Overruling one of her colleagues, Livingston County Probate Court Judge Miriam Cavanaugh has fired the chief prosecutor who was appointed to handle an inquiry into the case of Livingston County District Court Judge Theresa Brennan.
Livingston County Circuit Court Judge David Reader had appointed a special prosecutor on June 20, but on June 25, Cavanaugh overruled him and vacated that order, acting in her capacity as the chief judge in Livingston County. That decision is now under appeal.
Cavanaugh’s decision is sure to rankle many in Livingston County, given the longtime relationship between Cavanaugh and Brennan. Cavanaugh endorsed Brennan for re-election in 2014, and was photographed at her election-night victory party.
Brennan has been under fire for more than a year for her actions in the 2013 murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, after it was revealed that Brennan – the presiding judge in the case – was having an affair with the lead investigator in the case, Michigan State Police Trooper Sean Furlong. Brennan contends the affair didn’t begin until the trial was over.
Brennan is under investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission in the case, and earlier this month, she was taken off the bench and placed on leave by Cavanaugh, after numerous officials called for her to resign. Brennan continues to be paid while on leave.
This latest wrinkle is a bombshell in a case that has been filled with them. Here’s the latest sequence of events:
- On June 4, retired Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Burress filed a request to seat a grand jury in the case, saying it was a disgrace that the situation had taken so long to be resolved. The case was assigned to Judge Reader.
- On June 20, Reader ordered that Howell attorney Tom Kizer (a longtime Brennan foe) be assigned as special prosecutor, and gave Kizer the authority to hire an assistant prosecutor and investigators. Kizer signed an “Oath of Public Officers” that same day.
- Following that order, Reader entered an Oath of Disqualification, recusing himself from hearing the case.
- On June 25, Cavanaugh took control of the case as chief judge and fired Kizer. In her ruling, Cavanaugh said that Reader should have disqualified himself from the beginning, before he even appointed Kizer.
- In firing Kizer, Cavanaugh referred the grand jury request to the Supreme Court Administrative Office, where cases can languish for years. Brennan’s term doesn’t expire until 2020.
- On June 26, Burress filed an appeal of Cavanaugh’s decision. It remains unclear who will hear that appeal.
You can read the filings here: BRENNAN FILES