Hearing Set On Motion To Disqualify Outside Judge In Brennan Petition
September 10, 2018
A hearing has been set to hear a motion to disqualify an out-of-county judge to hear a request for a grand jury to investigate alleged misdeeds by Judge Theresa Brennan.
Court records show that a September 21st hearing is set to hear the motion, filed by former 44th Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress. He had requested a grand jury look into issues surrounding Brennan’s admitted relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, the chief prosecution witness in a 2013 double-murder trial that she presided over and resulted in the conviction and life sentence of Jerome Kowalski. Those actions are currently the subject of a State Police criminal investigation and Judicial Tenure Commission complaint.
Livingston County Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh asked the State Court Administrative Office in June to assign a judge from another county to hear the grand jury request, saying rulings from Circuit Court Judge David Reader were improper once he recused himself from hearing the case. The case was then assigned to Eaton County Circuit Judge John Maurer, who will preside over the September 21st hearing to decide if he should be disqualified from hearing the case. Burress has characterized the entire process as “judge shopping at the highest level “and last month filed a motion to disqualify Maurer saying he has no jurisdiction to hear the case because Judge Cavanaugh’s decision to move it out of the county violated an administrative order that she herself signed just days before. That order stipulated that once a judge disqualified themselves from hearing a case, all other available local judges should be given an opportunity to take the case. Officials with the State Court Administrative Office insist that all rules and procedures are being followed.
The chief reason cited by Judge Cavanaugh in her decision to send the case out of the county was Judge Reader’s appointment of Howell Attorney Tom Kizer as Special Prosecutor for the grand jury, noting that Kizer was a long-time critic of Judge Brennan and had served as the attorney for Brennan’s ex-husband in their 2017 divorce. (JK)