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Judicial Tenure Commission holds hearing on case seeking removal of judge from office

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

The Judicial Tenure Commission held a hearing Monday in a case seeking to remove Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan from office.

Among Brennan's alleged misconduct: violating campaign finance laws; verbally abusing staff, attorneys, and litigants; having a secret affair with the police officer in a murder trial; destroying evidence in her own divorce case; and lying to hide the misconduct.

Brennan's attorney, Dennis Kolenda, told commissioners that the allegations were either unproven, or blown out of proportion. 

He acknowledged that Brennan had a friendship with an investigating police officer, and made 1,500 phone calls to him over three years, but he said that's not evidence she was having an affair with him.

"Maybe there's smoke," Kolenda said. "But not nearly as much when you start looking at the evidence. And there is no fire."

Kolenda also said Brennan's deletion of texts and emails on her iPhone, after a judge ordered them preserved, was not a violation of the law, because they were not definitely going to be used as evidence in her divorce trial.

But JTC examiner Lynn Helland says Brennan committed eight different kinds of misconduct in office, including, "a breaktaking range of lies" to cover up the alleged misconduct.

"Judge Brennan not only lied and tampered with evidence in her divorce, she told a lot of other lies," said Helland. "She lied over the course of years, she lied in court, she lied when testifying and she lied when writing to the JTC. "

The Commission could recommend Brennan's removal from office to the Michigan Supreme Court, or lesser sanctions.

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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