Message from Senator Hune on Judge Theresa Brennan

Message from Senator Hune on Judge Theresa Brennan
This week I wanted to send an update to the constituents of the 22nd district on what has transpired with controversial judge Theresa Brennan.

Many of you have expressed deep concerns about her integrity as a judge and have shared with me truly saddening and frustrating stories about how her unprofessionalism has impacted your lives. Your concerns have not fallen on deaf ears; below is a timeline of my response to Judge Brennan’s actions and how the situation has evolved over time.

I will see this issue through to the end, and rest assured breaches of justice like this will not go ignored.

June 5: Hune sends letter to Judge Brennan requesting her resignation
The June 5 letter to Judge Brennan is copied below:

Dear Judge Brennan,

I am respectfully requesting that you resign immediately. The people of Livingston County deserve better. Your antics in recent years have resulted in outrage by the citizens that we serve.

Michigan’s code of conduct for judges requires you to forgo even the appearance of impropriety in all activities. Your relationship with Detective Furlong and your refusal to recuse yourself from a trial involving Mr. Furlong indicates a beach of the code of conduct.

Your conduct on the bench is equally concerning. People’s lives hang in the balance in your courtroom and it appears you treat them unfairly. This misconduct in office required your recent removal from a divorce proceeding in your courtroom.

The people of Livingston County have suffered enough. Please resign.

Sincerely,

Senator Joe Hune

June 11: Hune joined by Reps. Vaupel and Theis calling for Judge Brennan to step down
The June 11 press release is copied below:

State Reps. Hank Vaupel and Lana Theis, who represent areas of Livingston County in the Michigan House, today jointly announced the need for District Court Judge Theresa Brennan to resign.

“A resignation is necessary to maintain confidence in the judicial system in Livingston County,” said Vaupel, of Fowlerville. “Ongoing issues have long put in doubt Judge Brennan’s ability to serve in this capacity and continue to uphold the public’s trust. I am one of those citizens with a high level of doubt, and I sincerely hope the judge does the right thing and steps down.”

Brennan is under investigation through the Judicial Tenure Commission in the wake of an affair with a Michigan State Police detective assigned to a lead position for a 2013 murder case eventually heard in Brennan’s courtroom.

Brennan had maintained the affair with 1st Lt. Sean Furlong took place after the murder trial. Phone records later showed the two spoke on the phone nearly 40 times between the start of the trial and sentencing. As a result, missteps levied against Brennan include misrepresenting the details of that conflict while being questioned, violating professional standards becoming of a judge, egregious misconduct from the bench and misappropriating public resources for personal gain.

“This was a gross violation of judicial ethics,” said Theis, of Brighton. “Judge Brennan should have already stepped down of her own volition, but to have her on the bench over a long, lingering process waiting for federal lawsuits and calls for a grand jury investigation is harmful to the residents who have to deal with her courtroom.

My office consistently receives calls from residents voicing their displeasure with Judge Brennan and asking what, if anything, can be done to stop her erratic and irresponsible behavior. This is not what the people of Livingston County deserve from their elected judges and the justice system.”

If the Judicial Tenure Commission’s investigation reveals wrongdoing by Brennan, a recommendation for sanctions will be made to the Michigan Supreme Court. The court then would decide on a penalty, which could include censure, suspension or removal from office.

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June 12: Judicial Tenure Commission files formal complaint against Judge Brennan
Full complaint from the Judicial Tenure Commission can be found here.
The June 13 press release is copied below:

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Fowlerville, supported the decision of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission to file a formal complaint against Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan.

“I’m glad the commission was finally able to do its duty and file a formal complaint against Judge Brennan,” said Hune. “My office has been flooded with heartbreaking and infuriating stories from constituents who have been wronged by this person. It’s comforting to know that justice is still in the justice system, and hopefully this means that Brennan won’t be harming people anymore from her position of power.”

The commission filed a formal complaint against Brennan Tuesday for 11 separate violations including failure to disclose, improper demeanor and providing misrepresentations under investigation. The complaint also showed that Brennen failed to act in a conduct and manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Her behavior demonstrated a pattern counter to the precept that the judicial system is for the benefit of the litigant and the public, and not the judiciary.

