Attorney General To Review MSP Investigation Into Judge Brennan
July 3, 2018
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that he will review the Michigan State Police investigation into 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan.
Schuette today informed Michigan State Police that at the end of their investigation into allegations of impropriety by Judge Brennan, his Criminal Division will review the evidence to determine if there were criminal wrongdoings by the judge. Spokesperson Andrea Bitley says Michigan State Police has an open and ongoing investigation, which started in January of this year. Schuette has provided support through search warrants. When that’s complete, the information will come directly to Attorney General Schuette. Bitley tells WHMI upon review of the investigation, if there are criminal wrong doings, then they will determine what potential charges are available and move forward from there.
Bitely says they wanted to make sure there is no delay or question about the end of the investigation. Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt has recused himself because he is in direct contact with Judge Brennan on many open cases locally. Therefore, she says it would be inappropriate for him to be charging and investigating a sitting judge in his county, which could potentially affect cases down the road for him. Bitely says the department of attorney general has stepped in and will be taking the case from Michigan State Police upon completion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission has extended the deadline for Brennan to respond to a formal complaint against her. The complaint filed last month against Brennan alleges various counts involving what the commission called, “a pattern of improper conduct” regarding her failure to disclose various personal relationships and disqualify herself in several key cases. The complaint was filed June 12th and required Brennan to offer a written response to the allegations within two weeks. However, the JTC has extended that deadline indefinitely. Lynn Helland, the JTC’s Executive Director, tells WHMI that while he was not at liberty to say why the deadline had been extended, there was, “nothing unusual in this.”
The heart of the complaint alleges that Brennan did not disclose the full extent and nature of her relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Sean Furlong during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which she presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Furlong was the chief prosecution witness as he took Kowalski’s confession, which has since been disputed as coerced. While Brennan and Furlong admit an affair, they claim it began after the trial. However, testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce seemingly dispute that and indicate it began long before the trial. The JTC has requested that the Michigan Supreme Court appoint a master in relation to the formal proceeding. A hearing won’t be set until after the judge’s response to the allegations is filed. (JM)