part of an “experiment” that went massively awry when the paper was used to promote propaganda and false and misleading information about the Grazzini-Rucki case; articles specifically do not mention or include documentation of abuse or Rucki’s lengthy history of violence. So what the jurors saw was a news article written as a hit piece against Sandra, who was vilified, and unable to defend herself against the impressions formed in the jurors minds outside the courtroom.

In another instance of jury tampering, one juror admitted to being at a party with Rucki’s relative, and Judge Asphaug refused to have this person disqualified after they promised to remain neutral.

If that were not bad enough, two bloggers covering the trial approached the jurors and asked them to speak about the case. Due to the severity of the allegations, Judge Karen Asphaug stopped the trial in the middle of proceedings, left the bench and went into the jury room to assess the damage. Inappropriate contact with a juror is grounds for a mistrial; despite this, Judge Asphaug continued with trial, once again making excuses for a jury that could not possibly remain neutral after being pressured and influenced before trial began.

Book and ReleaseSandra Grazzini-Rucki was held in Book and Release several times during the course of her criminal trial. If walls could talk, the walls of the book and release room would drip with anguished tears.

Sandra found herself in the Book and Release room not as a criminal but as mother who fought to protect her children from abuse, risking her own life and freedom to do so.

In her former life, Sandra was a stay at home mom who lavished her time, energy and love on her five children. She worked as a flight attendant and had a spotless 30+ year history of impeccable service, and was loved by crew and guests alike. After surviving an abusive marriage that nearly cost her life,  Sandra looked forward a fresh start…hope for the future was short-lived because ex-husband, David Rucki, would escalate his attacks against her in a new arena: family court, where he is assisted by a powerful and korrupt judge, David L.  Knutson.

The result of 6 years of continued legal abuse, and humiliation in family court, is that Sandra is destitute and homeless. She has survived stalking and death threats from Rucki (and people on his behalf) but the nature of the court orders have left her barely surviving. By order of Judge Knutson, her home, all her belongings, and even pictures of her children have been taken. David Rucki has been awarded 100% of the marital property including 4 homes and all the contents within, 9 classic cards and has dumped huge amounts of personal debt onto Sandra. Rucki is also granted nearly $1,000 a month in child support, and motioning the court for Sandra to pay thousands of dollars for legal fees, even though Sandra has not worked for almost two years and is unable to meet her own basic needs. With 6 felonies on her record, it is doubtful that Sandra will be able to return to work as a flight attendant – or be hired anywhere else. The State of Minnesota once extended assistance to Sandra but since has terminated benefits. Now she has no means to pay for food or basic necessities that most take for granted. Rucki lives like a king, devising new ways to torment poor Sandra.

Sandra was forced to witness continued abuse inflicted on her children then was jailed for trying to protect them when they were forced to go on the run to protect their own lives. She was confined in the Book and Release Room, hands in cuffs, while the real criminals – David Rucki and Judge Knutson – go free.

Courtroom 1F: Mock Jury Selection Demonstrations – Courtroom 1F is where Judge David L. Knutson presided over the Grazzini-Rucki custody trial (September 11-12, 2013).

It is here that Sandra lost custody of her five, precious children and would forever be banned from having any contact with them. Dangerous abuser David Rucki is awarded sole custody, despite for being on probation for violating a protective order against Sandra. At the time of the custody order, two of the Rucki children are missing – they ran away in fear for their lives due to their father’s abuse and Judge Knutson’s failure to protect them.

Courtroom 1F is also where lawyer Michelle MacDonald was forced to represent Sandra Grazzini-Rucki while handcuffed and strapped to a wheelchair and without her files and notes, pen/paper, glasses, shoes, and even without her client – and without ever being charged or booked. (Sandra, and several court witnesses, left the courtroom that day after Judge Knutson told them that trial was over and that MacDonald was being arrested.) Judge Knutson took these outrageous actions as retaliation against MacDonald because she had filed a federal lawsuit against him, on behalf of Sandra, and asked that he recuse himself from the trial. Lawsuit: Female Attorney Strapped to Wheelchair in Court

Judge Knutson continues to retaliate against Michelle MacDonald and has actually filed a complaint against her law license, stating she failed to properly represent Sandra in the custody trial – after he alone made it impossible for Sandra to obtain a fair trial.

Judge Knutson avoids any responsibility for his unethical, and illegal actions, by hiding behind judicial immunity like a coward. Judge Knutson now sits on the Board on Judicial Standards, which oversees complaints against judges. Judge Knutson’s role on the Board has greatly contributed to the public trust in the judiciary eroding to an all time law… the people of Minnesota do not respect judges anymore – they fear them.

While the Dakota County Judicial Center celebrates Constitution Day, the public is unaware that they are celebrating at the very alter, the judge’s bench in courtroom 1F, where the gavel has slammed against the Constitution, shattering it rendering it void.. as if our very Constitution were made of glass, and could be easily discarded.

Courtroom 1DScene of “Rigged Trial” – It is here the Grazzini-Rucki criminal trial was conducted under the jurisdiction of Judge Karen Asphaug (July 25-28, 2016).

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is found guilty on 6 counts of deprivation of parental rights after Judge Karen Asphaug disallowed the majority of evidence supporting the affirmative defense she raised.

Sandra raisde the affirmative defense in her criminal trial, meaning she admitted to assisting her daughters because feared for their safety. If the jury found enough evidence to support the affirmative defense, Sandra could be exonerated. Sandra’s defense depended on proving why she feared for the safety of her daughters. Judge Asphaug suppressed 75% of defense evidence during the criminal trial including: witness testimony, Rucki’s criminal history, CPS and social service records documenting the abuse of the Rucki children, evidence of stalking, protective orders Sandra took out against Rucki, and more..

Sandra is actively appealing the decision.

Holding CellThe Adult Holding Cell is where attorney Michelle MacDonald was detained, and she says “tortured” by order of Judge Knutson, during the Grazzini-Rucki custody trial (September 11-12, 2017). Judge Knutson ordered that MacDonald be detained because she took pictures in the courtroom when it was not in session. The popular story is that MacDonald got in trouble for taking pictures of Deputy Timothy Gonder. Just do a social media search and you will see that pictures are routinely taken in the Dakota County Judicial Center, and no one else is punished in the way MacDonald was. The truth is that the pictures were taken of the court docket to document irregularities in the scheduling of the case. MacDonald was documenting, in pictures, the illegal actions of Judge Knutson and, to him,  had to be stopped.

After the trial (which was not a trial in any sense of the word!), attorney Michelle MacDonald was not allowed to leave court but, instead, was unlawfully detained for through the night and into the next day. MacDonald was held for more than 24 hours without being booked, charged, or allowed bail, bond, or to make a phone call. She was never read her Miranda rights.

Interesting enough, Judge Michael Mayer, who presided over the juvenile trial of the runaway Rucki girls, made a personal appearance to the detention center to witness MacDonald’s humiliation, and tears. With a snide laugh he taunted her by saying, “Having a rough day?”

Also present was Deputy Timothy Gonder, the personal thug of Judge Knutson. Deputy Gonder manhandled Michelle MacDonald and meted out punishment by unofficial judicial order. Gonder would also make an appearance when Sandra was injured while being held in the Ramsey County Correctional Facility during criminal proceedings, and would be the subject of a PREA complaint after he took inappropriate pictures while she was handcuffed to a bed, and made special efforts to humiliate her.

MacDonald later filed a lawsuit, claiming the sheriff’s office engaged in seven of the internationally recognized forms of torture: sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement/isolation, temperature extremes, sensory bombardment and psychological techniques.

The lawsuit describes the cruelty inflicted on MacDonald – deputies turned the temperature of the room down to freezing and kept the bright lights on all night to keep her awake. MacDonald took the toilet paper and wrapped it around her head and body and feet to keep in an vain effort to keep warm. The guard came in and ripped it off her, saying she was not using it properly. Pictures were taken of MacDonald in her cell in an effort to humiliate her. Guards made comments about prisoner suicide as a way to intimidate her. All of this MacDonald suffered because she bravely defended Sandra, and her Constitutional rights, in Judge Knutson’s lawless court, room 1F.

Michelle MacDonald was eventually released, no charges were ever brought against her related to this incident. Judge Leslie Metzen ultimately determined that Michelle MacDonald’s civil rights had been violated by the illegal search and seizure of the camera.

 Courtroom 1B: Interactive Television (ITV) Demonstration and Judge Chamber 109

The Judge’s Chamber should be called the Torture Chamber for what was done to the Rucki children in the Dakota County Judicial Center.

In February 2013, the Rucki children were summoned to the chambers of Judge David Knutson. The Rucki children not only disclosed abuse to Judge Knutson but clearly stated their preference to live with mother, Sandra, where they felt safe and loved. Enraged, Judge Knutson ordered that the proceedings be sealed.

That same day, David Rucki had a pending case in criminal court for violating a no-contact order that prohibited him from contacting the children. Judge Knutson made special efforts to have all criminal charges against Rucki dismissed, which did happen.

