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- 10/05/18--05:11: _Attorneys Sit Cente...
- 10/05/18--06:44: _Crowd Seeks Answers...
- 10/05/18--07:10: _Session Will Discus...
- 10/05/18--08:51: _Jameson's Pub Comin...
- 10/05/18--08:32: _IBM Executives To T...
- 10/05/18--09:10: _Sheriff's Office Id...
- 10/05/18--13:57: _Judge Brennan Heari...
- 10/05/18--16:33: _Center Stage Busine...
- 10/06/18--03:44: _Local Lunch Series ...
- 10/06/18--04:01: _Howell Names Teache...
- 10/06/18--07:14: _Forum To Promote Eq...
- 10/06/18--19:54: _Statewide Labor Dis...
- 10/07/18--07:56: _Brighton City Counc...
- 10/07/18--15:39: _Howell Main Street ...
- 10/07/18--15:49: _Haunted Hayrides, T...
- 10/06/18--08:05: _Three More Testify ...
- 10/07/18--21:39: _Governor Snyder App...
- 10/07/18--22:11: _Milford Police Inve...
- 10/08/18--02:53: _Brighton Contribute...
- 10/08/18--05:36: _Health Officials Of...
- 10/05/18--13:57: Judge Brennan Hearing ContinuesJudge Brennan Hearing Continues
- 10/06/18--04:01: Howell Names Teacher Of The YearHowell Names Teacher Of The Year
Testimony on relationship disclosure and courtroom behavior was given during day four of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commissionâs complain hearing against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan.
Thursday marked the fourth day of the JTCâs hearing which is being held at the 16th District Court in Livonia. The hearing is being presided over by Former Circuit Court Judge and Special Master William Giovan. The main issue of the complaint is Brennanâs relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski.
Among those taking the stand was Walter Piszczatowski. Piszczatowski defended Kowalski, who was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life, in a case that was presided over by Brennan. JTC Executive Director Lynn Helland asked the attorney of 41 years about a letter he was made aware of on the eve of the trial in January 2013. The letter, which was written by Howell attorney Tom Kizer, was sent to the Prosecutorâs Office, warning about the potentially inappropriate relationship between Brennan and Furlong. Piszczatowski said from the letter and a conversation with Brennan, that he had no reason to believe it was anything more than a professional, social relationship at that time. He recalled from the meeting in the judgeâs chambers that Brennan was fighting back tears talking about how Kizer has had it in for her.
Helland asked Piszczatowski if Brennan disclosed how frequently she and Furlong talked on the phone and hung out, often at bars. He said no. Helland dug deeper, asking if Brennan disclosed to him that she swum in her swimming pool at a party at which Furlong was at, and that while in the pool had removed her clothing. Piszczatowski said no, and when asked if that was significant to him, he said âYes, that is a huge fact.â He said , âI canât believe any chief judge would say âOkay, sure, try the case,â if they heard that fact. Thatâs just me, though. But no, that didnât come up. There was nothing of any mention to me of any sexual entendre or titillating nature, no.â
During cross-examination, Brennanâs attorney noted that the conviction was made by a jury and the life sentence was mandatory and out of Brennanâs control. Piszczatowski agreed, but felt her disallowing of expert witnesses was unjustified and had an effect. After the appeals process, a psychological expert was allowed, but Piszczatowski said it was the one that wasnât that hurt Kowalski more. Disallowing the false confession expert gutted the case, he said. âSheâs the gate keeper. She shut the gate.â
Also on the stand yesterday was Livingston County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kim Morrison. Morrison has served in that role since 2016. From 2005 through 2013 she was the video clerk for Judge David Reader. It was during this time around 2007 that she made friends with Brennan, Furlong, State Police Detective Chris Corriveau, and Assisting Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Ryan. Ryan testified on Wednesday that she did not date Furlong, but they did have sexual relations. Morrison said Ryan was only a part of their group for about a year and was definitely out of it by 2009. Brennan and Furlong claim their relationship began after the trial, but documents from Brennanâs 2017 divorce hearing suggest otherwise. JTC Executive Director Lynn Helland asked Morrison about this. He posed that if Judge Brennan said that prior to the Kowalski case in 2013, would it be consistent with Morrisonâs recollection that would have been extremely rare for Brennan to socialize with Furlong, Corriveau, or her with Ryan not present. Morrison said, no, that would not be consistent. Helland continued, âIn fact, if understand what you said, it was actually quite common for you to socialize without Shawn Ryan being there.â Morrison said yes.
