The Minnesota Court of Appeals’ chief judge Tuesday waved off Michael Brodkorb’s attempt to dismiss lawyer Michelle MacDonald’s District Court defamation-suit appeal.
The author and one-time political operative filed for dismissal on May 30, after MacDonald and her counsel, Karlowba R. Adams Powell, missed a deadline for requesting court transcripts from the case’s November 2018 District Court hearing.
Though he does not deny rules were broken, Chief Judge Edward Cleary ruled Tuesday, that was not sufficient reason to throw out the case.
“Dismissal of an appeal for noncompliance with the appellate rules is an inappropriate sanction when the failure to follow the rules does not affect the appellate court’s jurisdiction and neither prejudices the other party nor delays the appeal,” Cleary wrote in his June 11 order.
Cleary also granted MacDonald’s late transcript request and ordered court reporter Vanessa Melstrom to produce and deliver the document by July 22.
The dispute had to do with the timing of filings.
The MacDonald defamation suit appeal was filed on April 30, which met jurisdictional deadlines. But court rules say that within 10 days of that, a request for transcripts from the District Court case must be filed.
Adams Powell didn’t get that done on time—MacDonald blamed confusion related to a court reporter who switched jobs and couldn’t be immediately located. When Adams Powell finally did find the reporter and requested the transcript on May 22, she backdated it to May 7, a date that would have met the 10-day rule.
The court reporter accepted the request, but estimated delivery would take until July 22. That fell outside a 60-day limit for delivery of transcripts—if the May 7 request date is taken at face value.
The clerk of the appellate courts did accept that date, but rejected the transcript-request certificate because of the 60-day rule.
At that point, Brodkorb and his attorney Nathan Hansen cried foul and demanded either that MacDonald file her brief by May 30 or the case be dismissed.
Cleary denied that request.
“The request to dismiss was frivolous,” MacDonald said in an email Wednesday. “The court reporter changed jobs, moved out of state. She will get us the transcripts on time, so the appeal will proceed as planned. Most courts are understanding of these types of issues.”
Reached Thursday, Brodkorb predicted the Court of Appeals will dismiss the case, just as Ramsey County District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle, Jr., did in March. Therefore, Brodkorb maintains, he will be put to the expense of defending the appeal for no good reason.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “But this is what Michelle does. This is how she uses the system in an attempt to just bleed people dry.”
MacDonald, a three-time state Supreme Court candidate, sued Brodkorb last year for defamation. She claimed that he and his writing partner Allison Mann published lies about her and published a “false image” of her on their blog, MissinginMinnesota.com. Kyle granted Brodkorb summary judgment dismissing that case on March 1.
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