Family court bias

Update: Judge Lisa Gorcyca Disqualified

According to reports, Judge Lisa Gorcyca has removed herself from the Tsimhoni case after the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint in response to Gorcyca’s conduct during the Tsimhoni v. Tshimhoni custody case. The Supreme Court was asked to appoint a Special Master to oversee and investigate the complaint. The Complaint filed against Judge Gorcyca cited sixteen violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Some of the complaints are as follows:

  • Misconduct in office
  • Conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice
  • Failure to establish, maintain, enforce, and personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved
  • Responsible or improper conduct which erodes public confidence in the judiciary
  • Conduct involving impropriety and the appearance of impropriety
  • Failure to respect and observe the law and to conduct herself at all times in a manner which would promote the public’s confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary
  • Failure to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it

Lawyers representing Dr. Maya Tsimhoni filed an Order To Disqualify Judge with the Michigan Court of Appeals in September of 2015. Gorcyca refused to recuse herself, citing that neither she nor the court were biased for or against either party.

In the course of the Tsimhoni custody case, Judge Lisa Gorcyca has:

  • Laughed at the Tsimhoni children
  • Raised her voice at the Tshimhoni children
  • Made circular movements around her temple with her finger implying that one of the children was crazy.
  • Compared the three Tsimhoni children and their mother to a Charles Manson cult.
  • Ordered the children (ages 14, 10, and 9) to speak to their father and sent them all to a detention center after they refused. The two eldest children were handcuffed and led away. After public outcry and national news attention, Judge Gorcyca had the children sent to summer camp at a cost of $30,000 to the parents.
  • Placed the children in a reunification program with father Omer Tshimhoni. The Tsimhoni children have been denied contact with their mother – a respected member of society with no criminal record and for whom no allegations of child abuse or neglect have been made- for over 170 days.
  • Issued a gag order in the case.

The Tsimhoni case began in 2009 and has garnered international media coverage.  The activist group, Justice For Tsimhoni Children, has closely followed the Tsimhoni custody case. The group has led to many articles, posts, and essays on the Tshimhoni case going viral, including a post I wrote in September. In addition to pushing media coverage of the case, the group has compiled court documents, advocated for procedures and motions to be filed, offered a show of support for Maya and her children, installed court watchers to document court bias, and offered moral support to protective parents worldwide who have lost custody of their children due to family court bias. My Open Letter To Judge Gorcyca was written to rally activists who had grown weary and discouraged during the Tsimhoni case in addition to offering support to protective parents worldwide. The Justice For Tsimhoni activists have fought tirelessly and courageously to see justice for Maya Tsimhoni and her children and many have experienced family court bias themselves.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission may have filed their complaint based on the very loud public response to Judge Gorcyca’s controversial behavior during the Tsimhoni case. We the people still have power and the Tsimhoni case is proof that when we raise our voices and unite, we can effect change.

Hopefully, the Tsimhoni case will now be heard by an unbiased judge that will reunite the Tsimhoni children with their mother and bring the Tsimhoni’s family court nightmare to an end.



Case files may be accessed here, courtesy of the Justice For Tsimhoni Children news and media site.

An Open Letter To Judge Gorcyca

For reference: The Tsimhoni Case and Justice for Tsimhoni Children

Dear Judge Gorcyca,

You don’t know me. Not personally. But I know you. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Mother.

I know the profile of an abuser, and you fit that profile.

In June of 2009, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, posed this question to the National Summit on the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment, “Do children need a relationship with their fathers even when their fathers have been abusive to them in the past? If so, what does that relationship look like?”

I’ll tell you what it looks like, Your Honor. An abuser threatens his victim. He tells her that he’ll take her children away if she doesn’t submit. In order to break her mentally and physically, an abuser will drag out conflict oftentimes after his victim has already worked hard all day, denying her rest, knowing she’ll need to wake early to care for her children, this being the eleventh hour. Abusers thrive on conflict, violence, and abuse. It sustains them. They tell their victim to remain silent about the abuse or suffer the consequences. They isolate their victim from a supportive network of friends and family. The abuser demands love and respect, and if those demands go unmet, then the abuser will take drastic measures to ensure obedience, using their position of privilege and power to manipulate, subdue, and control.

You said you wanted something drastic to happen to fix Maya Tsimhoni’s family. You knew full well that a family torn apart by abuse could never be whole again. You knew, but you didn’t care. You saw a fat checking account, and like an abuser in the eleventh hour, you dragged out the conflict for years because litigation incurring fees of a half a million dollars or more is of greater value than justice. You thrive on that conflict. It sustains you.

You forced Maya Tsimhoni’s children to have lunch with and to maintain a loving relationship with a father whose abuse has been documented. You slammed that gavel down, and when the Tsimhoni children refused to obey, you handcuffed and imprisoned them. And like the abuser who threatens his victim with the loss of her children, you threatened Maya Tsimhoni saying that if she violated your orders, you would imprison her children again.

Abusers isolate their victims, cutting them off from supportive and loving connections like friends and family. You tore children from a loving, primary caretaker and isolated them from each other, imprisoning them all and severing their supportive network in order to break them down and ensure submission.

Silence allows abuse to thrive, and so you put a gag order in place. You also sealed Maya Tsimhoni’s response to her abuser’s motion for custody. You said you were concerned about the Tsimhoni children’s privacy, but one does not place children in handcuffs to ensure their protection. No, you needed to conceal the overreach of the family court and your abuse of power; to hide from the world the human rights violations and child abuse being carried out by those working in family courts who profit financially from abused women and children. Silence hides abuse and this allows for its continuation. I, Mother, am not fooled by your actions.

So while you don’t know me Judge Gorcyca, I know you very well. I lived with you for many years. I documented your abuse. I spoke out against your abuse. I protected my children. I fought you for custody. I know your strategy.

I am Mother. I am the 58,000 women a year who have faced your courtroom bias. I am the protective parent fighting for my children. I am the activist effecting legislative change and educating others. And though you steal my voice with your gag order, know that where I am silenced thousands more speak in my place.

We are many. We are united.

And justice will prevail.