Morrison said their core group of 4, being her, Corriveau, Fulrong and Brennan would socialize regularly until she cut back in 2011 after being discovered in an extra-marital affair with Corriveau. Morrison, while still Readerâs clerk at the time, recalled a strange reaction from Brennan when she called her and talked about leaving Corriveau. One day while on the Morrison said she told Brennan that she had taken interest in someone who is âkinda cute.â Morrision said Brennan asked, âIs it Sean Furlong?â to which Morrison said she was relieved that she did not say his name, and that it felt âodd to me.â
Civil Division Leader for the 53rd District Court, Lisa Bobe, testified to Brennanâs demeanor. Bobe said that outside of court, Brennan was fun. Inside was a different story. Bobe said Brennan could be nice or difficult, calling it a âJeckyl and Hydeâ situation.
Amy Krieg is an attorney for Habitat for Humanity. From 2012 to 2015 she worked for Sherry Polleschâs law firm. Pollesch is an old, former friend of Brennan, who has also represented Brennanâs ex-husband businesses. Krieg said that while being the defense attorney in the Halliday v Halliday case before Brennan, Brennan called her into her chambers. Brennan accused her clients of committing a crime, stating that she could have the bailiff take them into custody now and that Krieg could be implicated in the crime, too, according to Krieg. She requested Brennan be disqualified from the case, in which she was. Brennanâs attorney said during cross-examination that Readerâs stated reason was that Brennan was biased towards Krieg. She said Brennan was very harsh with her afterwards, and that she couldnât live her life in fear of going in front of her so she took a new job working for a law school.
Pam Maas, Chief Assisting Prosecuting Attorney for Livingston County was the final witness to share testimony. She said at times Brennanâs court would be a normal court, and at other times she would be intemperate to attorneys. She said she, too, did not know of the alleged closeness of Brennan and Furlongâs relationship. She saw Kizerâs letter on the eve of the Kowalski trial and was the one to share it with Piszczatowski. Maas said during the conference in the judgeâs chambers that Brennan believed the letter overstated things and seemed upset. Maas said she was unaware and that Brennan did not disclose of the phone calls and texting that went on between her and Furlong during the trial and between the verdict and sentencing.
The JTCâs hearing continues Friday.
A public meeting on the Huron River contamination and efforts being put toward mitigating the PFAS problem drew a large crowd in Milford Thursday.
Community members filled the meeting room at the Milford Civic Center, leaving standing-room only, and still a line of guests continued out of the room and into the hallway. The meeting was led by the Huron River Watershed Council, along with Milford, Milford Township and Wixom officials, and representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
State officials first gave a presentation to educate attendees about per- and polyfluroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, which are man-made and ânearly indestructibleâ chemicals found in a variety of common household products, construction materials, electronics and firefighting foam. MDEQ and MDHHS representatives shared the status of various water and fish sampling thatâs been underway, as they work to learn the extent of the contamination.
Wixom City Manager Steve Brown also shared measures that are being taken by a company that has been confirmed as a significant source of PFAS that are being discharged into Norton Creek. Brown says Tribar is installing temporary filtration systems while the MDEQ works to determine how PFAS levels in Tribarâs discharge have actually increased, since the company stopped using products that contained the chemicals in 2015.
Hamburg Township officials, referring to Tribar, have called on Wixom city officials to âclose the valveâ, but Stephanie Kammer of the DEQ's water quality unit says it's not that simple. Kammer says it will take a process that includes treatment options and working with municipality and company partners to address the situation appropriately.
The MDEQ is currently sampling sites in Livingston County, all of which have been non-detect for the chemicals thus far. The most recent data shows the MDEQ has completed about 89% of the countyâs sampling. Alex Hansen, who is running for the Livingston County Commissionersâ 5th District seat, attended the meeting and says he's "disappointed in the lack of importance placed on the issue by county commissioners". Hansen noted there were no Livingston County commissioners in attendance, adding that "actions speak louder than words". (DK)
Several issues set to appear on the November 6th ballot will be the focus of an event next week in Howell.
The Brighton/Howell Unit of the League of Women Voters will be hosting a free public event titled "What's On Your Ballot? The Pro's and Cons of the 2018 State Ballot Proposals" Guest speakers will go over the three statewide proposals that will be on the ballot. They include Proposal 1: the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize the personal use of marijuana; Proposal 2: the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Initiative would transfer the responsibility of re-drawing legislative districts from the partisan legislature to a non-partisan citizenâs commission, while Proposal 3: the Promote the Vote Initiative, would amend the constitution to implement a variety of voting related reforms including no-reason absentee voting, straight party voting and requiring audits for election results.
The meeting will take place Tuesday, October 9th from 6 to 8pm at the Howell Carnegie District Library in the Meabon Room. Youâll find details below. (JK)
Downtown Brighton will soon be getting a new restaurantâ¦in this case, an Irish pub. The new restaurant and bar, to be located in the now-vacant Bagger Daveâs on East Grand River, is Jamesonâs. Now situated in the Green Oak Village Place lifestyle mall at US-23 and Lee Road in Green Oak Township, Jamesonâs will be moving to the new location in early 2019.
At its meeting Thursday night, the Brighton City Council voted unanimously to grant a Downtown Redevelopment Liquor License to Jamesonâs to sell alcohol for a restaurant and bar. Jamesonâs owner Tony Kasab will be required to go through the site plan process in order to get final approval for the move to downtown. City Manager Nate Geinzer tells WHMI that, in addition to the building that housed the former Bagger Daveâs, the owners will be using the adjacent building immediately to the east for more space.
Geinzer says having two Irish pubs in the 100 block of East Grand River kitty-corner across from each other shouldnât pose a problem. Jamesonâs General Manager Drew Hagedorn says the reason for the move is Brightonâs dynamic downtown, particularly at night. He feels the more prominent location on Grand River will result in larger crowds â particularly the â30-and-upâ age group.
Hagedorn says they plan on having acoustic music but it will not interfere with the sports bar aspect, which will have all the TV sets of the current location. He says they are also considering a rooftop patio such as The Pound has on Main Street. He says the plan is to close Jamesonâs at the end of the year and, as he puts it, âseamlessly make the transitionâ to the new location in early January. (TT)
Ten IBM executives will be touring the Pinckney Cyber Training Institute next week as part of an effort to attract business to the state.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Governor Rick Snyder have planned a tour of the state for ten IBM executives next week. Out of all the high schools in Michigan, Pinckney was the one selected to be a part of the IBM tour, which Pinckneyâs Director of Secondary Curriculum/CTE/Cyber Security Dr. Jim Darga says is pretty exciting and quite an honor. The purpose of the tour is to attract IBM business to Michigan and show types of high tech training and education students get in Michigan. He says Pinckney was selected because it has a great reputation for providing very high tech opportunities for students in cyber security, robotic, advanced manufacturing.
The tour will feature the CTI and other aspects of the districtâs career and technical operation. Darga says the tour will demonstrate the Michigan Cyber Range Hub and the capability of that aspect of their operation, such as how it can be used for training exercises and testing but also development of new products and network testing. Darga tells WHMI itâs connected to other hubs and its part of un-classified private internet so they can run training exercises for the National Guard or IT professionals in a safe environment without risk of anything being hacked.
He says the tour will also showcase robotics with the latest equipment, and how students have been able to network robotics to replicate an industrial environment. He described an autonomous nerf blaster, which is a project students developed on motion sensors in the âInternet of Thingsâ course. Darga said the executives will also see how students configure routers and switches, just as they would in the real world.
