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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Blind Draw for Family Court Judges

Mom and Dad Tsimhoni
Judges must be fair and impartial despite the intense family emotions that swirl about their case load. The judicial system depends on that bedrock principle.

When you file a case in one of the county family courts here in Michigan, the county clerk that processes the complaint utilizes a blind draw system to assign your judge. This means that litigants cannot select the judge assigned to their case.

Sometimes, family court litigants are viscerally dissatisfied with the judge assigned to their case, especially when the judge makes decisions adverse to their interests. In every case, the family court judge will upset one of the two parents embroiled in a custody or parenting battle.

Judges are required to remain neutral, unbiased finders of fact; these judges are charged with determining the best interests of the minor children in every case. From time to time, a parent believes that the judge has lost their impartiality and claims that their judge is personally invested in their case to the point of bias.

When these allegations surface, one option available to family court litigants is to file a motion to disqualify the judge. If a family court judge denies such a motion, then the offended litigant can file the motion with the chief judge of the circuit court.

Recently, this procedure played-out in the high-profile, high-conflict Tsimhoni divorce. The mother attempted to disqualify Judge Lisa Gorcyca after her three children spent their summer in Children's Village and at a court-ordered juvenile camp, and more-recently, after she lost custody of the children to her ex-husband.

After these adverse rulings, and after she changed lawyers for about the 10th time, mother filed the motion to DQ the judge, and Judge Gorcyca denied the requested relief, refusing to step down from the case. Among the thousands of cases on the open family court docket in Oakland County, this one stands-out due to mother's severe parental alienation against the father.

Mother's new lawyer filed an appeal with Oakland Circuit's Judge Nanci Grant, the chief judge of the court.

Now, as this parental alienation case blew-up in the national media because both parents refused to work together as co-parents, they tossed it into the lap of the Oakland County Family Court where Judge Nanci Grant has recused herself from hearing the appeal of mother's attempt to disqualify Judge Gorcyca.

This was a very strategic move by the veteran Oakland County chief judge. Now that she has recused herself, the case goes before the plenary court to determine whether any of the remaining judges wish to take the case.  We don't think there will be any takers.

If none of the judges on the Oakland County Circuit Court want this steaming pile of horse dung, it goes to the family court judges of an adjacent county like Wayne, Genesee or Macomb County Circuit Courts.

The parents now need to bury the hatchet and regain control of their family for the sake of their children.

One of the best kept secrets of the family court is that the judges are powerless if the parents agree on a plan going forward. If they cannot agree, then they judges have the power to control every aspect of of their family life.

It is exceedingly difficult and rare to successfully bring a motion to disqualify a judge. For the most part, family court litigants are stuck with the "luck-of-the-draw" where judicial case assignments are concerned.

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Post #502


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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timothty P. Flynn, you should be ashamed of yourself for such irresponsible journalism. There are so many claims in this blog that just aren't true. If you cared to actually look at this case in it's entirety, you would know that the mother has not "lost custody" to the father. The orders still read that she has sole physical custody.

You talk about Parental Alienation as if there is a "real" law regarding it. Parental Alienation isn't even recognized by the psychology professionals as a diagnosis to anything. There is no definitive proof that 'parental alienation' as you define it is even happening here. That was what the trial for legal and physical custody would attempt to determine if in fact it can even be addressed in a trial.

You say that because Judge Grant recused herself from hearing the appeal to remove Judge Gorcyca, the family goes back into a pool of judges at the Circuit Court level to decide who will hear the case to have Judge Gorcyca disqualified. Do your homework. A Circuit Court case gets appealed to the chief judge at the Circuit Court level which was Judge Nancy Grant. When she refused the case, she paved the way to the Michigan Court of Appeals where it will be heard now.

If your boss is going to allow you to 'blog' about law, they should understand that you are clueless about your job. The 'press' also prides itself on staying neutral especially in high profile cases like this where children are involved. I guess there is no pride at the Oakland Press.

You appear to be looking for people to comment on your blog so that you can garner attention for yourself. I guess you got my attention but I'll tell you, I'll never go to the Oakland Press for my information in the future. Having narcissistic journalists does not create a quality newspaper...pathetic:(.

How much did Omer's wife's PR company pay you to write this "horse dung"?

October 27, 2015 at 3:58 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Anonymous, well, er, thanks for reading our blog and taking the time to post a comment. You sound angry and we appear to have stepped into the path of that anger.

We do not get paid by anybody to write this stuff. Also, I have no "boss"; those days are over for me. So you are stuck with me for now, but it does not sound like you will be reading our future posts, which is your choice; we respect that decision but hope you will reconsider.

As for your specific challenges, perhaps you are correct, we have not actually read the Tsimhoni file. If we did, we would probably find an order of joint legal custody as you point out. It was our "impression", however, from reading recent news reports about the case that Mom lost what lawyers call "physical custody", at least temporarily.

As for parental alienation, this case is known for it; no one argues otherwise. We are not saying that parental alienation is a "syndrome" recognized by the American Psychiatric Association; the junk science behind the effort to list parental alienation in the DSM IV was debunked in the late 1990s and the effort failed. But any family law professional can tell you that parental alienation exists; it truly is out there; it's just not science but rather, human nature.

Addressing the disqualification motion, we are familiar with a procedure that allows a litigant to take their motion to DQ a judge to the chief judge where there are options. If none of the other judges in the venue circuit will take a case, it can be reassigned to another venue. As for any of the court orders flowing from the DQ procedure, you are correct, those orders can be appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals; a forum with which we are well familiar.

And finally, wincing, I address your charge of "narcissistic" journalism. While anyone that dares to post content on the Internet under their own name these days takes certain risks, and while those of us that do post certainly have some ego going on -or at least confidence in their own thoughts- "narcissistic", in our opinion, goes too far.

I wonder, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, who you are; whether I know you; whether you are a family law professional -you sure sound like one- whether you are involved in this case. See, that's the cool thing about being anonymous; you get to hide.

October 28, 2015 at 7:06 AM 
Blogger Patti Roberts said...

If people love their kids, or even their wallet, stay out of family court.

October 29, 2015 at 10:13 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Timothy Flynn says, "whether you are a family law professional -you sure sound like one," yet earlier says, "any family law professional can tell you that parental alienation exists." It appears from Anonymous' post that he or she would argue that parental alienation is not real.

This part of the sentence makes no sense: "It's just not science but rather, human nature." What is "human nature" based on if not science? By definition, "human nature" excludes cultural influences.

The construct of "parental alienation" meets neither the Frye nor the Daubert standard for admissibility.

November 8, 2015 at 10:48 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Great, we've got anonymous commenting on anonymous.

November 9, 2015 at 6:08 AM 

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