CHICAGO, January 27, 2016 — A Michigan mom says Oakland County Family Court has effectively removed her from her son’s life because she presented evidence of abuse.
Lillian Song has been involved in custody matters for more than five years in Oakland County. Her case is in the same county as the controversial Tsimhoni case; the guardian ad litem on her case, Keri Middleditch, is currently the attorney for Omer Tsimhoni, the father in that notorious case.
Song said her divorce started in December 2012 and was completed in October 2013. During that time, she received a personal protection order (PPO) regarding her ex-husband, and that PPO was approved or extended by five different judges.
According to a police report, one incident of domestic violence occurred on June 19, 2013. The report states:
“With the phone in (his) hand, (he) began striking Song across the face. Song advised that (he) continued striking her with (his) hand and the phone for about five to ten minutes constantly making childish taunts.”
The officer taking the report said there was “minor bruising under Song’s left eye.”
The Farmington Hills Police Department, which investigated the case, told CDN that the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office declined to press charges while the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office said no file was submitted for consideration.
Neither entity provided an explanation about why Song’s ex-husband was not arrested. Song initially received an order of protection on June 23, 2013, following this incident.
Song’s ex-husband has been represented for much of the divorce by Emily Long, a criminal attorney. Her website claims, “Criminal defense is all we do, and we do it right.”
Long was an Assistant Prosecutor in the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office from 2006-2009, according to her profile on Avvo.
Though the divorce was finalized in 2014 and the judge granted shared custody, Middleditch was named GAL in post-divorce because a psychiatrist assigned to case thought a GAL should be appointed due to the abuse. Middleditch was assigned to the case in September 2013 but didn’t start any work until after the divorce was finalized.
Song said her problems began when she noticed bruising on her son after he came home from spending time with his father.
Child Protective Services has investigated Song’s ex-husband on two occasions, Song told CDN, based on anonymous complaints he was abusing his son. On at least one occasion, Middleditch inserted herself into the investigation.
Song said that a CPS employee told her that Middleditch told a CPS investigator, “This has nothing to do with dad’s abuse and the mom is unstable.”
Song said her parenting time was suspended after Middleditch informed the court that she had been taking photos of her son’s bruises after he came home from visits with his father.
At a February 20, 2015, hearing, Long told the court,
“I remember specifically asking this because I was so concerned about the content of the photographs was how long have these photographs been going on … And Ms. Song’s testimony was that she was photographing the rectal and anal region of the minor child in question when he was received from the father’s care and then, when he was again, delivered to the father’s care.”
Later in the hearing, Middleditch, who stated that Song didn’t make her aware of any problems and that she hadn’t seen the photos, said,
“I frankly think that if these pictures are as described by both attorneys, have been taken as often as they suggest, certainly even after dinner, which is absurd to me, I find that the actual action is abusive.”
The photos, according to Song’s attorney Vincent Giovanni when questioning Middleditch, were of “severe rashes of the child’s bottom, which she testified occurred at the time he arrived from parenting time with his father.”
Giovanni also stated, during his questioning of Middleditch, that the photos were taken along with seeking proper medical treatment. Giovanni didn’t respond to an email for comment.
Middleditch, like Bill Lansat—the GAL in the Tsimhoni case—is a divorce attorney who is assigned cases to be a GAL. Her training and expertise in matters of domestic abuse are unknown.
The judge, Lisa Langton, refused to allow for the photos to be entered into the court record at that hearing. She said, “I am not going to allow these pictures to be made a part of the record. I don’t want any additional copies made of these pictures. I would prefer that these pictures be only in possession of counsel at this point.”
A phone message left with Judge Langton’s chambers was not returned.
Middleditch recommended that Song’s parenting time be suspended as a result of taking these pictures. The judge agreed, and since that court hearing, Song has only been allowed to see her son in supervised visits, which cost her $35 per hour.
On November 24, 2015, Song sent Middleditch an email in which she alleged seventeen violations of GAL protocol by Middleditch. These alleged violations include:
“3) Reviewing all updated material as provided to the court and parties. – None of the GAL bills list any such activities for the case involving Joshua and his perspective families.
“9) Filing all necessary pleadings and papers. The reports you were to develop and the work product that substantiated your finding and ex-parte discussion were never based on a foundation of facts and clearly violate Judicial process and the GAL standards and
“10) Consistent with the law governing attorney-client privilege, informing the court of the child’s wishes and preferences.” – The child’s best wishes and interest were never documented and were only spoken to the judge on behalf of the child based on ex-parte off record conversations.”
Middleditch formally removed herself from the case on January 7, 2016. Middleditch didn’t respond to an email for comment.