The tour will take place next Tuesday, and Pinckney Community High School is the first stop. (JM)
Authorities have released the names of those involved in a fatal pedestrian crash in Genoa Township.
The crash happened around 4:30pm Monday at the intersection of Grand River and Meadowview. The Livingston County Sheriffâs Office has identified the deceased pedestrian as 83-year-old Anthony Jacob Krawczyk from Howell. The driver of the vehicle involved has been identified as a 39-year-old Williamston man. The Sheriffâs Office said preliminary investigation revealed the Williamston resident was operating a 2004 Toyota Corolla westbound on Grand River near Meadowview when he struck Krawczyk, who was crossing Grand River and pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver was not injured.
The Sheriffâs Office says alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors in the crash, which remains under investigation. Once completed, the report will be turned over to the Livingston County Prosecutorâs Office for review. (JM)
The court hearing for 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan continued Friday.
Friday marked the fifth day of court proceedings related to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commissionâs complaint against Brennan alleging misconduct in office, perjury and abuse of power. The main issue of the complaint is Brennanâs relationship with former State Police Detective Sean Furlong, who was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski.
On Friday, testimony was heard from South Lyon City Councilwoman and Attorney Margaret Kurtzweil regarding Brennanâs non-disclosure of personal friendships. Two others; Troy Attorney Bruce Sage and Howell Attorney Carol Lathrop-Roberts also testified about Brennanâs demeanor toward them in courtroom.
The hearing continues Monday 16th District Court in Livonia. (JM)
A unique expo next week will highlight businesses from around the Brighton area in a relaxed, after-hours setting.
The Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce will host the 2nd annual event: Center Stage: The Business Expo on Thursday from 4 to 7pm at Crystal Gardens Banquet and Conference Center in Genoa Township. The after-hours networking event is focused on business-to-business networking. Brighton Chamber Director of Digital Marketing & Special Events Jen Ling tells WHMI itâs a social event being an after-hours and they absolutely encourage guests and the general public to attend. She says the expo will feature a DJ, cash bar, appetizers and a mix of various types of local business. Guests do not need to be a member of the Chamber.
Chamber President and CEO Pamela McConeghy said they launched the expo last year and had a great turnout, adding theyâre expecting an even better crowd this year. She says the Center Stage Business Expo is the only of its kind in Livingston County, and will feature a plethora of fantastic businesses.
Guests and the public are welcome to attend at no charge and are encouraged to come and learn more about businesses in the area. A variety of different vendors and sponsors will be participating in the event and various gifts will be given throughout the evening. Booths and sponsorships are still available. Details are in the attached press release. (JM)
The Michigan Right to Farm Act and how it applies to communities in Livingston County will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming luncheon.
The Brown Bag Lunch Series is a quarterly event held by the County Planning Department. For the event, planning professionals, local government officials, and community leaders come together in an informal setting to share ideas. The seriesâ next event will host guest speaker Catherine P. Kaufman, who will present on Michiganâs Right to Farm Act.
Kaufman is an attorney with Bauckham, Sparks, Thall, Seeber & Kaufman, P.C. Her practice includes all aspects of municipal law with a focus on land use, planning and zoning issues. She teaches throughout the state on the Right to Farm Act and has served as an instructor for the Michigan Townshipâs Association, the Michigan State Citizen Plannerâs Program, the Michigan Association of Planning, and the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys.
Kaufman will be featured at the seriesâ October 24th luncheon, which will be held at Genoa Township Hall on Dorr Road in Brighton, from 1 to 2pm. Those attending the event are asked to bring their own lunch and RSVP is appreciated. Anyone interested can RSVP by contacting Scott Barb at email@example.com or Kathleen Kline-Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was a pleasant surprise when a Howell teacherâs classroom was interrupted this week.
On Thursday, Howell High School teacher Mary Villarreal was selected as the 2018-2019 Howell Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Villarreal was surprised in her classroom with the award by Erin MacGregor, Howell Public Schools superintendent and Jason Schrock, Howell High School principal. Several high school teachers and administrators, members of the district administrative team and Villarrealâs family were also present for the surprise.
