August 17, 2015

The Egregious Improprieties of Judge Gorcyca of Oakland County Family Court

*The following article is the result of a group effort,  written in the interest of justice for the Tsimhoni children. As their court custody case evolved, it captured the interest of people across the globe due its many twists, turns, and what many believe to be severe violations of constitutional rights*

The Egregious Improprieties of Judge Gorcyca of Oakland County Family Court

On June 24th, three children were taken out of Judge Lisa Gorcyca’s courtroom in handcuffs to be kept at Mandy’s Place, a detention facility for criminal and abused children. They were detained for weeks. The Judge told the children that they would be peeing in front of others, that they would be kept apart from their siblings and not able to see their mom. The Judge told them that they could expect to attend school there and incarcerated until they were 18.

Over ten thousand people signed an online petition to remove Gorcyca from the bench.
News reports about Gorcyca’s ruling went international, with some outlets receiving nearly 3,000 comments expressing disbelief, shock, and outrage for the children.

Only after the world got wind of what Gorcyca had done in her court (Transcript_here) did she decide to reassign the children to a summer camp. This was, once again, heedless of the children’s wishes to return to their home.

Their crime? Gorcyca told the children she found them in “direct contempt” because “I ordered you to have a healthy relationship with your father.” These three children were accused of being wrong to fear their father. These children were incredibly accomplished, earning math scholarships and excelling in sports. Deeply attached to each other and their mother, they were thriving in every single way we have to measure.

For our purposes, let us assume the CPS reports are false and that instead every single thing the judge suggested about the mother is true. Even if that were the case, neither divorced parents nor the children of divorce can be held to emotional standards to which the rest of us are not. This is a violation of the most fundamental rights we have.

Gorcyca, addressing the mother, explains that she wants to make these children act the way raped and tortured children do towards an abusive parent, saying, “I see kids who have been physically abused, tortured, raped, who still want to talk to their father, that still respect their father.”

But no account of child welfare should take the reaction of “tortured” children to be normative.
The well-being of children, however, clearly does include being kept out of juvenile detention. These centers are our national shame. Children who cannot stop acting out are sent there, where their behaviors do not lessen. Instead, children with behavioral issues seek victims among the non-criminal children housed in such facilities.

Though the father’s lawyer argued for it, it is inconceivable that any normal or loving parent would want their own children put in such a situation. One of these children spent his fifteenth birthday incarcerated and alone. You would think a Family Court Judge would be the one to point this out to a father and his attorney.

But what kind of person is untroubled by the jailing of nine-year-old children? The kind who, like this Judge, can be found taunting, name-calling, and threatening children in her court room transcripts.
There is no possible context that makes any of this acceptable.

The problem is not with Michigan law. It is clearly written and protective of children whose custody is being determined. For example, Michigan law articulates both standards for determining best interest as well as the factors necessary to consider in custody decisions. These factors include exactly what makes Gorcyca’s decision so outrageous: children’s wishes, current bonds, continuity and school performance.
Michigan also advertises firm rules for the transfer of custody. These include an outside referee who gets to review the evidence.

Gorcyca got around all of this by sending these children to jail, creating (in her mind, I suppose) the opportunity to change custody without going through the legal hoops.

Why would a Judge be interested in coming up with a method of transferring custody without the option of appeal, and so long after decisions about custody were made? As they say: follow the money.
In this case, the father has reported to the press that he has paid his lawyer, a friend of the Judge, nearly 500,000 dollars. “Friends of the court” (an apt term) court-appointed Guardians ad litem and other court-appointed counselors, are also paid a fortune for the time families are required to spend with them. This kind of conflict of interest is simply not tolerated in other fields because it leads to behavior like Gorcyca’s.

And just as you would expect, the methods these “friends of the court” employ can only be explained by the ability to charge for their use. They are laughably absurd. IQ tests and Rorschach tests are not unheard of.

