Oakland judge will keep custody case
Pontiac — It appears a high-profile, contentious child custody case will be headed back to its original judge, despite opposition from the children’s mother.
Saying he found no evidence of bias, St. Clair County Chief Judge Daniel Kelly declined Thursday Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s request to have Oakland Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca disqualified from the case. It’s expected the legal battle will be returned to Gorcyca for trial.
The disqualification case had been transferred to St. Clair County last month by the State Court Administrator’s Office after Oakland County Chief Circuit Judge Nanci Grant recused herself from deciding the matter.
At issue is three Bloomfield Hills children who were placed in Children’s Village, a county juvenile detention facility, and transferred later to a summer camp by Gorcyca after they repeatedly refused her orders to have a relationship with their father, Omer Tsimhoni. Tsimhoni claimed his ex-wife had turned his children against him. The couple divorced in August 2011 but have been battling over visitation and custody of their two sons, aged 14 and 11, and a 9-year-old daughter.
“While some of the actions taken by the court may seem extreme ... the report from the Guardian Ad Litem appointed to represent the children suggests that they were warranted and productive,” Kelly said in a ruling in which he cited case law that says a trial judge is to be presumed fair and impartial and any effort at disqualification bears a heavy burden.
“After reviewing the record and considering the arguments advanced, this court finds the plaintiff (Eibschitz-Tsimhoni) has failed to timely challenge Judge Gorcyca ... and failed to establish the necessary proof of bias or prejudice,” Kelly ruled in denying the request.
Gorcyca found the children in contempt when they refused to eat with, talk to or even look at their father. She called the behavior “cult like” and scolded them and their mother for not following the court’s instructions.
Under Gorcyca’s orders the children are living with their father — with no contact with their mother — after attending a five-day parental alienation treatment program.