MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE MICHELLE MACDONALD’S LAWSUIT AGAINST MINNESOTA SHERIFFS AND OTHERS FOR UNLAWFUL DETENTION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE
On March 25, 2015, Michelle MacDonald filed a Complaint against Dakota County Deputy Sheriffs, the Fluegel Law Firm and others seeking injunctions and money damages for more than twenty claims including False Arrest, False Imprisonment, Conspiracy, and Malicious Prosecution.
MacDonald’s lawsuit, filed in the District of Minnesota federal court, stems from her representation of an indigent mother in family court pro bono. MacDonald sued Judge David Knutson on behalf of this client for violations of constitutional rights that separated the client from her children and stripped her of all assets and property. MacDonald filed the federal class action lawsuit against Judge Knutson and sought to recuse him from her client’s case. During the trial the next day, MacDonald was handcuffed and detained by Dakota County Deputy Sheriffs for taking a photo while court was not in session. On Judge Knutson’s orders, MacDonald was required to complete her client’s trial in handcuffs without her client present.
As detailed in the lawsuit, MacDonald alleges Deputy Sheriffs employed up to seven of the eleven internationally recognized forms of psychological torture while she was in their custody from September 12th to September 13th, 2013. MacDonald was, further, disallowed a single phone call and Deputy Sheriffs threatened her with 30-days of additional detention for no specific reason. Deputies acted with the aid of City Attorneys at Fluegel Law Firm whom they claimed would merely file a “motion” with the court to allow them to continue to detain MacDonald without cause.
MacDonald notified lawyers for Dakota County and Judge Knutson of her intent to file a lawsuit. In response to MacDonald’s detailed notice of claims, Dakota County lawyer James Backstrom filed a frivolous complaint with the Minnesota Lawyer’s
Board in a retaliatory attempt to disrupt her lawyer’s licensing. Judge Knutson’s attorney at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office just flatly refused to comply with the request to preserve evidence of the detention and torture. Neither presented facts to refute the claims made by MacDonald. The case was dismissed for immunities and was appealed and argued in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 17th, 2018.
According to MacDonald’s then attorney, Nathan Busch, “[o]ur Constitution guarantees every citizen inalienable rights of due process before arrest and detention to prevent exactly the outrageous tyranny Dakota County officials have inflicted on Ms. MacDonald. However, the words of the Constitution have no meaning unless our Judiciary both respects and abides by those words. When the Judiciary refuses to do so and instead retaliates against attorneys like Ms. MacDonald who are asserting their rights and the rights of their clients, then both the Judiciary and the State have become the very tyrants that the founders of this country sought to banish.”