“Friends of the court” are simply not trained or qualified to do all that they are tasked to do. They routinely partake in the  “dual relationships” forbidden by the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code: no one person can pretend to be an expert evaluator, parenting coordinator and therapist.
Gorcyca’s court is the perfect example of far from common sense parenting “experts” get when profit is the motive. Gorcyca and the “friends of the court” in this case quote, nearly verbatim, the bizarre and completely unscientific (it has no actual or possible empirical support) account of a psychologist who only did “research” through observation of his own parents. His aim was to make us think better of pedophilia. His method was to suggest that any parent who “expresses neutrality” toward an accused abuser … “is essentially communicating criticism of the father.” This “implied” criticism of an abusive parent can “engender and foster alienation.” (Parental Alienation Syndrome, Richard A. Gardner, p. 100, supra note 2.) In other words, you would have be enthusiastic about the abuser and his abuse to avoid being labeled abusive by Gorcyca’s court.

It is an obvious gambit. Use of such junk science as evidence has been forbidden at the Federal level.
Pennsylvania’s scandal, judges getting kick-backs for sentencing children to jail, is reason for deep concern over the conflicts of interest in Family Court. The case of Judge Gorcyca’s husband’s own ethical breaches, his having done the same thing to another family, is reason enough for Michigan to say enough is enough. His poor ethics ruined a family but cost Michigan taxpayers a mountain of money, too. Who can be for this?

When they become adults, these children will be able to sue Michigan for how it perpetuated this abuse upon them, likely ruining their emotional lives and impeding what had been their clear career and academic prospects. But that will not fix the system. Only we can fix the system. And right now, like all unethical systems, it does not even make any sense.

What can be done?

Let’s find some legislators who care and shine some light on this system for the good of our society, for our children. Let us be able to promise them: we will no longer let our judges call you names and tell you how they are going to hurt you. 

We know better.

The icy fingers of injustice will never prevail against those brave enough to stand up for what is right.

August 8, 2015

Call to Action (poem)

     Thousands upon thousands of American children will go through our family and child protective services courts this year. Some will end up beaten. Some will be forced into drug cartels. Some will end up victims of human trafficking. Some will end up dead.  Not just a few, but many.
     It does not have to happen. Yet it is happening, has happened, and will continue to happen until we as American citizens stand up against court corruption.  We must stop financial incentives for taking children out of families.  We must stop the courts from punishing loving, protective parents. We must ensure the courts have oversight. This is the money of American citizens being used to finance our court system, but more important, these are our children. Our little brothers and sisters. Our future.  We owe them justice. We owe it to our country to defend the constitutional rights of ALL citizens.
     This poem was inspired by the children of the system and the need for us to act quickly to end the injustice being forced on American children and families.

Call to Action

I accuse you of treachery, all you who dare stand
In our doorways and courtrooms with false judgments in hand
While the innocence spills from our children's veins 
For you steal their souls and feast on the remains

Take up your mantle of despair, you who care to see no wrong 
There's no justice to save you from the blood-lusting throng
You're their lifeline to gold for state coffers and pockets
Just one more name to be listed upon the court's dockets

March to your small graves, children who protest too hard
For the almighty may choose who to keep or discard
Who to send to the dwellings of those ripe with desire
For bruising childish flesh on their altars of fire

But hear this all you fearful, whose tears fall like rain
We're going to help you, we're breaking the chain
Your pain will not stay silenced or borne forever alone
The gatekeepers transgressions one day will be known

Their corruption exposed by those who are willing to stand
In our doorways and courtrooms, your true grievance in hand
All you who hear join to reclaim from sin-hardened hands
Our children, our courtrooms, as justice demands. 

© 2015 by Gina Locke

March 5, 2015

Malted Cocoa Cookies Recipe

These cookies can be made crispy or soft and fudgy, depending on your taste. The crispy ones are great for making cream filled sandwich cookies, while the soft ones take nicely to a dollop of whipped cream and fruit, though both are a tasty treat when eaten alone.

Malted Cocoa Cookies

1/2 stick (4 tbsp sweet cream butter)
3/4 cup white sugar (I use Baker's sugar)
1 whole egg, beaten
1/3 cup malted milk powder
4 tbsp cocoa 
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheet by linking it with non-stick aluminum foil. 