In multiple nomination letters, Villarreal was described as a dedicated and passionate teacher who serves as a role model to her students and a mentor for her colleagues. They said Villarreal can often be found in her classroom after school helping both current and former students master the content of their current math class. She is also the co-director of Howell High Schoolâs summer school program. Villarreal has been teaching at Howell Public Schools for 19 years.
A committee of 15 district stakeholders comprised of teachers, parents, central office administrators and a school board member met Tuesday to consider 74 Teacher of the Year nominees. After several hours of reviewing the nominations of these outstanding teachers, the committee selected Villarreal as this yearâs winner. She will now represent Howell Public Schools in the Michigan Teacher of the Year competition.
Pictured: Villarreal and HHS principal Jason Schrock share a laugh during the Teacher of the Year Presentation. (JK)
A gathering next week in Howell is looking for support for legislation that would require judges to award joint legal custody of children to divorcing parents.
The Americans for Equal Shared Parentingsâ Capitols for Kids Tour will come to the Howell Opera House on Wednesday, October 10th from 6-9pm. Organizers say the goal is to educate and inform the public on legislative progress in family court reform, specifically laws requiring joint parental custody where no disqualifying factor is present. The keynote speaker will be Mark Ludwig, a parental rights advocate, grassroots organizer and speaker who serves on the Americans for Equal Shared Parenting Board of Directors. He will discuss efforts at the federal level to pass Equal Shared Parenting legislation. Also speaking will be the sponsor of The Michigan Shared Parenting Bill, Republican State Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake. Heâll be joined by Democratic State Rep. Bob Kosowski of Westland and Bill Gelineau, the Libertarian candidate for Governor.
Groups opposed to the legislation, including the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence and the Michigan Judgeâs Association Family Law Committee, contend it removes the focus in child custody disputes from what's best for the child to a parent's right to equal time with their child. But Runestad says the legislation includes measures that would remove equal parenting time if there is any evidence of domestic violence or abuse, false allegations of abuse, refusal to cooperate or parental alienation. He says over 50 international studies have concluded the best arrangement for the vast majority of children is equal shared parenting.
Youâll find details about the Howell Opera House gathering below. (JK)
A problem which could affect the $2 million Second St. project in Brighton has the potential of delaying the paving portion until next spring. City DPW Director Marcel Goch told the City Council Thursday night that a lockout by construction engineers, which has caused major delays in major construction projects across the state, may also have an impact on local road projects, such as Second St. in Brighton.
Due to a resolution reached last week involving the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, and Operating Engineers Local 324, the heavy equipment operators have gone back to work while the two sides meet to mediate their dispute. Although the equipment is now rolling, wet weather is hampering attempts to finish about 160 road projects before the end of the 2018 construction season.
Goch said the sub-contractor, Cadillac Asphalt Co., is now behind in supplying the asphalt for paving projects around the state and there is an outside chance they wonât be able to fill the Brighton order before winter. However, Goch says that if that happens, the cityâs paving contractor should be able to at least âget a base down,â so that the street can be opened to through traffic.
The project includes complete reconstruction of the street from First St. to Cross St., replacement of water and sewer lines with new, higher-capacity lines, new curb and gutter and new, wider sidewalks. Replacement of the water and sewer utilities, at a cost of $1.26 million, will be covered by the cityâs utility reserve fund. Thatâs a self-sustaining fund paid for via customersâ sewer and water rate charges and connection fees. The Downtown Development Authority is paying the $930,000 cost of the street and sidewalk work.
City officials say the Second St. project, which got underway in June, is needed because of the poor condition of the street, aging and inadequate sewer and water lines and two construction projects. These are the already-approved Second Street Flats condominiums and a proposed $35 million, 200-unit luxury townhouse development between Second St. and the Mill Pond. (TT)
The Brighton City Council discussed the possible legalization of recreational marijuana, the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries in local communities and other aspects of the drug during a study session Thursday night.
