Livingston County has filed a lawsuit against embattled 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan.

County Administrator Ken Hinton says the civil lawsuit was filed Friday and that the county is suing Brennan in her individual capacity rather than as an elected official. The county is seeking in excess of $25,000 to compensate for wages that Brennan allegedly misused, saying she abused her authority for personal gain. The lawsuit claims Brennan had employees under her supervision perform personal tasks for her during working hours and that the employees' reported time worked was paid for by taxpayer funding.

Brennan’s former law clerk, Jessica Yakel, previously testified that she routinely performed the services of a personal assistant while on county time, including paying the judge’s bills, having her vehicle serviced, fixing her television set and even staining her deck.

The filing comes just days before the deadline for Brennan to respond to an amended complaint filed against her by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. The charges in the complaint allege Brennan made false statements concerning work employees did for her judicial campaign, as well as improper demeanor toward an attorney. Brennan is required to respond to the complaint by tomorrow.

The initial complaint filed by the Commission stems from Brennan’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong. He served as the chief prosecution witness during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which Brennan presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Brennan and Furlong admit to an affair but claim it began after the trial. Testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial.

Brennan has since had her local caseload removed and re-assigned, but technically remains on the bench. She is also the subject of a separate criminal investigation by Michigan State Police. (DK)