Guest Post — June 6, 2016 at 6:19 am

GUEST POST: Attorneys’ support for Oakland Circuit Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca smacks of apple polishing


Last year, Tali Wendrow penned two guest posts for Eclectablog. In the first, she described the outrageous treatment her family received at the hands of former Oakland County Prosecuter David Gorcyca and his staff. Here’s what Tali wrote in that piece:

In late 2007, our family suffered a nightmare of enormous proportion as my husband was charged with the worst sort of crime, sexual abuse of our disabled daughter. I was accused of ignoring the crime(s) occurring under my roof. Our non-verbal, autistic daughter allegedly made the statements through facilitated communication, a controversial (to say the least) method of communication we had been using with her. While fact after fact demonstrated that no such abuse occurred, the police and prosecutors proceeded full speed ahead. The criminal charges were ultimately dropped.

The Wendrows sued Gorcyca and his department and, last summer, settled for $2 million.

The second piece by Wendrow was a cautionary story about Gorcyca’s wife Lisa, an Oakland Circuit Court Judge. Lisa Gorcyca is facing disciplinary action by the Judicial Tenure Commission over her outrageous behavior in a difficult custody case. Wendrow lays out how Judge Gorcyca’s actions are not so unexpected when you see how her husband operated in his position as prosecutor. Lisa Gorcyca worked in David Gorcyca’s early in her career. Here’s what Wendrow wrote:

I don’t know if it’s common practice in Prosecutor’s offices around the country to remove children to “break” a mother to testify against her husband or to allow law enforcement to interrogate a child in order to “break” him to testify against a parent, or if it’s common place to remove children in order to make an intransigent divorcing parent capitulate from an irrational position, but I do know that such tactics were common in David Gorcyca’s office. And now we all know that such tactics were used by his wife in a high-conflict divorce case.

Last week, around 200 Metro Detroit attorneys came to Lisa Gorcyca’s defense, sending a letter to the Judicial Tenure Commission to ask them not to take action against her. You can read the details HERE.

Below are Tali Wendrow’s thoughts on the matter.

Last week, the Detroit News published a letter of support for Oakland Circuit Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca signed by 200 lawyers. I have been wondering where was my letter of support from 200 attorneys who knew of my record of integrity, dedication to my children, to my family, to my community, my work ethic, my kindness? When I needed it most, when my very liberty and the most precious thing – my parental rights – were at stake, attorneys and even some judges in the community quietly supported me. People would tell me that this one or that one “had my back” or that they knew the allegations were bogus but they never published a letter of support which would be sent to the body reviewing the case and published in a major news source. They let the process play out.

The truth is that, other than the attorneys of record who fought so hard on our behalf as part of the legal process, no one in the legal community was willing to publicly challenge the old boy network that was in the process of persecuting our family. I am not complaining about the representation we received – I thank God every day that we had the people we did fighting so hard for our family – I know how fortunate we were to be in their capable hands. But the greater legal community, those not directly involved in our case, they waited until it was safe to do so before being openly supportive and they didn’t rally together and draft a letter.

What’s different about judge Lisa Gorcyca? She has one of the best attorneys in Oakland County representing her interests (no doubt being paid for by your tax dollars) yet additionally 200 of Oakland County’s attorneys, those who practice in family court and those who don’t, including the attorney who represented the county and dragged proceedings for eight years in the civil suit our family brought to seek vindication for the outrageous actions against us, have gathered their signatures extolling her virtues as a judge and deriding the Judicial Tenure Commission’s charges as unfair.

There’s a process underway, why not let it play out before signing a letter in support? After all, we all read the transcript of her actions on the day in question. There’s no question about what happened. Why draft an open letter and gather signatures of members of the Bar? Because lawyers never want to anger the judges before whom they might appear. They’re hedging their bets because the reality is that, at worst, Judge Gorcyca will be censured. She won’t lose her job and they’ll have to appear before her again some day or they might want to maintain their status in Oakland County’s elite set. Better let her know you were always on her side. I get that. People have mortgages to pay and families to feed.

But where’s their integrity?

It is irrelevant that (in their collective opinion) Lisa Gorcyca is generally a good judge. In this instance, she fell well short of her obligations. Just as an ordinary citizen’s fantastic driving record is not dispositive of whether they are held to account for a first (and perhaps only) drunk driving episode, this is no different. She was wrong. She should be held to account for that – perhaps she shouldn’t lose her seat on the bench but let the process play out.

I would prefer that the collective moral outrage of some of Oakland County’s finest attorneys would be brought to bear when there is a true threat to a fellow attorney’s liberty and when that threat to liberty is completely unjustified. And frankly, I’d prefer to see such collective efforts be made to rectify other acts of government overreach which occur in the lives of ordinary citizens every day.