World's Best Judge Sends 3 Children To Juvie -- Indefinitely -- For Refusing To Have Lunch With Dad (UPDATED)
Update: New developments; see end of post. Let's all raise a glass to our own common sense today, as we can all celebrate the fact that we have a hell of a lot more of it than Oakland County (Michigan) Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca, who recently sent three children, aged 9 to 14, to juvenile detention for contempt of court after they refused to have lunch with their dad. The kids, stuck in one of those horrible divorce/custody cases that make family court so much fun for everyone, claim that their father is violent and hit their mother; the father claims that the mother poisoned the children against him, and somehow Judge Gorcyca decided that instead of doing anything about either parent, the best thing for everyone involved would be to slap three already emotionally fragile kids into a facility for juvenile criminal offenders. Until September.
No, we didn't really plan for this to be Worst Judge Ever Week at Wonkette.
"We'll review it when school starts, and you may be going to school there," Oakland County Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca told the children during a June 24 hearing, referring to the center in Waterford Township called Children's Village, where authorities house as many as 200 juvenile offenders.
Gorcyca, who blamed their mother for poisoning the children's attitude toward their father, ordered the children be sent to the center for defying her orders — while in court — that they go to lunch with their father.
The children -- ranging in age from 9 to 14 -- were deemed in contempt of court last month by Gorcyca for disobeying her orders to "have a healthy relationship with your father."
We're with WaPo's Radley Balko* on this: even if Gorcyca is right and the mom did undermine the kids' relationship with their dad, "why in the world would a judge punish the kids for that?"
The oldest boy, 14, apologized to the judge for "whatever I did to you," but then he got all mouthy, which is apparently why he now has to spend the entire summer -- at least -- in Kid Prison, with other 14-year-olds who have been robbing and assaulting people:
"But I do not apologize for — for not talking to him because I have a reason for that and that's because he's violent and he — I saw him hit my mom and I'm not gonna talk to him," the boy said, later telling the judge, "I didn't do anything wrong."
"No, you did," Gorcyca replied. "You -- I ordered you to talk to your father. You chose not to talk to your father. You defied a direct court order. It's direct contempt, so I am finding you guilty of civil contempt."
And apparently Judge Corcyca is convinced that the kids all belong in stir, seeing as how they're pretty much the same as Charles Manson, according to another account.* After telling the older boy that she was sending him to detention, the kid protested, and then Gorcyca treated him to a lecture about just how wrong the stupid 14-year-old was:
The boy responded: “But he was the one that (did) something wrong. I thought there (were) rules .. for not hitting someone.”
“You’re supposed to have a high IQ, which I’m doubting right now because of the way you act,” Gorcyca said.
“You’re very defiant. You have no manners … There is no reason why you do not have a relationship with your father. Your father has never been charged with anything. Your father’s never been convicted of anything. Your father doesn’t have a personal protection order against him. Your father is well-liked and loved by the community, his co-workers, his family (and) his colleagues. You, young man, have got it wrong. I think your father is a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you” [...]
“You need to do a research program on Charlie Manson and the cult that he has … You have bought yourself living in Children’s Village, going to the bathroom in public, and maybe summer school” [...]
“You are so mentally messed up right now and it’s not because of your father,” Gorcyca said.
“And one day you are going to realize what’s going on in this case and you’re going to apologize to your dad … Dad, if you ever think that he has changed and he’s no longer like Charlie Manson’s cult, then you let us know and we can (review the case).”
Well, we're willing to believe that, whatever his mental state when he walked into Judge Gorcyca's court, the kid is definitely messed up now.
Having disposed of the young thug who dared to defy her -- sending him off to juvie without allowing him to say goodbye to his mother, Maya Tsimhoni, and ordering that no one from his mother's side of the family be allowed to visit him, Judge Gorcyca turned her attention to the other two children, a ten-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl, who she also decided needed some time in the company of actual youthful offenders, although the boy did at least speak to his father during the hearing:
“Judge, I’m sorry for my behavior, and dad, I’m sorry for my behavior,” he said.
“Dad, the judge wanted me to talk to you so here is something about myself ? I enjoy soccer and I hope to be on the soccer team.”
A girl, 9, was asked if she would also like to apologize to her father, but she had no audible response.
“I know you’re kind of religious,” Gorcyca told the girl.
