CHICAGO, Dec. 30, 2015 – Judge Lisa Gorcyca, currently under investigation for her decisions in a controversial custody case in Oakland County, Michigan, is again under scrutiny for sending a woman fighting stage three breast cancer to jail in 2013. Gorcyca sentenced Debra Flowers to five days for a convoluted civil charge, just one of the series of decisions that has left Flowers homeless, penniless and with no access to her son.
Flowers is a divorce litigant whose case is assigned to Gorcyca. On Oct. 17, 2013, just a few days after Flowers underwent radiation treatment, Gorcyca sentenced her to five days in jail after a dispute about an affidavit Flowers wanted to submit.
This was one of five occasions on which Gorcyca sentenced Flowers to time in jail. Gorcyca also essentially confiscated Flowers’ home and refused to give her the equity in the property and has forbidden Flowers to see her son for almost a year.
Gorcyca also jailed Flowers on May 22, 2013, for contempt, Jan. 15, 2015, for contempt, April 22, 2015, for contempt and July 20, 2015, for contempt, according to a matrix provided by her appeals attorney, Star Moffatt.
Flowers’ cancer is now in remission.
“I filed a motion about my ex drinking and was going to attach an affidavit from my neighbor regarding it – she then declined and said no, she didn’t want me to do that or be involved, so I did not submit it. I was jailed (WHILE GOING THRU CHEMO, BALD, BAD IMMUNE SYSTEM, WITHOUT MEDICATIONS) on what I was ‘going’ to do (submit that affidavit, but did not).” Flowers said of the reason she was jailed.
Flowers said Gorcyca also effectively stole her home from underneath her when, despite catching up on past due bills which Gorcyca deemed Flowers owed to her ex-husband’s attorney, Candace Ewing Abbatt, Gorcyca still ruled the home should go into receivership.
Flowers was forcibly removed from her home weeks after it went into receivership. Additionally, all the approximately $100,000 in equity in the home went to pay fees incurred because the home went into receivership.
The most controversial prison sentence came on Jan. 15, 2015.
Flowers admitted to CDN that she had a “couple drinks (of alcohol)” before court because, having lost her home and been jailed twice, she was nervous.
“I’d have a few drinks too,” her appeals attorney Moffatt said.
When opposing counsel surmised she was tipsy, Gorcyca sentenced Flowers to 60 days in prison. She served 45 for violating a previous order that forbade both parties from consuming alcohol, though both are of legal age.
Flowers said the order forbidding both from drinking alcohol was administered after Gorcyca heard unsubstantiated allegations of alcohol problems on both sides.
Since that day, Gorcyca has forbidden Flowers to see her son, who is now 9 years old.
Furthermore, though Flowers has not committed any crime, Gorcyca has ordered that she wear a device around her wrist that monitors her alcohol consumption at all times and reports it electronically to the county. Flowers wears this monitoring device at all times; if she takes it off or drinks any alcohol, she risks jail.
“The court is completely controlling and micro-managing my life. I have had a tether for a year, I have to tell the court and opposing (counsel) of all my income for next 10 years; I have to have a alcohol review every six months for the next 10 years. I’m not allowed to communicate at all with my son or ex-husband or the court!” Flowers said.
The control over Flowers has bordered on the absurd. In one example, opposing counsel skeptically cited this reporters’ book, “Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque Divorce,” after Flowers shared a link to buy the book on Facebook.
“The defendant shared on link on Facebook for a book on Amazon titled ‘Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney’s Kafkaesque Divorce.’ The book is about a man’s perception he is bullied in his divorce in the system. He killed himself.”
In fact, Flowers and Mackney are in many ways kindred spirits: both were forcibly removed from their home during their divorces, left penniless by the costs and fees, kept away from their children for months at a time and jailed repeatedly at the behest of their exes’ counsel for civil contempt matters.
Gorcyca has also been abusive toward Flowers. When Flowers added a note — “in time all will be revealed by Jesus” — to a communication to her ex-husband, Gorcyca responded:
I don’t like what you wrote him. I don’t like that you said, all, and you underlined- that wasn’t about Jesus. That was about you. I also don’t like that you wrote in there, you’re gonna be coming home soon. He is home. He has two homes.
And he may never ever come into your house; I want you to realize the severity of what you have done to yourself. He may never enter your home again if I rule it. That happens in Family Court.
Gorcyca has come under fire for her handling of the Tsimhoni case, after she sentenced three children, who all said they were afraid of their father, to juvenile hall after they wouldn’t have lunch with him.
Recently, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint that may lead to Gorcyca’s removal from the bench. On Monday she disqualified herself from the case ruling the complaint against her created the appearance of impropriety.
CDN has previously reported on the Tsimhoni case, including the plethora of evidence that the father was an abuser, that the reunification “therapist” was a high school graduate, and that most recently a therapist was threatening to split the children.
Flowers is again in Gorcyca’s sights and may face more jail time. Gorcyca decided that when Flowers left a letter off of a street address, it was tantamount to forgery. Flowers will fact Gorcyca regarding that issue on Jan. 12, 2016.
Moffatt has filed an appeal on behalf of Flowers arguing that Gorcyca’s behavior toward her violated her Fourth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights.
A phone call to Judge Gorcyca’s chambers was left unreturned. A message to Abbatt’s office was also left unreturned. An email to Judge Gorcyca’s lawyer, Tom Cranmer, was also left unreturned.