Mother’s lawyers want guardian removed from contentious custody case
Pontiac — A contentious Oakland Circuit Court custody case involving three Bloomfield Hills children who were removed from their mother’s home after they repeatedly snubbed their father may be about to take another turn.
Judge Joan Young — the second Oakland Circuit judge to be appointed to the case — is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday to remove veteran guardian ad-litem William Lansat, who was appointed to safeguard the legal interests of two brothers, aged 14 and 11, and their 9-year old sister.
The attorneys for the children’s mother, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, claim Lansat has overstepped his authority and ignored reports from their therapists that the current situation is damaging to the children.
There is a gag order in the case but court records show the removal request was made by Francie Novar and Wilson Tanner, attorneys for the children’s mother who wants them back in her home pending the resolution of the custody matter. She has been ordered to have no contact with the children, who want to live with her.
Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and her husband, Omer, divorced in 2011 and she was initially awarded full custody and he was granted visitation privileges.
Tsimhoni became upset when the children would have nothing to do with him and he went to court claiming his ex-wife had turned the children against him. The children refused to talk or even look at him, their father complained. The children said Tsimhoni displayed violent behavior and they feared him.
The case made international news after Judge Lisa Gorcyca placed the three children in the county’s Children Village facility, then a summer camp and lastly in an intensive five-day parental alienation program to be followed by therapy and living with their father for several months.
Gorcyca insisted she was acting on the advice of several youth professionals, including Lansat, who said they needed to be temporarily separated from their mother’s influence. Both parents were also ordered to have counseling.
Gorcyca eventually stepped down from the case Dec. 28, two weeks after the Judicial Tenure Commission filed a complaint against her. The complaint will be reviewed by retired Wayne Circuit Judge Daniel P. Ryan.
In a four-page opinion last month, Gorcyca wrote that although she isn’t biased against either party in the case, she would withdraw because of the commission’s complaint.
Lansat was brought on as guardian ad-litem in September 2010. In August 2011 he was appointed parenting time cordinator to help facilitate the visits of the father, an automotive engineer who spent the majority of his time in Israel.
Gorcyca instructed Lansat to participate in meetings for both parents involving parental alienation and also to look into alleged child abuse and to assess what, if any, counseling was needed.
Ryan is the third judge to be asked to look into Gorcyca’s actions. After Gorcyca refused to recuse herself from the case, the matter went before chief Oakland Circuit Judge Nanci Grant, who disqualified herself from hearing it because of possible conflict of interest.
The State Court Administrator’s office then moved the disqualification request before St. Clair Circuit Judge Daniel Kelly, who found in November 2015 that the allegations made by Eibschitz-Tsimoni’s attorneys were “without merit.”
The custody case was sent back before Gorcyca,who maintained the order that the children remain in the custody of their father pending a resolution of permanent custody.
In court records dated Jan. 21, Gorcyca responded to the Judicial Tenure Commission and denied she engaged in judicial misconduct.
Gorcyca admitted and apologized for expressing frustration during the June 23 hearing, including making a circular motion with a finger alongside her head that the mother’s attorneys felt suggested the child’s state of mind. Gorcyca said her actions were mischaracterized and “she wasn’t indicating he was crazy but the forward motion he would make in therapy,” according to her response to the tenure commission.
Gorcyca, who has been on the bench for seven years, said she was frustrated by the children repeatedly ignoring her instructions to have a healthy relationship with their father. She reportedly laughed when one child refused to have lunch with the father in the courthouse cafeteria and called the behavior “ridiculous.”
“Judge Gorcyca again apologizes for the display of frustration in this exchange and is aware this is not a laughing matter,” Gorcyca wrote the commission.
“Judge Gorcyca was frustrated with the seemingly nonsensical decisions being made by (the children).”