LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Lana Theis, Rep. Hank Vaupel and Rep. Ann Bollin lent support on Wednesday to a petition filed with the state Supreme Court by the Joint Tenure Commission requesting Judge Theresa Brennan be suspended without pay.
“I strongly support the JTC’s petition to suspend Theresa Brennan from the bench without pay. She has failed to resign, and this is a logical next step in this sad saga,” said Theis, R-Brighton. “Brennan is an affront to the court, the legal profession and due process, and she no longer deserves to receive a salary at the taxpayers’ expense.
“Livingston County residents have been saddled with providing her a paycheck even though her caseload was stripped months ago, and she has not been working. Not only that, taxpayers have also been helping to foot the bill of the visiting judge that has taken over for her.
“Only Theresa Brennan knows why she hasn’t resigned, and until she does or is removed, we will do what we can to help restore the integrity of the rule of law on the district court bench and move our county forward.”
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by Theis and Vaupel in December of last year revealed that, since Brennan lost her docket in June 2018, Livingston County has paid Brennan $25,507.44 in salary as well as $28,580.60 in salary for the visiting judge who is covering in her absence. Livingston County taxpayers cover roughly 50 percent of the salary expenses while state taxpayers cover the rest. In total, taxpayers have paid over $108,000 in salary expenses along with additional $75,000 in legal fees defending Judge Brennan during her JTC complaint.
Vaupel echoed Theis’ sentiments.
“After thorough and extensive investigation, the JTC has recommended that salary be stopped and put into escrow pending further court action. Taxpayers of Livingston County should not continue to pay salary and also the costs of a visiting judge,” said Vaupel, R-Fowlerville. “This action is clearly necessary.”
Michigan law currently requires that judges receive a salary regardless of whether they are in a legal situation such as Brennan. However, to prevent further instances like Brennan’s from harming other Michigan communities, Theis has submitted a bill request that would withhold a judge’s salary in escrow if a judge has been charged with a felony crime and if his or her docket has been removed.
“The JTC made the right decision to suspend Theresa Brennan’s pay until this issue is resolved,” said Bollin, R-Brighton. “Livingston county residents deserve to know their tax money is being spent efficiently. I look forward to a speedy resolution to the matter.”