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Judicial Tenure Commission begins hearing on misconduct allegations against Livingston County judge

Livingston County

The Judicial Tenure Commission has begun a hearing on a complaint against Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan.

Brennan is accused of hiding conflicts of interest in cases before her -- ordering court staff to do personal work for her -- and treating people in her courtroom with contempt.

But Republican State Representative Lana Theis says the commission has been acting too slowly. 

The complaint was first lodged against Brennan 18 months ago. Brennan has been taken off the court case schedule, so she is not currently presiding over cases, but she is still being paid.

"I believe she should not be sitting on the bench, the people of Livingston County who I've spoken with over and over again believe she should not be sitting on the bench," says Theis.

Theis says it's not a certainty that the commission will decide to remove Brennan from the bench, even though some of the allegations are extremely serious. The complaint alleges she was having an affair with an investigating officer in a murder case before her, and that she failed to disclose the relationship to defense counsel.

Brennan denies she was having an affair with the man, saying she was merely friends with him.

Theis was not willing to wait for the tenure commision to act. On Friday, she introduced an impeachment resolution in the state House. 

"She cannot be recalled, so our next option is for an impeachment," says Theis, "and our state constitution provides for that and so that's the process that we decided to go ahead and begin."

If the House votes in favor of the resolution, the state Senate will hold a trial on whether Brennan should be removed from office. Theis says that could potentially happen before the end of this year.

Brennan is also being sued by Livingston County to recoup wages paid to court staff who allegedly performed personal work for her during business hours.

In one instance, Brennan is accused of telling a staff member to go to her house and wait for a cable provider to arrive, and make sure her cable was connected.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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