Cream butter and sugar together. Stir egg into creamed mixture. Stir in malted milk powder.  
In separate bowl, mix cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this to malted milk mixture and combine. This is an extremely thick mixture, so use a sturdy spoon. 

Use one tablespoon of mix for each cookie. You can drop the mix onto the cookie sheet, or roll each tablespoon of mix into a ball before placing on cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each cookie by pressing on the top with a non-stick spatula or clean, buttered hands. Don't worry, these will spread out while baking and become quite thin. 

Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the type of cookie you want and the efficiency of your oven. For chewy cookies, bake for less time. The tops will be smooth and shiny.  For crispy cookies, bake longer. The tops will crack and resemble ginger snap cookies. 

Cool for twenty minutes, then enjoy!

©2015 Gina Locke

February 27, 2015

Silence the Words

Silence the Words

Do not put the unspeakable into words
Let the soulless acts of humanity rest with the dead bodies
of those who have committed history's sins
Lest the words come together and whisper
in the ears of the living
And reveal the dark wants of the hearers who are
so easily beguiled by the basest of suggestions
Silence the words so the hand will not heed
the heart when it bends towards the language
Of vile affections that plague the potential
abilities of humankind to reach beyond the common
And scale the heights of expressed kindness and hope
That remains in the ideals of the clear-minded
and longs to be reached for and felt by all
Silence the evil, the fears of failure and loss
The whispers that say we can never attain
victory over the wrongs of the past
Quiet your spirit with the knowledge that words
that need not be spoken yet still can be heard
Do not make up the story of who you can be
Grace not past evil with words
Write you own future history.

©2015 Gina Locke

February 10, 2015

My Heavenly Valentine - Poem

My Heavenly Valentine

While couples around me prepare to celebrate love
I find myself thinking of you up above
Taken too soon from this earthly place
Only in memories do I still feel your embrace
I'll place a red rose over the place where you lay
On this painfully cold, lonely Valentine's Day
I'll warm myself with thoughts of when we first met
And those moments in life that I'll never forget
How you looked pulling your shoes off your feet
Or the smile you'd give when I baked something sweet
The sound of your car in the drive after work
I miss every touch, every sound, every quirk
So while the world stays awake for a day of romance
I'll close my eyes and dream we have one more chance
To wake up together for eggs and toast
And bicker over which yard chore needs done the most
To play together with grandkids a minute more
To hear you walk in again through our creaky front door
Yes, I'll be dreaming of you while you're there up above
Although I can't hold you, I'll still be celebrating our love. 

©2015 Gina Locke

December 8, 2014

Lupus 2014: December - On the Twelfth Month of Lupus

I feel like I should say something deep, intense, and full of wisdom as this year draws to a close.

I have nothing.

As I think about what has happened and what the future may bring, all I can think is "This stinks."

That is all.

November 5, 2014

Lupus 2014: November - Things People Without Lupus Say

I am realizing a repeated theme is going to be frustration. While this blog is about my personal journey, being a caregiver to my child with lupus is going to crop up at times. While her story is hers to tell, it overlaps with mine at times and highlights some of the issues that people face - like what people without lupus say!
These are things I have heard within the last month.

1. "But she doesn't look sick. You think of lupus and you think of hair falling out. She has long healthy hair!" 

No, that's not how this works. Lupus can cause hair loss and some medications exacerbate it, but not everyone with any type and severity of this illness is walking around with extreme hair troubles. However, thanks for the reminder that our hair may start falling out. We like being reminded of every possible thing that can go wrong. 

2. "I  didn't know they had blood tests for lupus." (followed by a doubtful stare)

Well, they don't diagnose it based purely on how your hair looks. Now you know. If you'll only accept the word of medical professionals, why are you asking me how it was diagnosed? Just because you haven't heard of something does not mean it does not exist or hasn't been discovered since the last time you did research on the topic. Oh wait, that's right! You never researched it. That explains why you have the right to show doubt over what I, the person with lupus, just told you. 

