Oakland circuit judge challenges judicial board’s review of her actions
Pontiac — An Oakland Circuit judge, under fire for her handling of a contentious child custody matter, is raising allegations regarding the very people who are to fairly assess her conduct on the bench.
Judge Lisa Gorcyca is subject of a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission complaint regarding her actions in court during the Tsimhoni child custody case.
The Bloomfield Hills couple divorced in 2011 and the mother, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, was initially awarded full custody and the father, Omer Tsimhoni, visitation privileges. But when the children would have nothing to do with their father he complained his ex-wife had turned them against him and sought full custody.
Gorcyca ordered the two brothers, aged 14 and 11, and their 9-year-old sister, into Children’s Village county detention facility for disobeying her orders to have a relationship with their father. Between November 2011 and July 2015, the court entered over 30 orders regarding issues of parenting time and other disputes in the relationship.
Gorcyca described the children as engaging in cult-like activity, refusing to eat, talk or even look at their father. She was also criticized for scolding them and laughing in court and making a circular motion with her finger alongside her head which their mother contended referred to their state of mind.
The children, ordered removed from their mother’s custody for several months, are now splitting time with each of their divorced parents, pending a hearing to determine if custody will be changed.
The Judicial Tenure Commission, which investigates alleged judicial misconduct, wrote a formal complaint on Gorcyca on Dec. 14 and has scheduled a May 31 hearing, to be heard by former Wayne Circuit Judge Daniel Ryan. Gorcyca recused herself from the case two weeks after the formal complaint.
If allegations are substantiated in such hearings, it can lead to disciplinary action against Gorcyca.
Gorcyca has denied her actions amounted to judicial misconduct. In a filing with the Judicial Tenure Commission this week, she asked that the examiner — the commission’s executive director Paul J. Fischer and his staff, including Margaret N.S. Rynier — be disqualified from prosecuting the matter.
“We cannot and will not discuss any of this (motion),” Rynier said Friday when asked to respond to the allegations.
Gorcyca’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
A hearing on Gorcyca’s request is set for 9:30 a.m. Friday in Plymouth District Court. She is alleging “prosecutorial misconduct” in the investigation and seeks to have an independent examiner appointed to the case.
Gorcyca alleges that contrary to taking an independent position Fischer and Rynier “have questioned that ruling and contacted attorneys in the case below to effect oversight of the custody arrangement.”
Among allegations which Gorcyca believes show prejudicial conduct and will prevent her from getting a fair hearing:
■ Fischer allegedly contacted a guardian-ad-litem, William Lansat, to inquire about the well being of the children while they were in their father’s custody and asked why Gorcyca had not disqualified herself from the case.
■ Fischer also asked Lansat to facilitate a meeting between the children and the Israeli Consul General in Chicago. Lansat refused.
■ Rynier, using the office of the examiner, contacted Keri Middleditch, the attorney for the children’s father, and asked to interview the oldest boy. Middleditch refused.
■ Rynier allegedly asked at least three witnesses to be called, about the ethnicity/religion of the children and also the ethnicity/religion of Gorcyca.
“These actions go directly to the proof of Judge Gorcyca’s contention that she has not been provided the due process to which she is entitled,” according to her filing. The actions exhibit a conflict of interest by Fischer’s office, the filing contends.