The Judicial Tenure Commission’s complaint will now go to the Michigan Supreme Court which will decide on the ultimate penalties for Brennan’s actions.

“These are serious and embarrassing violations,” said Hune. “Again, I urge Judge Brennan to do the right thing and resign before this debacle continues on any further.”

June 13: Judge Brennan’s caseload removed
The June 13 WHMI article is copied below:

53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan’s caseload has been removed and re-assigned after deliberations between local judges and the filing of a formal complaint by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

Chief Judge of Livingston County Courts Miriam Cavanaugh says she has discussed the issue and content of the formal complaint filed against Brennan with other local judges. Brennan is under investigation for misconduct in office at multiple levels as well as lying about an affair with a MSP detective in a 2013 double murder trial. Those convictions are currently under review. Cavanaugh says they recognize Brennan is entitled to due process of law and a hearing on the allegations against her, but notes judges are held to a higher standard of conduct so that the integrity and independence of their judiciary may be preserved. Further, Judge Cavanaugh says the citizens of Livingston County deserve to know that their elected judges are beyond reproach in the performance of their duties. Accordingly, and in deliberation with other judges, she says it was decided to remove and re-assign Brennan’s caseload effective immediately and until further notice.

As Chief Judge, Cavanaugh says she speaks for the entire judiciary in saying they value the trust and confidence citizens of Livingston County have vested in them. She assures residents they will continue to carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices and afford all litigants and attorneys the professional, timely, impartial and independent administration of justice that they deserve.

June 14: Hune and Reps. Theis and Vaupel petition JTC calling for Brennan’s suspension
The June 14 press release on the letter can be found here.
The June 14 letter to the Judicial Tenure Commission is copied below:
Dear Judicial Tenure Commission Members,

As state legislators representing the good people of Livingston County, part of our duty is to represent our constituents in matters they are unable to control. This is one of those matters. It has become abundantly clear that a miscarriage of justice is occurring in our county.

The people we represent are begging for assistance as their lives are forever altered going before 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan in the courtroom. The stories that have been shared are so disgusting and concerning that it requires those of us with the ability to do something to act immediately.

Thank you for issuing Formal Complaint No. 99 against Judge Brennan. It sets in motion a process of removal should she fail to resign. We respectfully request that you carry out your authority and request that the Supreme Court remove Judge Brennan immediately. Under Michigan Court Rule 9.219, please request that the Supreme Court suspend Judge Brennan in the interim before final adjudication of this complaint is settled. We believe this is an extraordinary circumstance that warrants immediate suspension.

Thank you for your work on this matter. It is of grave importance to the people we represent. Please act with all due haste and assist the people of Livingston County. They deserve better.

Sincerely,
Senator Joe Hune   Representative Lana Theis   Representative Hank Vaupel

 

Hune bill requiring drug testing for welfare recipients heads to governor

For Immediate Release
Dec. 10, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
(517) 373-2420

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to help ensure public assistance is going to the most needy recipients, not criminals or drug abusers.

In 1996, the federal government enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Since then, TANF has continuously been abused by those looking to take advantage of the care and support of others, most specifically drug abusers.

Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune, will amend the Social Welfare Act to require the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish and administer a pilot program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program (FIP) applicants and recipients.

“This common-sense reform will ensure that only the neediest and law-abiding citizens receive aid in the form of our hard-earned tax dollars,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “I am very pleased my colleagues have passed this measure and I look forward to the governor’s approval.”

The measure requires the DHS to refer an applicant or recipient to department-designated community mental health entities if it were the first time the individual tested positive for illegal use of a controlled substance.

The DHS would have to terminate FIP assistance for individuals who either failed to participate in treatment offered by Community mental health entities, failed to test negative a second or subsequent time, or failed to submit to required periodic substance abuse testing.

SB 275, tie-barred to House Bill 4118, will be presented to Gov. Snyder for his approval shortly.

 

Hune ‘chargemaster’ bill passes Senate committee

For Immediate Release
Oct. 22, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
517-373-2420

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Joe Hune announced Wednesday that a measure to expose the true cost of medicine to consumers passed the Senate Health Policy Committee.

