Livingston Co. judge grilled on treatment of employees

Detroit News staff and wire reports
Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan reads a transcript as she gives testimony during her judicial misconduct proceeding in the courtroom of Judge William Giovan, Monday in Livonia.

Livonia -- A Livingston County judge facing misconduct allegations testified for a second day Tuesday, this time about how she treated court employees and lawyers.

The ethics case against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan could lead to her removal from office. Brennan is accused of failing to disclose a relationship with a state police officer during a murder trial. She’s also accused of using staff to perform personal tasks for her on county time.

On Tuesday, the judge's former court reporter, Kristi Cox, testified she  took a pay cut to stop working for Brennan. The judge had referred to her as “brain-damaged.” Asked about the remark Tuesday, Brennan said Cox returned from a vacation and was “acting strangely.” She doesn’t believe she treated Cox terribly.

On Monday, Brennan testified about her close friendship with Michigan State Police Lt. Sergeant Sean Furlong, who was a key witness in a murder trial the judge presided over in 2013.

Brennan said prosecutors knew about her friendship with Furlong and that she believed that the attorney for the defendant in the case, Jerome Kowalski, also knew she had a close relationship with the State Police investigator.

 "I didn't think I had to disclose details about friendships ... friends who go before me," Brennan testified Monday on the first day of the hearing before the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

The judicial misconduct proceedings, expected to last up to two weeks, are being held in 16th District Court in Livonia and presided over by retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge William Giovan, the master hired by the commission for Brennan's proceedings. 

Last week, three state lawmakers introduced articles of impeachment against Brennan.