According to City Manager Nate Geinzer, council wanted to be armed with enough information to be able to address the issue, if Proposal 1 passes in this fallâs statewide election. Council members indicated that they may in the future direct Geinzer to draft a medical marijuana ordinance, depending on what happens at the ballot box.
Geinzer says that currently the city has no ordinance that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary in Brighton. There was a move in the state legislature this past summer to put an initiative for legalizing recreational pot on the November ballot but it failed to garner the votes needed. As a result, the "Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol" began a petition drive for the marijuana legalization ballot initiative, and was able to garner enough signatures to place it on the Nov. 6th ballot.
If approved, Prop I would authorize and legalize the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana products by adults 21 years of age and older, as well as the commercial sale of marijuana through state-licensed retailers. (TT)
Cathleen Edgerly, Howell Main Street C.O.O. and DDA Director, and Kate Litwin, Howell Main Street Inc.âs Outreach Coordinator, will serve as representatives and ride in the parade. The Grand Marshal is selected based on contributions to the city.
Howell Main Street Inc. won the Great American Main Street Award this past March and Edgerly says Main Street is all about building a strong sense of community and engaging everyone to work together. Edgerly adds to have the leaders and organization recognized as the Grand Marshal of this year's Fantasy of Lights parade, an event that serves as a homecoming of sorts by bringing the entire community together, is a very fitting way to round out the year and that they are extremely honored.
Fantasy of Lights Director Michelle Tokan says because the parade is a downtown event, itâs only fitting to recognize the Great American Main Street Award in the parade.
The Fantasy of Lights is Friday, November 23rd, in downtown Howell. The 35th annual Fantasy of Lights is hosted by the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Activities begin at 4 pm, followed by the Fantasy 5K at 6 and the start of the parade at 7.
Sokol Camp in Green Oak Township will host its annual Haunted Trick-or-Treating Walk and Haunted Hayride this Saturday, October 13th.
Camp gates open at 6pm and the event will feature activities for all ages. There will be multiple magic shows, haunted hayrides and the spooky Haunted Walk with designated trick-or-treat cottages. The site also has an indoor/outdoor bar and concessions. Event organizers say The Family Friendly Haunted Hayride and Walk has been a Halloween tradition at Sokol Camp for over twenty years.
The camp is located on Sokol Camp Drive in South Lyon, off of Marshall Road, just North of 9 Mile Road. Admission is $7 per person at the gate or in advance by contacting Jason at email@example.com, though advance reservation is not required. For more information visit âSokol Camp at Sandy Bottom Lakeâ on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first week of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commissionâs complaint hearing against 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan has come to an end.
Three witnesses took the stand on day 5 of the hearing, Friday, in 16th District Court in Livonia. Former Circuit Court Judge and Special Master William Giovan has been presiding over the case. The main issue in the complaint is Brennanâs relationship with former Michigan State Police Detective Sean Furlong. Furlong was the chief prosecution witness in the 2013 double murder trial of Jerome Kowalski, over which Brennan presided. Kowalski was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Brennan and Furlong insist that their relationship began after the trial, but documents from Brennanâs 2017 divorce hearing suggest it began long beforehand.
Fridayâs testimonies centered around Brennanâs lack of disclosure of close friendships with some attorneys to others, and her demeanor in the courtroom.
Taking the stand first was South Lyon City Councilwoman Margaret Kurtzweil. Kurtzweil has practiced business and commercial law for 30 years, with a handful of family law cases. Kurtzweil, who said she doesnât take many Livingston County cases, was brought in at the end of a highly contested divorce case, Shibner v. Shibner. Kurtzweil was representing the husband while Sherry Pollesch, an old friend of Brennan was representing the wife. Judge Suzanne Geddis originally had the case and was âpatient, prepared, and very fair.â She said she was surprised when it was transferred to Brennan, though many in the court system seemed to know it was happening. Brennan, Kurtzweil said, was quick to get upset with her, while Pollesch was treated with respect.