Senate Bill 627, sponsored by Hune, R-Hamburg, would require a hospital that used a charge description master (CDM), sometimes known as a chargemaster, to make it available on the hospital's website or at the hospital location, as applicable.

“I am happy to see my legislation pass out of the Senate Health Policy Committee. However, I am even happier for the consumers of Michigan. We are on our way to improving transparency in medical billing practices and saving Michiganders money.”

Many times in medical facilities around the state medical bills are as much as tripled for some items used. According to one hospital’s report, it spent $27.5 million for laboratory work during calendar year 2010, yet it charged $293.2 million for that same work. Hospitals are charging patients with bills that bear little to no relation to the actual cost of the health care.

The CDM is a price list for products and care that a hospital keeps. The CDM is currently not available for patients’ review, leaving the true price of medicine ambiguous to patients.

The measure would require a hospital that used a CDM to make it available by posting an electronic copy on the hospital’s website. If the hospital has no website, it would have to make a written or electronic copy available at the hospital location.

SB 627 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

 

Senator Hune Honored as Outstanding 4-H Alumnus

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Joe Hune was among eleven 4-H alumni inducted into the Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society on Oct. 3.          

The Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society honors former Michigan 4-H members whose professional leadership and community service reflect the ultimate outcome of 4-H membership – extraordinary use of an individual’s head, heart, hands and health to make communities, the country and the world better places in which to live. This recognition is provided by Michigan 4-H Youth Development with support from the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

“I give credit to 4-H for a lot of who I am today,” said Senator Hune about his induction into the Michigan 4-H Emerald Clover Society.  “It helped instill responsibility, hard work and leadership skills in me at a young age and I would not have changed my experience for anything!”

Also inducted into the 4-H Emerald Clover Society Class of 2014 were: Jamie Clover Adams, of Lansing; Kelly Boles Chapman, of Bellevue; Sen. Judy K. Emmons, Sheridan; Betsy McPherson Knox, East Lansing; Harmony L. Nowlin, Alma; Matthew T. Shane, Manchester; Douglas A. Sprik, Hamilton; Doris Stuever, Lynn; Susan L. Safford Traubenkraut, Frankenmuth; and Karen L. Waite, Mason.   

The 4-H Emerald Clover Society induction took place Fri., Oct. 3 during the 4-H Town and Country Gala at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

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Hune saves state money and practices fiscal constraint

For Immediate Release
Oct 3, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
517-373-2420

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Joe Hune announced Friday that he has given back the remainder of his office budget for 2014 to the State.

Each senate office is allotted a budget for payroll, supplies and other such expenses to operate by. Senators are not required to use these funds, and Hune has opted to give a total of $11,532 back in order to alleviate some fiscal stress.

In addition, Hune returned $250 to the State from each of the committees he serves on.

Hune’s return of his office allotment is a lesson in fiscal conservancy, he says.

“This will serve as an example of cutting back in times of economic hardship,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “Michigan is on its way back to prosperity, but we are not there just yet. Making necessary cuts in spending, starting with myself, is how I do my part in helping Michigan’s future.”

Hune has given back the remainder of his office budget to the State each year he has been in elected office.

 

Hune hunting updates and literature available on website

For Immediate Release
Oct. 3, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
517-373-2420

LANSING, Mich.—To usher in the 2014 hunting season, Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg, announced Friday that he has several resources for hunters and fishing enthusiasts on his senate website.

The 2014 Michigan Hunting Update can be found on the homepage of Hune’s website and informs the public about new laws to deter poachers, license news and deer and turkey hunting information.

Along with many legislative updates and news from Lansing, Hune’s website includes guides to hunting, fishing and licensing requirements.

Under the Customer Service tab, click on “Hunting/Fishing Information” and you will be able to choose between several pieces of informational literature including the “Pure MI Hunt” program by the Dept. of Natural Resources, as well as fishing license information and season dates and bag limits.

If you have any questions, Sen. Hune encourages the public to contact his office at SenJHune@senate.michigan.gov or dial toll-free at 855-JOE-HUNE.

