A retired judge has filed a motion to disqualify an out-of-county judge to hear his request for a grand jury to investigate alleged misdeeds by Judge Theresa Brennan.

Former 44th Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress 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. Buress has characterized the entire process as “judge shopping at the highest level “and on Thursday 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.

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.

While the Judicial Tenure Commission complaint could remove Brennan from the bench, Burress contends the investigations have taken far too long and that a citizen grand jury is “exactly the remedy needed to solve inaction by elected and appointed officials who fail to do their jobs they were put in office and paid to perform.” (JK)