Twitter Gets Dragged Into Ugly Custody Battle

Aug 5, 2015

Social media giant Twitter is being dragged into a controversial child custody case, Crime Magazine has learned

On July 30, 2015, Michigan lawyer Keri Middleditch sent a subpoena to Twitter’s legal offices demanding personal information -- name, address, email, telephone number, etc. -- for the owner of the account @JusticeTsimhoni.

Attorney Middleditch represents Omer Tsimhoni in his contentious custody battle with ex-wife Maya Tsimhoni, which made international headlines after the Judge, Lisa Gorcyca, jailed their three kids in juvenile hall for refusing to lunch with their father.

Crime Magazine spoke exclusively with the owner of the twitter account, Shawna Shakespeare, a mother of two from Missouri with no direct link to the case and who views the subpoena as legal bullying and an assault on her civil liberties.

“This is an attack on our first amendment,” Shakespeare said, and “I have the facts and documents to back me up that we got from the Oakland County Courthouse.”

Shakespeare first became aware of the bitter custody feud when it received national attention in July, but has since become an administrator on two Facebook groups following the case and the Twitter feed that’s now subject of a wide-sweeping search demand.

She has also been one of several people ordering documents from the Oakland County Court and publishing them to Facebook groups and on #Twitter.

According to the subpoena, one of those documents, a February 2015 Child Protective Services report, was released inappropriately and its release “violates privacy rights.”

But Shakespeare said that she received all her documents, including the CPS report, legally and properly and, if she wasn’t supposed to get them, that’s an issue for the court clerk’s office.

Since July 22nd, the case has been sealed, more or less stemming info leaks, but Shakespeare also pointed out that the recent gag order only applied to the mother; something she sees as part of a campaign to stop any information detrimental to the court or the petitioning father.

In July, Judge Lisa Gorcyca took the unusual step of sentencing the three young Tsimhoni children to years of juvenile detention for not going to lunch with their father.

Gorcyca, along with the guardian ad litem in the case, William Lansat, argued the father was victim of parental alienation, while the children said they wouldn’t meet with him because he hit their mother.

Shakespeare believes there’s nothing wrong with the documents concerning the dispute over their custody having been released, except, perhaps, that these may back up the children’s assertions regarding abuse, and, if so, that this would then explain the legal bullying she's experiencing now.

Twitter is a popular platform for socially-minded users like Shawna Shakespeare so it’s not clear if it will choose to protect her privacy rights now, or not. Emails and phone calls to company representatives were left unreturned.

Attorneys Middleditch and Lansat also didn’t answer requests from Crime Magazine for a response, although Near Perfect PR, the firm which represents Maya Tsimhoni and her counsel, said that, because of the new gag order, they couldn’t comment either.

Michael Volpe

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