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Hearing on complaint against Livingston County judge to continue

Livingston County

A hearing on a complaint against Livingston County District Judge Theresa Brennan continues later this month. The proceeding could result in a recommendation to the Michigan Supreme Court that she be removed from office.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission says Brennan commited multiple acts of misconduct, including concealing personal relationships with people in cases before her, a pattern of treating attorneys and others in her courtroom with disrespect, using court staff to work on her reelection campaign and perform personal work for her during work hours, concealing evidence, and lying to the Commission.

Brennan denies wrongdoing. She says her friendships with people who appeared in cases before her were well-known to the legal community, so that she did not have to disclose them, and that the commission only alleges two instances of treating people with disrespect in the courtroom, which is not a pattern. 

Brennan says court staff worked on her campaign and did errands for her on their own time, and she says she did not lie to the Commission.

Brennan also says the authority given to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission is unconstitutional, and the commission's complaint should be dismissed and the role of the commission reevaluated and restructured by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Michigan law prohibits recalls against judges.  The only other way Brennan could be removed from office, absent an order from the state Supreme Court, is an impeachment and trial in the state Legislature.

An impeachment resolution was introduced in the state House in late September, alleging many of the same patterns of misconduct, including hiding relationships that posed a conflict of interest, and discourteous treatment of those appearing before her.  

Brennan is on paid leave from the Livingston County District Court. She is also being sued by Livingston County for wages the county paid to court employees, who allegedly did personal work for her during business hours.

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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