Son Of Man Convicted In 2008 Oceola Homicides Says Judicial Rule Change Would Deny Justice
March 15, 2017
The son of the man convicted for an Oceola Township double homicide says he is absolutely against a proposal before the Michigan Supreme Court that would make changes to rules about how complaints against judges are handled.
Jared Kowalski has always maintained that his father Jerome is innocent of the murders of his uncle and aunt in their Lyngre Drive home in 2008 and that recent revelations about the judge and lead detective in his trial have only deepened his resolve to see the conviction overturned. But he says the recent proposal, which would effectively bar the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission from investigating judicial complaints more than three years old, could deny justice to people like his father, who is serving a life sentence.
Kowalski’s hopes for his father’s conviction being overturned gained momentum last month when the divorce filing of Donald Root, the estranged husband of 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan, became public. It alleges Brennan was engaged in a sexual affair with the Michigan State Police detective who led the investigation into the double-homicide. Judge Brennan presided over Jerome Kowalski’s trial and sentenced him to the life term.
Detective Lt. Sean Furlong has admitted to the affair, but says it didn't begin until late 2013, well after Kowalski's trial in January of that year. Root alleges the affair began as early as 2009 and was purposely concealed by both Brennan and Furlong leading up to and during the trial, something they have both strenuously denied. However, Jared Kowalski tells WHMI that his father's case should be a prime example of why these changes should not be made. “You have a lead detective who eventually gets my dad to confess to a crime he didn't do, (no DNA, no fingerprints, no footprints, no physical evidence whatsoever), you have a judge who bans a false confession expert from testifying, and then you have Furlong in the ear of (Assistant Prosecutor) Pam Maas for the majority of the trial where she objected to so much testimony on behalf of my father and the majority of those objections granted by Brennan.” Kowalski said he “hopes and prays” the proposal does not pass as it would allow “judges getting a free pass from their wrongdoings of the past.”
As for appealing his father’s conviction, Kowalski says he has been in contact with both The Innocence Clinic of Ann Arbor and The Innocence Project from Lansing along as well as the Michigan State Appellate Defender’s Office. Meanwhile, the proposed rule change for judicial misconduct remains under consideration. At a recent public hearing on the matter, Glenn Page, interim executive director of the Judicial Tenure Commission, said while it would allow investigations of allegations more than three years old "for good cause," it is vague at best and would lead to litigation by “every judge who is dealing with misconduct that may be older than three years." There is no deadline for the Michigan Supreme Court to reach a decision on the proposal. (JK)