Schuette’s office unlikely to intervene in Morse suit

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News
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Lansing — Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is unlikely to seek criminal charges against Southfield lawyer Michael Morse, who is accused in a lawsuit of groping a Novi woman, a spokeswoman suggested Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Southfield-based lawyer Geoffrey Fieger released an audio tape in which Morse apologizes to Renee Swain, a 47-year-old Novi resident who has accused Morse of groping her.

Fieger said at the Tuesday news conference he planned to ask Schuette to look into the issue by sending him a transcript of the recording.

The release of the audio came a day after Genesee Couty Prosecuting Attorney David Leyton declined to file criminal charges against Morse, saying “the case is better suited for the civil arena.” Schuette’s office referred the case to Leyton, an “independent prosecutor,” after Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper recused herself, Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said Wednesday.

“The Genesee County Prosecutor reviewed the case and made a decision based on the evidence that was available,” Bitely said. “As always, we have confidence in Michigan’s prosecutors to make decisions.”

Schuette’s office has not received any documents from Fieger, she said.

Bitely said thousands of cases are routinely presented to Schuette’s office every year.

“This is a process that goes on regularly going back to the days of Frank Kelley,” she said in an email, referring to Michigan’s attorney general from 1961 to 1999.

Swain is one of five women represented by Fieger who accuse Morse of unwanted physical advances. Morse has denied the accusations.

On Tuesday, Morse’s attorney Deborah Gordon said Morse denies responsibility and the recording is not new.

“Mike was shocked when Ms. Swain filed a police report based on an alleged momentary touch made in a busy, public restaurant, where his girlfriend and other friends were present,” Gordon said in a statement. “This so-called audio apology is not newly discovered and has been found lacking as grounds for any criminal complaint.”

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