A retired judge has been appointed to hear the case against a Livingston County judge accused of failing to disclose a relationship with a police officer during a murder case.

The Michigan Supreme Court today appointed retired Wayne County Circuit Court Judge William J. Giovan as a special master to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the Judicial Tenure Commission’s official complaint against 53rd District Judge Theresa Brennan. Chief Justice Stephen J. Markman said the state’s highest court has “the utmost confidence in Judge Giovan’s ability to handle this matter with fairness and expedition on behalf of the people of Livingston County and the people of Michigan.” The announcement follows Tuesday’s filing of a 66-page complaint against Brennan by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. Investigators say Brennan had 239 phone calls with former state police Sgt. Sean Furlong over a 14-month period while Furlong was involved in a murder case before the judge.

Testimony during her divorce indicated the pair had been involved in a sexual relationship before, during and after the 2013 trial of Jerome Kowalski, who was convicted and sentenced to life by Brennan after Furlong served as the prosecution’s chief witness. They have since acknowledged an affair but insist it started after the trial. On Wednesday, Livingston County Chief Judge Miriam Cavanaugh announced that Brennan’s docket was being reassigned to the county’s other judges. (JK)