“God gave you a brain. He expects you to use it. You are not your big, defiant brother who’s living in jail. Do you want to live in jail?”
The girl said she would try to work with her father during visits, and Gorcyca told the children to go to lunch with their father.
“Let’s see, you’re going to be a teenager,” Gorcyca told the girl.
“You want to have your birthdays in Children’s Village? Do you like going to the bathroom in front of people? Is your bed soft and comfortable at home? I’ll tell you this, if you two don’t have a nice lunch with your dad and make this up to your dad, you’re going to come back here (after lunch) and I’m going to have the deputies take you to Children’s Village.”
The father suggested eating in a cafeteria at the courthouse, and the boy was asked what his thoughts were.
“I’ll go with my brother (to Children’s Village) then,” he said.
Gorcyca said the boy would not be allowed to contact his brother at Children’s Village.
The girl was asked whether she would eat lunch with her dad and she said no.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gorcyca said.
“One day you can watch this video and realize that you two have been brainwashed. Your dad is a good man … This is not normal behavior. No adult in this courtroom, except one, thinks this is normal. Every single adult in this courtroom thinks you have been brainwashed.”
In addition to sending the children to the tender mercies of a juvenile correctional facility, Gorcyca wanted to make extra sure that they'll get their brainwashed little heads together, so she ordered that they undergo psychiatric therapy and that they "be kept away from each other as much as possible,” so they can't plot the murders of Sharon Tate and others while listening to the White Album.
The New York Observer published an interview Wednesday with the kids' father, Omer Tsimhoni, which purports to present "the other side" of the story, but as WaPo's Balko points out, the article doesn't accomplish much more than to suggest that, yes, maybe the kids' mother did turn them against their dad:
But it doesn’t remotely vindicate Gorcyca’s brutish behavior. Either the father beat the mother, the mother has convinced the kids of this or the kids are lying about it because they simply don’t like their father. Under all three scenarios, berating three kids between the ages of 9 and , comparing them to Charles Manson, threatening them with humiliation, then taking away their freedom is behavior that ought to result in this judge getting removed from the bench. It’s also bizarre that the father seems completely unfazed by the judge’s unconscionable behavior. If he expressed any anger over it during the interview, it didn’t make it into the article.
We do learn a lot about why Mr. Tsimhoni and his ex can't stand each other. But there's not a word about whether he's visited them in the Crossbar Childcare, or even tried to. Also -- weirdly in our opinion -- the Observer piece identifies the kids by name and publishes photos of them, which seems pretty dubious in the journalism-about-kids department.
Even if Ms. Tsimhoni is the one who's done terrible things, why are the kids in jail? And dear god, when is this judge going to get taken off the case?
Judge Gorcyca is a former prosecutor for Oakland County. In a 2011 puff-piece profile, she was asked, "What is the guiding principle you live by?" Gorcyca answered,
As a prosecutor and in life, I live by the principle “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Fair enough. From here on in, we'll call you Lisa "Squeaky" Gorcyca.
*Balko and the Oakland County Daily Tribune incorrectly give the age of the oldest child as 15; The Detroit Free Press has since corrected its article to say that the boy is 14.
We know it's not much, but here are some adorable Corgis on a treadmill. It's probably a metaphor for these kids' lives at this point. You may want to go read some Dickens or Lemony Snickett to cheer up.
Update: Shortly after this story posted Friday, the Detroit Free Press reported that Judge Gorcyca has reversed part of her decision:
Oakland County Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca lifted her contempt of court rulings and ordered the release from juvenile detention of three kids at the center of a contentious child visitation case, The kids, at the father's request, will be sent to summer camp instead of keeping them in the county's juvenile detention center all summer.
Gorcyca's decision came during a court hearing this afternoon called to review the case of three siblings she ordered locked up for refusing to meet with their estranged father.
But will it be a JESUS CAMP?
Gorcyca noted that while at Children's Village, the three are not being housed with criminal offenders; she also "said that every alternative avenue presented to the court had been exhausted," according to the Free Press.
You'll also be delighted to know that "Brittany Kalso of OaklandCounty Children's Village told the court the children, two boys and a girl, are doing very well in custody." So hey, looks like everything's just peachy, now, apart from the parents constantly being at each other's throats.
As of this update, it is not yet known whether a loving pack of wolves had been located to be given a shot at raising the kids in a more emotionally supportive environment.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.