Judicial commission: Remove Livingston County judge from bench

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission is recommending the state Supreme Court remove a Livingston County judge from the bench, citing misconduct.

Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan

District Judge Theresa Brennan, on the bench since 2005, testified last fall during a hearing before the commission on allegations that she failed to disclose a relationship with a state police officer who was a witness in a trial before her. 

Brennan has been free on bond since December when she was arraigned on charges of perjury and tampering with evidence. The Supreme Court had declined to suspend her pay and benefits after the accusations.

After reviewing hearing transcripts, exhibits and oral arguments, the commission concluded that Brennan failed to disclose relevant facts regarding her relationship with now-retired Michigan State Police Lt. Sean Furlong, who was the officer in charge of investigating a double murder trial went to trial before her in 2013.

The commission also found the Brighton judge failed to disclose her friendship with an attorney who appeared before her. Additionally, she didn't immediately recuse herself from her own divorce case in 2017, tampered with evidence in that case and lied under oath, records show.

The decision released Thursday states Brennan asked a court recorder to help her delete information and her Hotmail account from her cellphone. In its finding, the commission writes her "willingness to give false testimony under oath is 'breathtaking.'"

Brennan is also accused of misconduct by requiring her staff members to perform personal tasks for her during work hours.

"Whatever may be the correct standard of what a judge can properly ask of an employee, Judge Brennan went far beyond it," the recommendation states. "The evidence showed that (Brennan) required her staff to perform personal tasks ... such as taking her car to the dealership, refueling her car, paying her bills, waiting at her house for cable television to be installed and staining the deck of (her) home."

The commission said Brennan should pay $35,570 in costs and expenses.

"The seriousness of the charges is what made removal the recommendation here," Lynn Helland, executive director of the committee, told The Detroit News. "Records showed the misconduct took place over a number of years, which is unusual."

In December, then-Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office charged Brennan with perjury, destroying evidence and misconduct in office. Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel declined a last-minute plea by the attorney who represented Brennan's husband to file additional charges against the judge for concealing her relationship with the state police officer. 

The preliminary examination for Brennan, who faces felony charges, is set for Aug. 25.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_