 

Hune bill addressing commercial vehicle registration sent to governor

For Immediate Release
Sept. 24, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
517-373-2420

LANSING, Mich.—A measure to eliminate a requirement that commercial vehicles must display the owner’s name on the cab was sent to Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 277, sponsored by Sen. Joe Hune, eliminates a requirement that commercial vehicles weighing more than 5,000 pounds must display the owner’s name on the cab. Wrecker trucks and road service vehicles would still be subject to the mandate.

“This common-sense reform will decrease government bureaucracy while making Michigan even more open to business,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “I am happy to see that this bill was supported so broadly in both the Senate and House and look forward to a speedy signature by the governor.”

Introduced in March 2013, the measure passed the Michigan Senate 38-0 in October of last year.

The measure was passed Tuesday by the Michigan House of Representatives by a vote of 101-7.

 

House committee passes Hune bill placing those who solicit minors on sex offender registry

For Immediate Release
Sept. 10, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
(517) 373-2420

LANSING, Mich. — On Wednesday the Michigan House of Representatives’ Criminal Justice Committee passed a bill to place anyone trafficking a minor for sex on the sex offender registry as a Tier II offender, said state Sen. Joe Hune.

Senate Bill 602 also makes soliciting a person under 18 for prostitution a Tier I sexual offense requiring registration as a sex offender, and it makes the crime of soliciting a person for prostitution gender neutral.

“Those who solicit a minor are the vilest of criminals, and it’s about time we start treating them as such,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “These criminals are nothing short of sex offenders and should be classified that way.”

SB 602 and companion bill SB 206 are tie-barred to SB 205. SB 205 would make it a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 to solicit, accost, or invite – by the payment in money or other forms of consideration – another person who is less than 18 years of age and who is not his or her spouse to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.

The measure now moves to the full House for further consideration.

 

House passes Hune bill placing those who solicit minors on sex offender registry

For Immediate Release
Sept. 10, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
(517) 373-2420

LANSING, Mich. — On Wednesday the Michigan House of Representatives’ Criminal Justice Committee passed a bill to place anyone trafficking a minor for sex on the sex offender registry as a Tier II offender, said state Sen. Joe Hune.

Senate Bill 602 also makes soliciting a person under 18 for prostitution a Tier I sexual offense requiring registration as a sex offender, and it makes the crime of soliciting a person for prostitution gender neutral.

“Those who solicit a minor are the vilest of criminals, and it’s about time we start treating them as such,” said Hune, R-Hamburg. “These criminals are nothing short of sex offenders and should be classified that way.”

SB 602 and companion bill SB 206 are tie-barred to SB 205. SB 205 would make it a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 to solicit, accost, or invite – by the payment in money or other forms of consideration – another person who is less than 18 years of age and who is not his or her spouse to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.

The measure now moves to the full House for further consideration.

 

House committee passes Hune bill requiring drug testing for welfare recipients

For Immediate Release
Sept. 10, 2014

Contact: Troy Tuggle
(517) 373-2420

LANSING, Mich. — On Wednesday the Michigan House of Representatives’ Families, Seniors and Children Committee passed a bill to help ensure public assistance is going to the most needy recipients, not criminals or drug abusers.

In 1996, the federal government enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Since then, TANF has continuously been abused by those looking to take advantage of the care and support of others, most specifically drug abusers.

Senate Bill 275 would amend the Social Welfare Act to require the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish and administer a pilot program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program (FIP) applicants and recipients.

“This common-sense reform will ensure that only the neediest and law-abiding citizens receive aid in the form of our hard-earned tax dollars,” Hune said. “I am pleased by the support the legislation received from the House of Representatives.”

The measure would require the DHS to refer an applicant or recipient to department-designated community mental health entities if it were the first time the individual tested positive for illegal use of a controlled substance.

The costs of administering the test would have to be deducted from the applicant’s or recipient’s FIP payment. The DHS would have to terminate FIP assistance for individuals who either failed to participate in treatment offered by Community mental health entities, failed to test negative a second or subsequent time, or failed submit to required periodic substance abuse testing.

SB 275 is tie-barred to House Bill 4118, and both bills are awaiting consideration by the full House.