JTC Executive Director Lynn Helland asked Kurtzweil if Brennan disclosed that Pollesch had represented her husband with his businesses and if it would matter to her. Kurtzweil said she didnât know that and that absolutely it would. Helland asked if she disclosed that Brenna has referred to Pollesch as her best friend in the past, and that they had gone on several trips together. Kurtzweil said ânoâ and that this was the first sheâs heard of this and it upset her more now than when she filed for a disqualification during the case.
During cross examination, Brennanâa attorney asked if Kurtzweil knew that Brennan and Pollesch have had a falling out and were no longer friends. Kurtzweil said she didnât know that either, but that it didnât matter. Everything should have been disclosed to her. She said that when a judge and attorney have a relationship, that moves to bar and you are no longer in the realm of neutrality.
Bruce Sage testified second. Sage is a civil litigation lawyer with 44 years of experience, and currently practicing in Troy. He represented the defendant, Denise Sullivan, in the 2014 Sullivan v. Sullivan divorce case. Sage said he felt he was always climbing up a mountain in dealing with Brennan. He said there were constant interruptions, criticisms thrown his way, and that Brennan even mocked him at times. He called practicing law in front of her âa distasteful experience. And I love practicing law.â Sage said she denied him a chance to make statements for the record, and threatened to fine him more than once. At one point, Sage hired a private investigator to sit in on Brennanâs cases to see if she was treating other people as she did him.
The final witness was Howell attorney Carol Lathrop-Roberts. Roberts has had a general practice, working primarily domestic relations for 30 years. She couldnât estimate how many times sheâs been in front of Brennan, but said that it was probably 4 or 5 dozen times.
Like Kurtzweil earlier in the day, Roberts called Brennanâs behavior âappalling.â She said she intimidated litigants, attorneys, and was abusive to court staff. Roberts said it was routine of Brennan to not allow her to present her clientâs case or introduce evidence. She said she believed that Brennan would early on in cases pick a favorite, and you were that favorite, âyou could do no wrong. If you werenât, heaven help youâ¦â
Video evidence was shown of the 2017 case, Brisson v. Terlecky, which was about paternity, custody, and child support. In her testimony, Roberts said she was constantly worried about being found in contempt of court. She called Brennan âa black smear on the judiciary,â and being in her courtroom is an âexercise in sadism.â In preparing herself for the trial, she said she saw the train wreck coming and contacted 2 lawyers, one being Howell attorney Tom Kizer.
At one point in the trial video things became contentious between Roberts and Brennan over Roberts trying to present the Paternity Act statute. Brennan, upset, called the bailiff to have Roberts put in lockup. Roberts told her client to call Tom Kizer as she walked off camera. After a moment, Brennan reconsidered the lockup and brought Roberts back out, accusing her of forum shopping.
In cross examination, Roberts was asked if she knew that Kizer had a repution for coming into cases involving Brennan to get her disqualified, and that he has been admonished by the state bar for this. Roberts said she didnât know, and that she had Kizer ready in case she was locked up for contempt and needed a lawyer herself. He asked again, if she did not intend to use him to get her off the bench, to which she said âno.â
The hearing continues on Monday, and is expected to conclude on Wednesday or Thursday. (MK)
Two local residents have been newly named to serve on the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Governor Rick Snyder announced the appointments of Debbie Mikula of Howell and Tyler Rossmaessler of Fenton to the council. Xavier Verna of Bear Lake and Rick Treur of Grand Rapids were also appointed, along with the re-appointment of Omari Rush of Ann Arbor, who will serve as chair. The 15-member council is housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and helps create an environment of artistic, creative and cultural activity to support Michigan's quality of life and economic vitality. Governor Snyder thanked the individuals for their willingness to serve, adding they all have a strong passion for maintaining and promoting the arts in Michigan.
Mikula is the executive director for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, where she guides and leads a three-county arts service organization with a mission to support, strengthen and promote arts, culture and creativity. Rossmaessler is the director of Economic Development at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. He previously served as business development manager for Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Mikula and Rossmaessler will serve three-year terms expiring September 1st, 2021. Their appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. (JM)
Thieves stole a number of items from a summer day camp in Milford.