Even after hearing serious allegations of abuse from the Rucki children, and with knowledge that Rucki violated a no-contact order, Judge Knutson ordered that very same day the children be forced to a visit their father. Dr. James Gilbertson, therapist, recommended the children be held in a room and an armed bailiff be used as a show of force in order to get the children to comply. Court records reveal the older children – specifically S.R. and G.R. were viewed as a problem. The “problem” being that they raised abuse allegations and were vocal in objecting to forced visits with Rucki (i.e they didn’t go along with “the programming”).

Another tactic used on the Rucki children, at the recommendation of Dr. Gilbertson, is that the older children were separated from the younger children. This was done so the younger children would have no protection and no advocate, and could be psychologically broken down more easily, and thus, easier to control.

At other times, court records reveal, the Rucki children were brought to the courthouse by order of Judge Knutson, where they were held for hours, in a room without food or drink, without toys, and without comfort of any kind. An armed bailiff was posted at the door to prevent escape. The records reveal the children were extremely anxious and upset to be brought to the court, which would be understandable considering what the children had to endure.

On one occasion, Dr. Gilbertson recommended the children be forced to sit in during proceedings and watch what happened as David Rucki raised false, and outrageous allegations against Sandra, who was then punished by Judge Knutson – who always ruled in Rucki’s favor. The children were sent a clear message that their mother, and protector, could no longer protect them.. that their father held all the power.

Other times, the Rucki children were detained in the courthouse and then forced, against their wishes, to visit with their father, Rucki. There are allegations that Rucki would intimidate the children during visits, give them the middle finger, that he was angry and made veiled threats. Even Dr. Gilbertson records in his notes that the children were visibly afraid of Rucki. Yet “reunification therapy” continued… it is no wonder that the children attempted to run away after their cries for help were ignored, and they were subject to further abuse.

In-Custody CourtroomMoney is the root of all evil.. the In-Custody Courtroom is where Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was brought for a bail hearing on November 6, 2015 and a $1 million dollar bail was issued for a defendant with no prior criminal history, and for a non-violent crime.. Sandra’s bail was much, much higher than most serious offenders.

Is at coincidence judge assigned to do bails that was none other than Judge Knutson?!? However, since Judge Knutson was busy with other tasks that day, the stand-in judge stepped in on his behalf and blindly ordered the astronomical amount of bail without a second thought.

The situation is even more unusual because Sandra was removed from the in-custody courtroom and taken, through a back hall, into a room hidden from public view, where bail was issued.

On February 24th, Sandra was released on her own recognizance. Outside of these trumped up charges, she remains law abiding and poses no threat to anyone.. other than the corruption in Dakota County that does not want to be exposed.

Banner – Source – http://www.mncourts.gov

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Minnesota Exposed: “Tough on Crime” but Silent on Abuse (Grazzini-Rucki Case Update)

I’m the toughest on crime that ever lived, I make Elliott Ness look like nothing.  I think for some reason the authoritiehave dropped the ball on this case.” – per Ron Rosenbaum (Holding Court Podcast Thu, 22 October 2015) claims he is paraphrasing James Backstrom.

County Attorney James C. Backstrom

The Lakeville police have mishandled the investigation of the missing Rucki sisters – worked to cover up child abuse, and tainted the investigation with bias and misinformation. Innocent children are being punished for the actions of an abuser, and those who are charged with protecting them have failed to keep them safe.

 Ongoing Child Abuse Cover Up 

From the beginning, the Lakeville Police have failed to protect those victimized by David Rucki – Sandra and the children, the neighbors, and the public. Had the Lakeville Police properly intervened, the escalating behavior could have been prevented, and the children could have been spared the abuse they have suffered (and continue to suffer.)

 

Miles

Laura Miles GAL Coordinator

The Lakeville police are aware of multiple abuse allegations concerning the Rucki sisters made before their disappearance. NONE of these allegations were ever investigated by the police. The sisters had also attempted to run away in Sept. 2012, again because they did not feel safe.

The Rucki sisters also reported  abuse to numerous professionals, doctors, therapists, friends – and each time the family court professionals, under the jurisdiction of Judge Knutson, ignored or dismissed their cries for help. Even after being “recovered”, the Rucki sisters again stated to anyone who would listen, that they were afraid of their father, David Rucki, that he had abused them, and that they would run away if returned to his care. Instead of listening to their cries for help, the police and court system have chosen to listen to the abuser.

