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.
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.
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.
Senator Joe Hune Representative Lana Theis Representative Hank Vaupel