OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Testimony is over in the misconduct hearing for a Michigan judge who faces criticism for her handling of three siblings who refused to have lunch with their father amid their parents’ volatile divorce.
The Judicial Tenure Commission filed a two-count ethics complaint against Oakland County Judge Lisa Gorcyca for failing to "act in a patient, dignified, and courteous manner" during the court hearing last June, and then making false statements to the commission after its initial inquiry.
The complaint alleges that during the court's proceedings, Gorcyca "used a raised and/or angry voice" as well as "laughed at the children and was sarcastic."
The outcome of the custody case made headlines last year when Gorcyca sent the 9-year-old, 10-year-old and 13-year-old to juvenile detention after refusing to meet with their father.
"We tried everything. Nothing was working," Gorcyca told the commission.
A ruling on the alleged misconduct will be made within a month.
What happened in June 2015
A five-year custody battle between Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and Omer Tsimhoni over their three children came to a bizarre conclusion when the children were found in contempt of court for refusing to have a relationship with their father.
The eldest child, 13, rebuffed the order to communicate with his father based on the accusations that his father had been violent toward his mother.
Gorcyca sent him to Oakland County's Children's Village detention facility for the summer, citing he was in direct contempt of the court.
During the contempt hearing, Gorcyca also told the boy she was doubtful of him having a high IQ, he had no manners, was mentally messed up, and should research Charles Manson's cult about being brainwashed.
“You had very simple choices and you’re clearly, clearly very messed up," Gorcyca said.
After the 13-year-old was taken away in handcuffs, the two younger children apologized and Gorcyca ordered them to have lunch with their father the next day.
However, the two refused the order and Gorcyca also sentenced them to detention for the summer.
"You have been brainwashed. You are brainwashed. This is not normal behavior," Gorcyca told the children.
The ordered that the children were to be separated in detention along with no visitations from their mother or family members.
Gorcyca says she was shocked, frustrated at siblings decision
“I never for one minute thought that any person faced with door No. 1, parenting time, and door No. 2, Children’s Village, which had been explained to them over and over again that this could happen, would pick door No. 2,” Gorcyca testified. “It’s still shocking to me that any children would rather go to Children’s Village than parenting time with a parent.”
Attorneys criticize, praise Gorcyca's decisions
“If she’s guilty of anything, she is guilty of caring too much. She’s guilty of wanting to make sure the system worked for everyone, not just the mother," Cranmer said. "They (the children) refused any and any attempt to have meaningful parenting time with their father."
Cranmer said Gorcyca was "stark" and "direct" in sending a message to the children of their choices.
“Judge Gorcyca was presenting the children with a very clear choice, a very clear alternative, that they themselves chose. What she wanted to have happen was for the children to choose the sane, reasonable, option: just have parenting time. Go to lunch with your father," Cranmer said.
Attorney Margaret Rynier didn't agree.
“In a fit of anger, (Gorcyca) used her judicial power and the power of contempt, to intimidate, to frighten, and to incarcerate a 9, 10 and 13 year old," Rynier said. “They were not delinquents. They didn’t break the law. They didn’t commit any crimes. Their parents were getting a divorce ... the only thing that they supposedly did wrong was that they did not wish to have lunch with their father.”
Rynier accused Gorcyca of violating the children's due process rights.
"(The childrens' only) fault was that they were part of a divorce action," Rynier said.
In December 2015, Gorcyca announced she would be withdrawing from the case.
Her full response can be found below: