You don't need to be an expert legal observer to know that custody battles can be some of the ugliest, most drawn-out court cases. But one particular custody fight in Oakland County has become an outstanding example of this kind of battle. And a new turn has been added today.
The case earned headlines earlier this summer, when Maya and Omer Tsimhoni were in the fifth year of their custody battle over their children, Liam, Rowie, and Nathalie. Protracted legal battles can quickly add up to a fortune, but the divorced parents heading up this family didn't lack the means to keep slugging away at each other legally: Maya is a respected glaucoma researcher and Omer is a traffic engineer working for a major auto company.
The turn that garnered the dispute international media coverage this June was the behavior of Judge Lisa O. Gorcyca, who dressed down the children when they said they didn't want to see their father. Rather than hear out and find reasonable their allegations that they feared their father, she found the kids in contempt of court, and had them, handcuffed, marched out of court, and shipped off to a juvenile detention facility, hinting that they'd remain there until they were 18.
A few choice quotes from the judge include:
To Liam: "You’re supposed to have a high IQ, which I’m doubting right now because of the way you act, you’re very defiant, you have no manners.”
When discussing detention with the 9-year-old girl: “Do you like going to the bathroom in front of people? ... Is your bed soft and comfortable?”
To the children: "When you are ready to have lunch with your dad, to have dinner with your dad, to be normal human beings, I will review this when your dad tells me you are ready. ... Otherwise, you are living in Children's Village 'til you graduate from high school. That is the order of the court. Goodbye."
Judge Gorcyca also compared the relationship between mother and child to that of Charles Manson and his followers, while maintaining that the father was a very good man. (Doesn't sound biased at all, does it?)
Well, the news has come today that Judge Gorcyca has withdrawn herself from the case
. You see, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, the state's judicial watchdog agency, took a dim view of her courtroom antics. An official complaint
accused the judge of not acting "in a patient, dignified, and courteous manner." It also alleges that the judge “laughed at the children and was sarcastic.”
For her part, Gorcyca maintains that she did nothing wrong. She also denies having displayed any bias. She says the reason she's recusing herself from the case is to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
You know what else avoids the appearance of impropriety? Not browbeating young children and having them handcuffed and threatened them with years of incarceration because they're scared of their father. That might be a good start, huh?