Judge freed on bond on perjury, tampering charges

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Judge Theresa Brennan leaves 53d District Court in Howell Tuesday after being arraigned on charges of perjury and tampering with evidence,  via video with Judge David Guinn in 67th District Court in Flint.

Howell — A Livingston County district judge was formally charged Tuesday with perjury and two other felony offenses and given a $30,000 personal recognizance bond pending a hearing on the offenses.

 Judge Theresa Marie Brennan of 53rd District Court and her attorney avoided reporters following the brief video conference held in her former courtroom with Flint District Court Judge David Guinn. All Howell district judges have had to recuse themselves from hearing the case.

Guinn scheduled a probable cause hearing for Jan. 16.

Allegations against Brennan surfaced during her 2017 divorce case after reports she had failed to disclose a personal relationship she had with the lead detective in a murder case.  That relationship surfaced in depositions in her divorce case. She is charged with perjury, destroying evidence and misconduct in office.

Brennan, who served as president of the Michigan District Judges Association earlier this year, is also the subject of a Judicial Tenure Commission probe involving allegations of misconduct in office, using her office for personal gain, failing to maintain high standards of conduct to be “patient, dignified and courteous” to lawyers.

She also is accused of not following the law, allowing social and other relationships to influence her conduct and using her judgeship to further her personal business interests.

Retired Wayne County Circuit Judge William Giovan, who heard the tenure commission complaints, will ultimately report his findings to the panel, which may use them in recommendations for discipline to the Michigan Supreme Court. Actions can range from censure to removal, retirement or suspension from office.

One state lawmaker who has been monitoring Brennan’s case, including in court on Tuesday, said she should resign immediately. 

“This is a travesty,” said state Sen. Joseph Hune, R-Fowlerville. “There is a man who has been in jail for 11 years because of her and she is out being paid $600 a day in salary and benefits. It’s not right.”

Hune referred to the murder conviction of Jerome Kowalski in the 2008 slayings of his brother and sister-in-law.  During  Brennan’s divorce, it surfaced that she had been dating the lead detective in the case, something she never disclosed. Kowalski is serving a life sentence in the deaths.

Jared Kowalski, the convicted man’s son, was in the courtroom Tuesday.

“We try to remain optimistic and we believe her being charged now is a step closer to my father getting a new trial,” Kowalski said.


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