Daily Briefs

State Supreme Court takes case involving lawyer Mike Morse

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court is stepping into a legal dispute involving a popular personal-injury lawyer who is accused of sexually assaulting two women.

Mike Morse is accused of inappropriately grabbing a paralegal and a receptionist, and making sexual comments. The issue for the Supreme Court is whether the claims should go through private arbitration or proceed publicly as lawsuits in Oakland and Wayne county courts.

The Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in the months ahead.

Morse denies the allegations. He also says the claims must go through arbitration under an agreement signed by employees at his firm. But the state appeals court in March disagreed, saying arbitration behind closed doors for assault allegations “would effectively perpetuate a culture that silences victims.”

The case is being closely watched by employment lawyers.


Ex-MSU medical resident sentenced in sex assault

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan State University medical resident who authorities say sexually assaulted two women at a university health center and forced them to watch videos of him masturbating has been sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison.

The Lansing State Journal reports 33-year-old Michael Phinn of Fowlerville was sentenced Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to charges including second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Phinn told the court he’s “not a manipulator or a monster,” and instead blamed the widespread availability of pornography. He says he “misinterpreted months of flirtatious behavior.”

Phinn originally faced harsher charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Phinn worked in the MSU Neurology Clinic and police say the women weren’t his patients. He was charged in October, about a week after the women reported allegations to police.


U.S. government sues Detroit suburb over mosque rejection

TROY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is suing a Detroit suburb after a Muslim group failed to win local approval to turn a commercial building into a mosque and community center.

The government says Troy is violating a federal law that’s intended to accommodate religious groups. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says the lawsuit is an effort to “protect the religious liberties of all people.”

Troy’s zoning code requires certain setbacks from other properties. In the case of Adam Community Center, officials rejected requests for waivers. The government notes that variances wouldn’t be required if the restaurant was turned into a non-religious building.

A message seeking comment was sent to Troy’s attorney Thursday. The city already is being sued by the Muslim group. In a court filing, Troy says setback requirements protect neighbors against “adverse impacts.”