Michigan Supreme Court announces June oral argument

The Michigan Supreme Court announced that oral arguments in one case will be heard Wednesday, June 19. The court will convene to hear the case at 9:30 a.m. in the sixth floor of the Hall of Justice, 925 W. Ottawa Street in Lansing.

The court broadcasts its oral arguments and other hearings live on the Internet via streaming video technology. Residents can watch the stream live only while the court is in session and on the bench (https://courts.michigan.gov/courts/michigansupremecourt/oral-arguments/live-streaming/pages/live-streaming.aspx). Streaming will begin shortly before the hearings start; audio will be muted until justices take the bench.

The following brief account may not reflect the way that some or all of the court’s seven justices view the case. The attorneys may also disagree about the facts, issues, procedural history, and significance of this case. For further details about the case, contact the attorneys.

Wednesday, June 19, 9:30 a.m.
157930 In Re Theresa M. Brennan, Judge.
Arguing for the Judicial Tenure Commission Lynn Helland
Arguing for Judge Brennan Dennis Kolenda

Grievances were filed with the Judicial Tenure Commission against 53rd District Judge Theresa M. Brennan by the Livingston County prosecuting attorney and a local attorney. On June 12, 2018, after an investigation, the Commission filed Formal Complaint No. 99 in the Supreme Court. The court appointed retired Wayne Circuit Judge William J. Giovan as master. Following the filing of an amended complaint, the master conducted several days of hearings in October 2018. A second amended complaint was filed, and, while it dismissed some charges, it raised additional claims that required an additional day of hearing. The master issued his findings of fact and conclusions of law.

He found, among other things, that respondent tampered with evidence in her divorce case, lied under oath during the Commission and other proceedings, failed to disclose a close personal relationship with a witness in a homicide case, failed to disclose a close personal relationship with an attorney who appeared before her, used her court staff to work on her judicial campaign during work hours, used her staff to perform personal tasks for her, and demonstrated persistent abuse of attorneys, litigants, witnesses, and staff. The Commission filed a petition for interim suspension without pay. On February 27, 2019, the court suspended respondent with pay. Respondent filed objections to the master’s report, and the examiner responded. Respondent filed a motion to disqualify the Commission, arguing that the filing of the petition for interim suspension showed that the Commission had prejudged the case. The Commission denied the motion.

A hearing was held at which the Commission heard objections to the report, and it issued its decision, recommending respondent’s removal from office, and ordering her to pay costs based on her intentional misrepresentations and misleading statements made to the Commission. Respondent has filed a petition to reject or modify the Commission’s recommendation, and the Commission has responded. The court has ordered oral argument to be heard on the petition and the response on June 19, 2019.