Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan will continue to be paid, despite being officially suspended from her duties.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court announced its decision to suspend Brennan, effective immediately. However, it did so while keeping her pay and benefits intact. There is little ultimate effect to the decision as Brennan had already been removed from her Livingston County docket last June after the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a complaint against her.

That complaint alleged multiple counts of misconduct related to her dealings with various parties in court, but also her use of court staff for personal tasks and most importantly, her failure to recuse herself from presiding over a murder trial despite having a personal relationship with a State Police detective who was the prosecution’s chief witness. A subsequent hearing on that complaint resulted in the tenure commission recommending she be removed from the bench. Brennan is set to appear before the Michigan Supreme Court next week on that request.

She is also facing felony criminal charges filed by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office alleging she disregarded a court order from her 2017 divorce to preserve her cell phone data and then lied about it under oath. Testimony during the JTC hearing indicated that she feared the data would prove her relationship with the detective and had it erased.

After a retired judge assigned to hear the complaint issued his report on that issue, Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt moved to have the murder convictions against Jerome Kowalski vacated. He is now awaiting a new trial in the 2008 murder of his brother and sister-in-law in their Oceola Township home. (JK)