Judicial commission faults Oakland County judge in family dispute
Pontiac — The Judicial Tenure Commission has filed a complaint against Oakland Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca for her conduct in a highly publicized case in which three children were briefly detained for refusing to talk to their father.
Gorcyca has been overseeing the drawn-out custody battle between Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and Omer Tsimhoni, who alleges his ex-wife turned the children against him while he was working in Israel for General Motors. The children contend their father is violent and they are frightened of him.
The couple divorced in August 2011. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has had sole custody. Tsimhoni is seeking full custody.
Grievances regarding Gorcyca’s conduct were filed to the commission, said Paul Fischer, a commission examiner.
The judicial commission found that at June 24 contempt hearings for the children — boys 14 and 11, and their 9-year-old sister — Gorcyca was impatient; displayed improper demeanor; used a raised and/or angry voice; laughed at the children, and was sarcastic. The findings also said she made “significant misrepresentations of law and fact,” including telling the children they’d have to use the bathroom in public at Oakland Children’s Village juvenile detention facility, and that “a review of their incarceration would not take place until after they turned 18 years old,” according to the 13-page complaint.
The commission also charges Gorcyca was not honest in her answers to the panel.
Gorcyca, through a representative, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Judicial Tenure Commission decided to proceed with a complaint but we are looking forward to telling the whole story of this tragic case at a formal hearing. In the end, we are confident that Judge Gorcyca will be fully vindicated and that the complaint against her will be dismissed.”
Gorcyca also is accused of making circular motions at her temple during one child’s hearing, indicating the boy was crazy. The judge responded she “was referring to the forward movement he would make in therapy.”
The commission disagreed: “When making the circles at her temple, (Gorcyca) was comparing (the boy) to Charles Manson and his cult,” the complaint reads.
The commission also disagreed with Gorcyca’s denial that she found the children in contempt for their refusal to talk to or have lunch with their father.
The judge has 14 days to answer the complaint.
Gorcyca’s conduct, according to the commission, amounts to misconduct in office; conduct “clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice”; failing to maintain “high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved”; conduct that erodes public confidence in the bench; conduct involving impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; failure to “respect and observe the law” and conduct herself in a way that engenders confidence in the bench; failure to maintain professional competence in the law; failure to be patient and dignified; failure to avoid imposing “humiliating acts of discipline,” and a number of other charges.
The commission’s complaint, filed Monday, ends with an admonishment that “willful concealment, misrepresentation or failure to file such answer and disclosure shall be additional grounds of disciplinary action.”
A gag order in the case prevents the parents or their attorneys from discussing the matter.
The Michigan Supreme Court will appoint a special master, who will act as trial judge and make findings of fact.
The commission will determine if there was misconduct, and make a recommendation to the state Supreme Court, which will make an ultimate decision regarding Gorcyca’s fate.
The possible penalty, if wrongdoing is found, could be a public censure, a suspension without pay or removal from office, Fischer said.
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.