53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan has filed her answers to an amended formal complaint filed by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, ultimately requesting it be dismissed.

The document totals 47-pages and is in response to the complaint filed by the Commission, stemming from Brenna’s relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong. He served as the chief prosecution witness during the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, which Brennan presided over and resulted in Kowalski’s conviction and life sentence. Brennan and Furlong admit to an affair but claim it began after the trial. Testimony and documents from Brennan’s 2017 divorce indicate the relationship began long before Kowalski’s trial.

In the document filed, Brennan admitted that while Kowalski was assigned to her, which was from March 2009 until March 2013, she did have contact with Det. Sgt. Furlong but specifics were misleading. Brennan maintains activities such as sporting events and dinners mentioned were infrequent and typically group activities involving other people and only gave Furlong a ride “occasionally” – noting they only went to a concert after Kowalski concluded. Brennan admits to having phone calls and texts with Furlong during the trial but does not believe it was done routinely and says she has not been able to review phone records because they have been in possession of her husband and the JTC until recently.

Brennan maintains disclosure of her nature of contacts with Furlong was not required because the JTC does not allege she was biased or pre-judicial for either party in the case, and further did not deprive either counsel in the case of relevant information. She admits she did not disqualify herself, but denies she failed to do so. Brennan states her friendship with Furlong was open and obvious throughout the legal and law enforcement communities, and the relationship was just a friendship. Brennan alleges many paragraphs in the complaint were too vague to answer or simply states” denied”.

Other aspects of the JTC complaint relate to allegations of “a pattern of improper conduct” regarding her failure to disclose various personal relationships and disqualify herself in several key cases. It also alleges Brennan had employees under her supervision perform personal tasks for her during working hours – which is also the subject of a recently filed lawsuit against Brennan by Livingston County. For those claims, Brennan maintains many do not accurately reflect Michigan law as applied and she cannot be expected to admit or deny certain specifics, and waivers of disqualification were not needed in different cases. The response states the amended JTC complaint does not specify any conduct by Judge Brennan which supports claims to misconduct in multiple paragraphs, therefore, none of those claims can be pursued.

In closing, the document states Judge Brennan “respectfully prays that Amended Formal Complaint No.99 be dismissed with prejudice and that she be awarded such other and further relief as appropriate”. The full document may be accessed through the link provided. (JM)