A US judge accused of a string of ethics violations has been removed from office.

District court judge Theresa Brennan appeared before the Michigan Supreme Court facing 17 counts of judicial misconduct. One of the complaints concerned a murder trial over which Brennan presided where she failed to disclose her close relationship with a key witness; lead police detective Sean Furlong. An investigation appointed by the Supreme Court concluded that the relationship between Furlong and Brennan was of a romantic nature, both before and during the trial. Evidence was adduced which included hundreds of texts and phone calls "of a social nature" between the pair. However, Brennan's lawyer argued that this was not proof of an improper relationship. 

Brennan told a court journalist that she was sure that the accused, Jerome Kowalski, was guilty of murder based on a conversation she'd had with Furlong. Kowalski was convicted at the hearing, but his case will now have to be reheard following this revelation.     

In another complaint, Brennan failed to disclose a close personal relationship that she had with a lawyer who appeared before in her five trials between 2014 and 2016. Brennan denied motions to disqualify herself from those cases. 

Perhaps most extraordinarily, Brennan also did not immediately recuse herself from her own divorce case. The Supreme Court found that she also destroyed evidence in those proceedings.


Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court, yesterday


The Supreme Court noted that Brennan had told her staff to carry out personal tasks for her during work hours. Completing the bollocking it also found that Brennan's manner was "persistently impatient, undignified, and discourteous to those appearing before her" in court. It ordered that Brennan be removed from the bench. 

Brennan's lawyer said that maybe there was "a little misconduct" from her client, but said that removing Brennan was "way out of proportion". 

Brennan may find herself back in court sooner than she thinks, as she currently faces a separate criminal case concerning perjury and tampering of evidence. 

 

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Comments

Sandra Bloomfield 06 July 19 23:10

All Judges, including family courts, must be held accountable for their findings, and monitored. Domestic abuse is just one sector where this is crucial 

Anonymous 08 July 19 13:14

Hard to believe anyone could seriously believe that there aren't frequent conflicts of interest in the UK courts, @5th July 19.02. The real courts aren't like LA Law.

Anonymouse 12 July 19 08:11

"a little learning is a dangerous thing" methinks!  This is actually relatively normal in the British courts as viewing a handful of episodes of Judge John Deed will attest.  What usually happens is that Deed has the 'conflict' brought to his attention (typically he is sleeping with one of the witnesses or occasionally the victim).  This conflict thing is usually being argued by a nasty-looking red faced man who basically seems completely mad and who usually seems to be on the baddies' side.  Anyway Deed listens to some of this, then  decides it's all ok, there's no conflict, then he goes on and hears the case.  Justice delivered.