Professor an expert on drunk driving issues


 By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News
Attorney Michael V. Morgan’s first job after law school was as a hearing officer for the Michigan Department of State.
“If a person refused a breath test at a DUI arrest, you had to appear before my board.  I quickly realized DUI would be the ‘next big thing,’” he says. 
A leading authority on drunk driving defense and prosecution, and an author and speaker on the subject, Morgan mentors senior law students as an adjunct professor in the Criminal Trial Clinic at his alma mater, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. 
It’s a far cry from his own student days at Austin Prep in Detroit, and his undergrad years at the University of Detroit—before buckling down to his studies at UDM Law.
“Having spent much of my youth chasing a good time, I finally realized law school would require a more dutiful attention to my studies,” he says. “Law would allow me to fight for those who truly needed help.”
After his job with the state, Morgan went on to hang out his shingle as a solo practitioner in Detroit and then Troy, specializing in serious traffic offenses and driver licensing, and writing bar articles on drunk driving and driver licensing.
In the mid ‘70s, the Institute of Legal Education (ICLE) in Ann Arbor invited him to lecture at its Basic Skills course. Specialized drunk driving seminars soon followed and in 1978 Morgan was asked to write a defense manual for Michigan lawyers on DUI. Zeroing in on two other top DUI attorneys, Bob Larin of Bloomfield Hills and Tom Casselman of Marquette, to co-write the book, the trio went on to write and lecture together for several decades for ICLE.
As a result, Morgan co-authored “Drunk Driving Cases: A Manual for Michigan Lawyers” and “Defense of Drunk Driving Cases in Michigan.” He was the editor of the first, second, third, and fourth editions of “Michigan Drunk Driving Law and Practice” from ICLE and is a chapter author for the fifth edition. The book includes “Super Drunk Driving” charges, and covers breath and blood tests, evidentiary challenges, trial, sentencing, and license appeals.
He was also a contributor to the first five editions of ICLE’s “Michigan Basic Practice Handbook.” 
He has lectured extensively for ICLE on drinking and driving law, driver licensing procedures and practice. In 1983, he gave the American Bar Association’s First National Drunk Driving seminars, in Denver and Washington, D.C., and has served as a moderator on all drunk driving seminars since 1987.
A former chairperson of the License Appeal Board of the Michigan Department of State, Morgan’s expertise in his specialized field has landed him in “Who’s Who in American Law”; and in 2004 he was honored with the State Bar of Michigan’s Champion of Justice Award. 
In 2007 Morgan was struck with leukemia.
“After exhausting chemotherapy, I decided to close the doors to my law practice and smell the roses for as long as I could,” he says.  
As one door closed, another opened. Mark Gordon, then the dean of UDM Law, mentioned to him that the school’s Criminal Clinic needed revamping.
“It was the Criminal Clinic course I had taken in 1972 under Professor Gil Donohue that had given me the confidence to go forth and meet the challenges of my first decade in law—so I was more than ready to bring it back to life,” Morgan says.
Under the direction of UDM Clinical Director Michael Bryce, the clinic began with one court in Harper Woods and later expanded to Eastpointe, Troy, and Plymouth. Morgan has partnered with Professor (and former chief Wayne County prosecutor) Richard Kriscuinas for the last 5 years, and between them, the duo brings more than 70 years of criminal law experience to the clinic. 
Students taking part in the clinic program typically act as public defenders under MCR 8.120 handling all manner of ordinance violations: traffic, drugs, shoplifting, domestic violence and more, applying their classroom knowledge of criminal law and evidence to the real world.
“Their transformation from students to true advocates is a beautiful thing to behold,” Morgan says.  
Morgan, who has served on the U-D National Alumni Board, U-D Titan Board, and UDM Law Alumni Board, where he served as president from 2005 to 2006, was honored in 2009 with the UDM Law Alumni’s “Time and Talent” award.
In his leisure time, he and his wife Susan enjoy traveling. He is an ardent fan—and 40-year season-ticket holder—of UDM basketball. And he is still smelling the roses.