Lawmakers file impeachment articles against Livingston County judge

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan

Lansing — Three state lawmakers introduced articles of impeachment Wednesday against Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan.

The resolution filed by Republican Reps. Lana Theis, Hank Vaupel and Jim Runestad called for Brennan’s impeachment based on alleged “corrupt conduct in office and for crimes and misdemeanors.”

The lengthy House resolution cited Brennan’s alleged false statements during depositions, disregard for court rules, a threat and order to place an attorney in lockup, and failure to disclose personal relationships with individuals involved in cases over which she presided.

“The troubling pattern of improper conduct exhibited by Judge Brennan has resulted in her losing the trust and confidence of her colleagues and the public,” Theis said in a statement. “The people of Livingston County deserve better. If she won’t resign, it’s time for the House to move forward with the impeachment process.”

A call to Brennan's lawyer, Dennis Kolenda, was not returned. 

The impeachment resolution comes as Brennan faces inquiries from the Judicial Tenure Commission, an investigation by the Michigan State Police and Attorney General, and calls for a grand jury investigation by Livingston County Circuit Judge Daniel Burress.

The House resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Should the resolution pass the House by a majority vote, three House members would be chosen to prosecute the impeachment trial before the state Senate, which has the power to remove her.

The Senate trial would start in December, as soon as the House is adjourned.

The furor surrounding Brennan started in 2017 when deposition transcripts from divorce proceedings between Brennan and her ex-husband revealed she had an affair with Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong during a murder trial in which he was a witness and she the judge.

Brennan and Furlong have insisted the affair started after the trial of Jerome Walter Kowalski, who was convicted in the 2008 murders of his brother and sister-in-law.

The house resolution said Brennan failed to disclose her relationship with Furlong, then concealed relevant facts and made false or misleading statements about the relationship, “preventing counsel from adequately pursuing a disqualification period.”

The resolution also cites seven other cases in which Brennan failed to disclose a close friendship with a person involved in the lawsuit. The judge is also accused of failing to disqualify herself in a timely manner when assigned her own divorce case in 2016.

“Judge Brennan’s conduct in these cases demonstrates, at best, a pattern of blatant disregard for court rules and judicial ethics, and at worst, concerted efforts to aid particular litigants based on her personal relationships,” the resolution says.

When a lawyer asked Brennan to comply with legally required time allowances in a paternity case, “she threatened to place the attorney in lockup, and ordered that she be placed in lockup when the attorney continued to make her case,” the resolution said.

In another case, Brennan did not allow a witness to testify by telephone because she claimed the court was unable to accommodate telephonic testimony.

“As a result, the defendant in the case incurred the unnecessary expense of traveling from Florida to Michigan,” the complaint said.

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