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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission files against Oakland County judge

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED ON 11/16/16

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has issued a formal complaint against an Oakland County judge for misconduct.

At a June hearing during a lengthy custody dispute, Judge Lisa Gorcyca found three siblings in contempt and ordered them to juvenile detention for refusing to communicate with and have lunch with their estranged father.

According to the complaint of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, Gorcyca laughed at the children, was sarcastic and used an angry voice. The Commission alleges Gorcyca made significant misrepresentations of law and fact, including that the children would not have any privacy in using the bathrooms at Children's Village and that their incarceration would not be reviewed until after they turned 18 years old.

The two-count complaint also accuses Gorcyca of making false statements to the Judicial Tenure Commission in her response letter during its initial investigation. 

Gorcyca's chambers referred questions to her attorney, Tom Cranmer.

"We are extremely disappointed that the Judicial Tenure Commission decided to proceed with a complaint but we are looking forward to telling the whole story of this tragic case at a formal hearing," said Cranmer in a written statement." In the end, we are confident that Judge Gorcyca will be fully vindicated and that the complaint against her will be dismissed."

Cranmer did not reply to a request for an interview.

According to Paul Fischer, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, the complaint has been submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court which will appoint a master, often a retired judge, to preside over a hearing. Fischer said Gorcyca has until Jan. 21 to respond to the complaint.

Update November 16, 2016

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has recommended that Gorcyca be publicly censured and suspended without pay for 30 days.

In a decision on Monday, the Commission found that Gorcyca abused her judicial powers of contempt by ordering three children to juvenile detention for refusing to engage in visitation with their father.

The Commission also found that Gorcyca gave misleading answers to the Commission and recommended she pay $12,554 for costs, fees, and expenses.

According to Glenn Page, interim executive director of the Commission, the findings and recommendations now go to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Page said Gorcyca has an opportunity to file objections to the Commission's decision.

Page said only the Supreme Court can discipline a judge, and it can reject, accept or modify the Commission's decision.