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Child custody case leads to findings of judicial misconduct

When Florida parents go before a court of law to determine issues of custody, they expect for the process to move forward in a manner that is professional, courteous and in line with the spirit of state law. In the vast majority of child custody cases, that is exactly what happens, and the issue is resolved in a way that is fair and just, with the best interests of the children at the center of the process. In some cases, however, parents do not receive the treatment that they expect in family court. An example is found in a high profile case that has led to a finding of judicial misconduct on the part of the family court judge.

A complaint about the way that the case was handled was brought before the state's Judicial Tenure Commission. The parents involved in the case had been at odds over child custody for nearly seven years, and the children had become firmly estranged from their father. They refused to visit or even speak with him, and after refusing to go to a court-ordered visit, the judge in the case found all three children guilty of contempt of court and sent them to a juvenile detention facility.

In addition, she told the kids, who are now ages 14, 11 and 10, that they would be kept in detention until they turned 18. They were also told that they would have to use the bathroom in front of other people and be locked in jail cells until adulthood. She also compared the actions of one of the kids to cult leader Charles Manson, and made a circular motion around her temple with her finger.

When the state's Judicial Tenure Commission reviewed the case, they found that the judge did in fact display misconduct in handling the child custody matter. She will have the right to fight that ruling at the level of the state's Supreme Court. It is also possible that she will face disciplinary measures, although that will be decided by the Judicial Tenure Commission at a later time. For those in Florida who are concerned about the issue of judicial misconduct, the outcome of this case serves as an example of the oversight to which judges across the country are subject.  

Source: freep.com, "Judge Lisa Gorcyca guilty of misconduct in child custody case", Stephen Pepple, July 1, 2016

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