Judge David Knutson

Judge David Knutson

 

Dr. Paul Reitman, Clinical Psychologist

JFX

Julie Friedrich, GAL

 Rogue Drone – Detective Jim Dronnen Erases Report of OFP Violation

Image from sunthisweek.com

Image from sunthisweek.com

Det. Jim Dronen should have never been assigned to this case because of his past involvement with David Rucki.

In 2011, Det. Dronnen handled a case where Rucki was charged with an OFP violation. Dronnen had the charge not only dismissed but wiped completely off MNCIS.

Lakeville Appoints Det. Dronen to “Most Bizarre” Case

Det. Jim Dronnen began working on the case in 2014, and bragged that “the Rucki case was virtually the only one he worked on”. How is this possible? What about the violent crimes, unsolved cases and other threats to public safety? How can the Lakeville police direct one investigator to this case – and yet also fail to issue an Amber Alert or fail to do a local search for the missing sisters?

The Lakeville police also failed to contact Trish Van Pilsum, who interviewed the the girls for a story after they had run away. There was a crucial period of time to gather information that was totally ignored. Yet, at a later date, the Lakeville police had multiple conversations with Brandon Stahl and Michael Brodkorb of the Star Tribune…after the girls were missing for almost 2 years! What is the difference? The Star Tribune had aligned with the Lakeville police in covering up abuse, while Van Pilsum was exposing it.

The Lakeville police had mishandled previous reports of abuse made in connection to David Rucki, and needed to keep the allegations silent to avoid responsibility for their role in the escalating conflicts. In order for this cover-up to be successful, one party must be targeted a scapegoat. 

Just A “Very Sad Case…(of a) Nasty Divorce” or a High Profile Case for Lakeville?

Instead of correctly naming, and investigating the abuse, the Lakeville police have begun a disinfo campaign to say this case is really just a “high conflict” divorce issue.

Lakeville Police Chief Jeff Long says this case “is one of the most ‘bizarre’ cases he has seen throughout his 29-year career..” Keep in mind that Chief Long has investigated murder, rape and other serious crimes.. and yet we are to believe this is “the most bizarre”? 

The Lakeville police ignored the history of abuse, ignored documentation of abuse , and ignored the reason the Rucki sisters ran away. They stated they did not want to live in the care of paternal aunt Tammy Love, which is in itself may be an indicator of abuse. 

If the sisters did not run away due to abuse, what led up to this? According to Detective Dronnen,of the Lakeville Police Dept. “This is a very sad case that just shows how nasty divorce can be…When you have people that are just working so hard to win, it can just make things really, really nasty and there’s really no winners.” 

The police listened with a sympathetic ear to David complain about suing Sandra for the money in her family trust. What does that have to do with the missing Rucki sisters?

4bebc-brodkorb_rucki_love_elliot_donehower_19av-fa-11-1273_012616

 

 

 

Millionaire David Rucki then used money from the Wetterling Foundation to pay for all expenses for the Rucki sisters to be shipped, with a retired security officer so they would not run away again, on a plane to California for “intense therapy lasting 6-8 hours a day” to “de-program” the girls in a treatment facility, transcripts state, which was used by the Feds on numerous occasions.

David confided to an officer that “the MN Attorney General’s Office was conducting an investigation which involved the two missing girls in this case.”  According to David Rucki, the Attorney General’s Office is now involved in a missing persons case? 

The Lakeville police also utilized the resources of the BCA to collect DNA samples on the sisters as well as dental records. 

Why all of this effort? I would argue that Lakeville’s interest in this case was not so much in finding the Rucki sisters, but had to do more with this being a high-profile case that would increase the prestige of the police department. 

 A Pat on the Back for the Good ‘Ole Boys

IN 2015, Det. Dronnen was named officer of the year. And Det. Dronnen recently received a Medal of Commendation related to his work on the Rucki case (May 2016) . Mayor Matt Little personally praised him, saying, “If you continue to receive all that pressure, we’ve got your back and we’ll support you for the whole way.” Det. Dronnen is given one of the highest awards for law enforcement service, usually reserved for those who risk their lives in the line of duty, for one case that was supplemented with help from the Star Tribune?

