In re Theresa Brennan, Judge (Opinion - Leave Granted)Annotate this Case
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a formal complaint against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan alleging 17 counts of judicial misconduct related to both her professional conduct and to her conduct during her divorce proceedings. After a hearing, the master concluded by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent had committed misconduct in office with respect to all but one count of the second amended complaint. In particular, the master found that respondent had: (1) failed to disclose when she presided over Michigan v. Kowalski (No. 08-17643-FC) that she was involved in a romantic relationship with the principal witness, and did not disqualify herself from the case on that basis; (2) failed to immediately disqualify herself from hearing her own divorce case and destroyed evidence even though she knew that her then-estranged husband had filed an ex parte motion to preserve evidence; (3) failed to disclose her relationship with attorney Shari Pollesch or to disqualify herself from hearing cases in which Pollesch or her firm served as counsel for a party; (4) made false statements under oath when deposed in her divorce case; (5) made false statements during certain cases over which she presided regarding her relationships with Furlong and Pollesch; (6) made false statements under oath to the commission; (7) verbally abused attorneys, litigants, witnesses, and employees; (8) directed employees to perform personal tasks for her during work hours; (9) directed employees to perform work for her judicial campaign during work hours; and (10) interrupted two depositions she attended during her divorce case. The Michigan Supreme Court found the commission’s findings of fact were supported by the record, and its conclusions of law and analysis of the appropriate sanctions was correct. Respondent was ordered removed from her current office and suspended from holding judicial office for six years; the commission was ordered to submit an itemized bill of costs, fees, and expenses incurred in prosecuting the complaint.