3. "Her wearing a hat is against school rules. That's why I told her to leave it off." 

That hat is to help guard her against the harmful effects that fluorescent light and sunlight can have on people with lupus. Long sleeves, clothes washed in sun protectant, hat, and sunglasses all help in the war against inflammation, which can lead to damage to internal organs. I have my own rules. They include teaching others about what can happen if you violate the law concerning the medical needs of children, and do not contact a parent while doing so. I am the mom. In my former life, I was a bear. Sometimes I get easily confused about which life I'm in now. Please don't confuse me. It happens most often when someone does something that makes my child cry. Mkay? 

4. "Don't die." 

Well darn. I was hoping to catch the next semi, right up until you made that demand. By the way, thanks for the reminder. We like being reminded that this could kill us. Or that we might lose our hair. Was there NOTHING between losing hair and death that you could think of? How about "I hope you don't develop a rather mild sensitivity to monk fruit." Why did you have to pick death? Or my hair? I like life. I like my hair. Occasionally I question my love for one or the other, but it passes, okay? 

5. "I have a friend who ate ground up dehydrated squirrel livers and hasn't had any symptoms of illness since." 

Thanks for the info, especially since you later mentioned that your friend wasn't sure it was lupus. Since you asked if I wanted you to dig up your friend's contact information, I can also tell that this is a very close friend that you trust and have a strong relationship with - enough that you feel they have this miracle cure that nobody else has, and they're providing that possibly life saving information for FREE! If you dig up the contact info, of course. I appreciate that. False hope that easily attainable and low cost permanent cures are out there? Just what suffering people need. Aren't you special. 

6. "I heard the steroids for that make you gain weight." 

Umm, YES!  That's what every ounce of this is. I actual like this comment, because it's pretty true.  I have photos of when I was thin. It was right before I started the medication. You can't see them though. They fell down behind a bottle of ground up, dehydrated squirrel livers. DID YOU JUST EAT MY DONUT????? 
On the other hand, if it's not a good day, I'll have to say thanks for the reminder that one of the only things that helps us also makes us fat. Fat, bald, dead - with friends like you, who needs enemies? 

7.  "I don't know if it's just me, but you seem pretty emotional lately." 

Of course it's you. You ate my donut! 

8. "Those open sores in your mouth aren't anything to do with lupus, or they wouldn't hurt. We need to run tests." 

They are open sores inside my mouth. They hurt. They're not anything else. I've already been tested up the ying-yang. Literally. And repeatedly. I associate them with lupus because I only get them during a lupus flare. In fact, it's often my warning sign. That and feeling like I got hit by a truck, and vomiting in my sleep, and peeing blood. But let's focus on the occasional little open sores because THAT must stop.

9. "How can you afford to have lupus?"

Well, what happened was this. I was considering paying for my children's college education. I also wanted a shiny new car. Then I said to myself, maybe a better idea would be lupus. Apparently, I didn't do research properly, because it's a lot more expensive than the label said. Turns out it's not really affordable. Silly me. But thanks for the reminder that I probably can't afford a new hat to cover up my impending hair loss. Thanks.

10. "I know how you feel. I have pollen allergies."

I sympathize. I really do. Such allergies can be intense and miserable.  However, you don't know how I feel. Even people with the same type of lupus cannot truly say they know how the other one feels, though they can often sympathize with some of the same issues. However, everyone handles the diagnosis of a chronic illness in their own way. Even the same chronic illness. That is because we are all individuals, with different ideas, beliefs, goals, emotional responses, pain responses, etc..  

Ah, life with lupus. I'd say we need to do away with such comments, but they really do keep us on our toes and can so easily be used for entertainment purposes. One of these days I'm going to be recording when someone says something ridiculous, then I am going to tie them to a chair and force them to listen to themselves on repeat until they get it.

This is not to say that sincere questions should not be asked. People need to learn more about lupus. Please just use a little courtesy when asking your questions, and don't roll your eyes at us. We may not roll them back. 

Copyright 2014 G. Locke