The Michigan Court of Claims has reinstated sexual assault lawsuits against prominent Oakland County attorney Mike Morse, which is originally filed in 2020 by two former female clients of Morse’s law office. The Court of Claims has reinstated seven lawsuits filed against Michael Morse by two women who had been sexually assaulted by him at his law office. Morse is charged with sexually touching the breasts of a client, Jordan Smits, in separate instances and is also accused of forcibly fondling a woman in his chambers. Smits was a paralegal who helped the women.
After both cases were dismissed by the Court of Claims, the plaintiffs asked to refile their claims. They argued that they had been sexually assaulted and that the crimes were committed by Morse on the premises of his law office, not at work. The Court of Claims agreed to reinstate the lawsuits, but the ruling has been put on hold for two years.
Smits and Lichon had each accused Morse of forcing himself into her personal space when she was alone, but there was no evidence to support these accusations. The Court of Claims ruled that Smits’ allegations were unsubstantiated and did not warrant further action. The case against Morse was dismissed because the allegations were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The case against Morse was never brought before the jury for consideration. The Court of Claims found that Smith had no right to a trial and that it would have been too expensive to bring one.
In addition to the seven cases filed against Morse by Smits and Lichon, he has also faced lawsuits by a former receptionist who had accused Morse of forcing himself into her personal space when she was alone in his law office. Another former receptionist alleged that Morse inappropriately touched her while at work. She claimed that this occurred after she requested that she be allowed to see the bills that he submitted for an insurance claim. The former receptionist’s suit was dismissed because she was unable to produce any evidence of her claim. Despite the dismissal, the Law Society filed a suit against Morse against him for the receptionist’s allegations.
Lawyer Mark Wagenberg of Wagenberg Law Offices in Ann Arbor said that the Court of Claims is the last place to decide whether or not the allegations against Morse should go forward. “These are matters that are best tried in a court of law.” If someone is charged with sexual assault in a state that does not allow for a trial, the charges can only be brought to a jury. If a judge rules that the allegations against Morse should be tried in court, the case will go to trial, where the jury is able to make a determination on whether or not the allegations against Morse should be considered in a criminal case or a civil court.
“Cases like this are usually brought in an attempt to have the charges against you dismissed,” said Wagenberg. “The case will go to trial because of the nature of the charges, and if they are not dismissed, the charges become a legal matter and therefore, the person must defend themselves in court.”