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Parental alienation can bring out the worst in anyone

Frustration among divorcing parents over ongoing acts of parental alienation is all too common. Being denied time with children presents challenges that often reach the boiling point where parents at odds are not always at their best.

However, a judge losing her temper behind the bench is rare.

A contentious child custody dispute that has dragged on for years finally got the best of Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca. The Michigan State Supreme Court is reviewing the handling of a controversial child custody case to determine if the judge is guilty of misconduct.

The bitterly contested and drawn out divorce and custody case between Omer Tsimhoni and his ex-wife, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has received national coverage. According to father’s rights advocates, it is the classic definition of parental alienation.

The case has dragged on for so long that the register to log them in is more than 50 pages. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni is now on her 16th lawyer while Tsimhoni has gone through four. In one appearance, the children sat in chairs in the hallway, locking their arms together and refusing to enter the courtroom.

On June 24, 2015, Judge Gorcyca had enough with the antics of all involved parties. Upon discovering that the children disobeyed her order to visit their father, Gorcyca sent the three Tsimhoni siblings, ages 9, 10 and 13, to a juvenile detention facility for 17 days.

She then went on to compare the oldest child to cult leader Charges Manson while she circled her ear with her finger. Gorcyca also asked the nine-year-old if she wanted to join her brother in jail where strangers would be watching them going to the bathroom.

State Supreme Court justices questioned Gorcyca’s attorneys and the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, which previously ruled the judge committed judicial misconduct. The commission recommended a 30-day suspension from the bench.

Justices noted that Gorcyca’s use of her contempt power could have been a legal error, not an ethical lapse. Correcting legal errors is under the jurisdiction of the appeals court, not the commission.

The judge’s lawyers requested that the court dismiss the charges because her actions did not meet the standard of misconduct. After years of good faith and due diligence, with a large part of that time spend on one case, they argued the judge’s act was a single instance, not persistent behavior.

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