If this is not a Red Herring Alert, I don’t know what one is! Stay tuned for updates on the Grazzini-Rucki case… 

Additional Sources:

Charges Filed Following Discovery of Missing Rucki Sisters

The Provocateur: David Rucki’s Greatest Hits (Michael Volpe)

Did 20/20 manipulate the Rucki story to hide abuse? (Michael Volpe)

(2011) Judge Knutson Orders Reunification Therapy with David Rucki and Children, while HRO in place

Lakeville detective receives medal of commendation

RĒ TALLY Ā SHEE ŌNN? (Det Dronnen)

GAL Coordinator Laura Miles – Going the Extra Mile for Fatherhood Organization

The need for justice grows out of the conflict of human interests...” ~ Thomas Nixon Carver

Can a family court Guardian ad Litem (GAL)  advocate for the best interest of a child, while also advocating, and promoting, their own special interests? One Guardian ad Litem Coordinator’s work with a fatherhood organization provides yet another example of the need for increased accountability, and oversight, in Minnesota’s troubled GAL program. 

Laura Miles, Guardian ad Litem Coordinator for Dakota and Goodhue counties, served as a board member in a well-known fatherhood organization in 2014 and 2015 (board terms for this organization last a period of 3 years). The stated mission of this fatherhood org is to “change the way government agencies interact with fathers and children”. That the GAL program is a government agency raises serious questions about Miles involvement, especially since her work involves supervising and training other Guardians, who may become indoctrinated if Miles has any bias.

Laura Miles. GAL Program Coordinator

Laura Miles. GAL Program Coordinator

The way Miles’ job title and name is listed in the fatherhood org’s Board of Directors gives the appearance of impropriety. The listing includes Miles’ name, her job title as GAL Coordinator (she is a state employee) her address in a state office building, and her work phone, also provided by the state.

I could not find a publicly posted policy relating to the GAL use of state property but there is a statute for the code of ethics for employees in the executive branch that is widely utilized by State employees. Stat. 43A.38, Subd. 4.Use of state property: (a) “An employee shall not use or allow the use of state time, supplies or state-owned or leased property and equipment for the employee’s private interests or any other use not in the interest of the state, except as provided by law.”

See GAL Coordinator Laura Mile’s name, and contact information included on the list for a Board of Directors for a fatherhood organization here: 

2014 MFFN Board List

 2015 MFFN Board List

Public Domain: clker.com

In another listing, advertising a conference, Laura Miles names is listed under the title “Statewide Representation and Support for Fathers”, again the listing includes Miles title as GAL Coordinator and includes her contact information from her state office. Miles name is also listed on the Form 990 as being part of the Board of Directors.

According to the organization, Board members must be “passionate about advancing the fatherhood field” Those who are interested in serving on the Board must “self nominate” and send a letter of interest, How can Miles remain neutral, and objective, in her position as GAL Coordinator while also be actively seeking a role to be involved, and promote the fatherhood agenda – or any agenda, for that matter? 

This is clearly a conflict of interest.

I could not find a publicly posted conflict of interest statement for the GAL program but the code of ethics for employees in the executive branch offers some direction. Subd. 5.Conflicts of interest, “The following actions by an employee in the executive branch shall be deemed a conflict of interest and subject to procedures regarding resolution of the conflicts, section 434A.39 or disciplinary action as appropriate…2) acceptance of other employment or contractual relationship that will affect the employee’s independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties…

Subd. 6.Determination of conflicts of interest, “When an employee believes the potential for a conflict of interest exists, it is the employee’s duty to avoid the situation. A conflict of interest shall be deemed to exist when a review of the situation by the employee, the appointing authority or the commissioner determines any one of the following conditions to be present: (1) the use for private gain or advantage of state time, facilities, equipment or supplies or badge, uniform, prestige or influence of state office or employment…”

A conflict of interest occurs when professional judgment is influenced by a secondary interest. For a GAL, their job, and priority, is to protect the interests and well-being of the child. A GAL is supposed to be neutral, and unbiased; Miles involvement with the fatherhood org suggests favoritism, and bias.  Her role may also lead to forming alliances that could deter the outcome of justice if cronyism were to occur. Miles, herself, once said, in a presentation, that a Guardian ad Litem should represent the “pure” best interests of a child, and should not have any competing interests. As a GAL Coordinator, Miles should be held to an even higher standard because her job involves the supervision of other GALs. 

Interesting enough, the fatherhood org DOES have its own conflict of interest policy that its Board Members have to sign.

Laura Miles has been employed with the GAL program since 1997. Miles is well known for her role as GAL in the Grazzini-Rucki case, she was appointed in May 2013 after Julie Friedrich withdrew from the case. Friedrich withdrew after allegations of misconduct involving her role in the Grazzini-Rucki case became public.

The lack of accountability in the Minnesota GAL program leads to abuses of power, and conflicts of interest, that detract from the purpose of the program to protect children and, places the lives of children at risk. 

Julie Friedrich, Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

Julie Friedrich, Guardian ad Litem (GAL)