Willoway Day Camp is located north of Pontiac Trail on Old Plank Road and various buildings are located throughout the property. The theft was reported on September 17th and the camp was already closed for the year. Items valued at more than $6,000 were stolen from the main office in the building and included cameras, camcorders, microphones, a Wii game system, assorted hand tools, six GPS units and other things. Milford Police are investigating and the responding officer noted the front gate entrance was still locked and the office had been entirely rummaged through. The Milford Times reports the camp director was alerted by another employee about the thefts from the main building, who said that the worker had cleaned up before contacting the camp director. A lock box with a key to the building was apparently undisturbed. Police believe whoever is responsible got in the building through an open window, which had dirt marks on the siding under the window. Two screens found outside appeared to have been cut with a knife. It was reported that some other buildings were accessed but nothing was reported missing. A set of keys to access other buildings was taken from the main office but those were located in one of the other buildings.
Itâs unclear if any potential suspects have been identified. Anyone with information should contact Milford Police. (JM)
Many communities across the state have banded together in a tax appeal case that will have repercussions for them as they strive to offset declining tax revenues. One of them is the city of Brighton. The City Council Thursday night approved a $2,000 donation toward the legal fight by the city of Escanaba against the Michigan Tax Tribunal, with the money going to the Michigan Municipal Leagueâs Legal Defense Fund.
The MML is representing Escanaba in the appeal of a determination by the state tax tribunal that greatly reduced the amount of taxes Menardâs pays to the city. The city appealed and the case went to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of Escanaba, tossing the case back into the lap of the tax tribunal.
The big-box chain stores have been employing the âDark Storeâ theory of property, in which the valuation of a store in one location is based on the market value of another store in the chain that is closed and vacant â and may not even be in Michigan. As a result, Menards, and Target - which has a store in Brighton - are valued at about $25 per square foot. However, in Menardâs home state of Wisconsin, the stores are valued at $61 per square foot.
Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer told council that numerous municipalities across the state have contributed financially to the cause, including nearby Hartland Township. Brighton City Attorney Paul Burns told council that âDark Storeâ cases involving the city of Brighton in the last decade or so have resulted in the loss of âhundreds of thousandsâ of dollars in tax revenue. Burns said Brighton has already been negatively impacted by such cases, such as in the case of Home Depot. However, frequent council critic Susan Bakhaus said the money should be used instead for the residents of Brighton, who expect their taxes to be used for local improvements. (TT)
Local health officials say flu season has arrived and itâs not too early to consider getting the influenza vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control universally recommends anyone 6 months of age and over consider getting the vaccine. With the arrival of colder weather and closer contact, there is more opportunity to spread communicable diseases. Livingston County Medical Director Dr. Don Lawrenchuk says itâs definitely not too early to get a flu shot and advises people not wait until itâs too late, noting it takes about two weeks for the full benefits of the vaccine to kick in and become protected.
There have been no confirmed cases locally to date but Lawrenchuk tells WHMI itâs just a matter of time, as there have already been confirmed cases across the state and in neighboring Washtenaw County. He says flu season typically stretches from October through spring but last year was unusual in that there were confirmed cases reported well into May. He says with all of the international travel going on these days, people bring diseases back with them.
Lawrenchuk says the influenzas strains currently circulating throughout the state have been deemed a good match for the vaccine. It protects against two different types of influenza A, the more severe, and two types of influenza B strains. Lawrenchuk says it is a killed vaccine in the shot, so despite popular myth it canât transmit the disease. He says what often happens is that someone is exposed to influenza and then gets the vaccine but because it hasnât been two weeks, the person is not fully protected. The Livingston County Health Department hosts weekly flu shot clinics on Wednesdays but various local pharmacies and health care providers also administer the vaccine. Lawrenchuk says they donât care where someone gets the vaccine, as long as they get it.
While some might not always take the risk of getting influenza seriously, Lawrenchuk says 80,000 people died as a result last year due to Influenza and complications. He says it is very preventable and the vaccine is the easiest and simplest way to avoid getting the virus. However, simple handwashing also goes a long way and can prevent over 90% of communicable diseases. (JM)