37ºF

Former Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan breaks down in court before being sentenced to jail

Brennan accused of having affair with investigator during murder trial

HOWELL, Mich. – Former Livingston County Judge Theresa Brennan broke down in court Friday before being sentenced to jail for perjury.

Brennan was sentenced Friday in 44th Circuit Court to six months in jail, 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service.

You can watch the full sentencing in the video posted below.

She was removed from the bench in June and prohibited from seeking the same office for six years by the Michigan Supreme Court. Her license was later suspended.

Brennan’s statement

During Friday’s proceedings, Brennan broke down while giving a statement.

Here’s her full statement:

"Your honor, I’ve struggled with how to convey to you my remorse and shame that I feel because of what I’ve done.

"I know you read the letter than I wrote, and I wasn’t going to read any part of it here today because I didn’t think I would be able to make it through. But I think it’s important that the public know I’ve taken it so seriously, so I’m going to try to read a little bit of it.

"No good answer exists as to why I lied to Mr. Kaiser during my divorce deposition. It was ignorant, foolish and wrong. I’m devastated, I’ve lost my career and I’m a felon. My husband and I -- we didn’t have children. As a result, we threw ourselves into our careers. For years, I defined myself by what I did, and I believed I was doing something that was purposeful. Because of my actions, I’ve lost that. I appreciate that the public now has a more negative view of judges and lawyers because of what I did. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted the opposite. My family and friends have suffered because of my actions. I hate that I’ve put them through this. I’ve been publicly shamed. I’m humiliated and I’m embarrassed.

"I began journaling, and I’m going to read a portion of what I wrote the summer of 2019.

"I have never broken down in front of you. I’ve been stoic. I’ve been steadfast in my determination to show strength when around my family and friends, and of course, in public. My brother told me he wants to emulate my strength -- something like that -- that I’m a role model for his boys. My dad wrote me a letter and told me that I was his hero, that he’d not had a hero since my mom died. I am none of those or that. I’m simply living my life the only way I know how. My suffering reached a point to where I wondered how to die -- a gun, pills, hanging, drowning, driving into a tree, asphyxiation. But I’m not that weak. I have sobbed more in the past three years than my entire life. I have buried a mother and a sister, curled up in a fetal position, lying on the floor because I could not hold up my weight -- the type of sobbing that scares you because your mind and body ache beyond recognition, where you’re gasping for air. I’ve prayed for night and dreaded dawn. At night, I’ve held a rosary as I fell asleep. When I would awake, I would pull the comforter over my head, creating a cocoon. Fall and winter were a welcome relief because darkness arrives sooner. I’ve watched my father age. I’ve seen him weep uncontrollably. The shame I’ve felt, the fear of going into a store, anywhere public because of the stares, never knowing when I’d be confronted, the embarrassment of giving anyone my last name. I’ve begged on my knees the universe to make it stop. I think I am to a place where the tears stop, and they come again and again. I have believed I am unworthy of respect. I have believed I have lived a wasted life, that my entire life has been a failure. I have believed I am worthless. I have believed I will never be deserving of love. Do you not understand I am broken?

"Your honor, I am consumed with guilt. I have failed in so many ways. I failed so many people. I have let down and caused indescribable suffering for my family and friends. They have given me unconditional love and support, which I don’t deserve. Over time, I hope to be able to repay them for what they have done for me.

"My actions have resulted in me letting down my community, those who elected me, those who I worked with. I disgraced the legal profession. Someone I asked to write a letter for me said that he believes we should not be judged by our worst or our best. I pray that’s true. This is my worst.

"I have learned invaluable lessons about myself over these past three years -- lessons I promise (are going) to allow me to make amends.

"Recently, I was attending a funeral, and there was this readying from Proverbs, and there was a phrase that struck me, that was, ‘Humility before honor.’ Somewhere along the line I lost my ability to be humble. This has humbled me.

“I don’t feel sorry for myself. I blame only myself. I know I have much to be grateful for. I ask for mercy.”

What happened

The Judicial Tenure Commission revealed a laundry list of problematic charges against Brennan, including misconduct in office, conduct clearly prejudicial to the administration of justice, and failure to respect and observe the law.

Most of the problems arose during the murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, who is serving a life sentence after his conviction. The case was brought to trial mainly because of Michigan State Police investigator Sean Furlong.

The Judicial Tenure Commission found Furlong and Brennan were having an affair during the trial, and when asked to remove herself from the case, Brennan refused.

The misconduct in office and tampering with evidence charges against Brennan were dropped as part of her plea.


About the Author: