Michelle MacDonald, who has run for Supreme Court justice twice, has been suspended from the practice of law for 60 days and will be on supervised probation for two years.
It is a discipline recommended by a referee in the case, except that the Supreme Court declined to order MacDonald to have a mental health evaluation.
The discipline results from MacDonald’s representation of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, who was convicted of interfering with the parental rights of her children’s father. During the trial, MacDonald’s conflicts with the judge resulted in a brief time in jail for MacDonald.
She tried to take pictures of the courtroom and failed to cooperate in the trial when she was returned to the courtroom. She then filed suit in federal court against the judge and complained to the Board on Judicial Standards.
MacDonald claimed that she based her allegations against the judge on information she received from her client. The court said the First Amendment does not protect MacDonald from the consequences of making false statements against a judge.
MacDonald is prohibited from practicing law as a solo and must work in daily contact with a practicing attorney who co-signs her documents. She will also have a probation supervisor appointed by the director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. She also must take 15 CLE credits on civil trial and appellate practice, including courtroom decorum and trial preparation. The other usual probationary requirements, including the professional responsibility bar, also apply.
Justices David Lillehaug, Margaret Chutich and Natalie Hudson recused from the case.
Unusually for a disciplinary action, Justice Anne McKeig filed a 16-page dissent referring to MacDonald’s discipline as a “slap on the wrist.”