Very defiant

Via Ken White at Popehat, a horrible story of a judge abusing her power over children in a bad divorce case.

Judge Lisa Gorcyca, a judge in Oakland County, Michigan, is getting quite a lot of press this week for sending three kids to juvenile detention.

Judge Gorcyca doesn’t preside in criminal court. She doesn’t rule on delinquency petitions in juvenile court. She’s a judge in the Family Division. And she sent three kids to juvenile detention — and specifically ordered them separated — because they didn’t obey her orders to cultivate a warm relationship with their estranged father.

You can read about it here, or here, or here, or here, or at Reason.

She what??

My god, who would do that?

I was in an anguished and anguishing custody mess as a teenager. I can’t begin to describe the guilt and conflict I felt. I also can’t begin to imagine what it would have been like to have a judge send me to juvie for whichever decision I made. I was fifteen; what did I know?

Consider the things Judge Gorcyca said to, and about, these children as she declared them in contempt of court:

To the 15-year-old, who didn’t want to have lunch with his father because, he said, he saw his father hit his mother:

“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.”

. . . .

But to the boy, the judge said: “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.”

Holy shit. She said that to a kid in a custody case.

To the boy’s little sister:

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.”

Ken says Gorcyca isn’t a monster, she’s got a case of power-madness.

Judge Lisa Gorcyca doesn’t hate kids. She isn’t some monster who has hidden sociopathy her whole career. The evil of Lisa Gorcyca — and people like her throughout America’s justice system — isn’t of the cinematic sort. It’s banal. It’s not the evil of wanting to hurt children; it’s the evil of indifference to them. It’s not the evil of bloodthirstiness; its the evil of petulance, the evil of mediocrity given power and then thwarted.

The banal kind of evil, in other words. It sounds plausible. People just aren’t very good at thinking about the suffering of other people.


  1. Sea Monster says

    What kind of parent want this outcome? If the judge is so religious perhaps she should consider the wisdom of Solomon.

    Judge is also using the “if there’s no conviction” fallacy.

  2. Trebuchet says

    A bit off-topic, but I sure wish Popehat would update properly so I could actually read the recent stuff.

  3. sambarge says

    I read the transcripts earlier today and an interview with the father – who is in Israel on business and NOT trying to get his kids out of juvenile hall. His statement was, essentially, their mother brought this on them and she is to blame. To me, it sounds like the kind of thing a family annihilator says after killing the children rather than giving them back after an unsupervised visit.

    Let me tell you what: I love my daughter. If she didn’t want to see me and she wanted to live with her dad exclusively, I would prefer that to having her incarcerated. Regardless of my relationship with her father (very loving, nothing to see here) I want her to be safe, secure and loved. So long as she’s getting appropriate care, I would not allow her incarcerated because she didn’t want to visit with me. In no universe would I imagine that my wants trump her wants or needs.

    But then, I love my child and don’t see her as a pawn.

  4. Rob says

    I read this yesterday and it left me filled with anger, disgust and loathing for just about every adult involved. From the parents using children as weapons, to the power mad judge taking their frustration in a case that wont go away out on kids, to the indifference of the lawyers (both the parents lawyers and the court appointed ones for the kids) who couldn’t even be bothered to challenge the judge.
    My parents separated when I was seven and my custody wasn’t settled until I was 12. In that time I was shuttled back and forth between my parents, seized literally out of a classroom and taken hundreds of kilometres away on one occasion, interviewed by an endless stream of social workers who would then put the words of whichever parent was paying them into my mouth. It was frightening, sickening and deeply disempowering to me as a child and took decades of hard work to undo the worst of the damage done. I feel nothing but sympathy and sorrow for those children (you to Ophelia).
    Thankfully, family courts in my country have moved on somewhat with the law requiring that the child’s interests are paramount over either parents. Sickening that this still happens.

  5. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    These kids saw their father hit their mother. But no, them choosing to not wanting a relationship with someone like that is completely verboten, and it’s all the mother’s fault. Of course. This judge should be disbarred. It’s freaking ridiculous.

  6. johnthedrunkard says

    ‘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.’

    Bill Cosby in family court?

  7. laekvk says

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, imagine a authoritarian worshiper licking the boot, imagine the onlookers apologizing for the police brutality, imagine forever

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