High court suspends Livingston County judge, continues her $143K salary

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan

The Michigan Supreme Court suspended a Livingston County district court judge Wednesday, but ruled the judge will continue to receive full pay and benefits.

The Judicial Tenure Commission in early February asked the Supreme Court to suspend Judge Teresa Brennan and to hold her pay in escrow “for the proper administration of justice.”

“The public’s confidence in the judiciary is eroded when a judge continues to enjoy the perquisites of her office after having admitted to engaging in felonious conduct,” the commission wrote.

But the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, with little explanation, that the judge could keep her $143,844 annual salary during her suspension.

The high court rejected a similar request from the commission in late January because the request was made by the commission’s deputy executive director instead of the commission itself.

Brennan has been the subject of an investigation and state ethics proceedings related to allegations that she had a close relationship with a Michigan State Police investigator who was a key witness in a murder case over which the judge presided.

The commission has said Brennan committed judicial misconduct when she failed to disclose the relationship with State Police Detective Sean Furlong during the 2013 murder trial of Jerome Kowalski. Prosecutors plan to retry Kowalski because of the scandal.

She also was charged last year with perjury and tampering with evidence by the Attorney General’s office because of statements and actions tied to her 2016 divorce proceedings.

A Livingston County circuit judge barred Brennan from hearing cases in June, but she continues to receive $143,844 annually.

The commission cited its 17-month investigation and 2-week hearing regarding the allegations against Brennan in its petition asking the Supreme Court to suspend her pay. The commission alleged Brennan tampered with evidence, perjured herself, and failed to immediately recuse herself as the judge for her own divorce proceeding.

“In order to maintain the public perception of fairness in the courts and in order to maintain the integrity of the judicial system, respondent must be suspended pending final resolution of this matter,” the commissions request said.


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