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Denise Langford Morris
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Denise Langford Morris

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Class Action & Mass Tort
Employment Law
Entertainment & Sports
Governmental & Public Agency
Higher Education & Title IX
Product Liability
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Denise Langford Morris, Retired Judge, Oakland County Circuit Court, joined JAMS in Detroit in 2022 after serving on the Oakland County (Michigan) bench for 30 years. Judge Langford Morris was the first African American and the first female dean of the Oakland County bench since its inception in 1848. During her tenure on the bench, she presided over thousands of civil, business, family and criminal cases, including jury and bench trials. She managed every aspect of the cases assigned to her from filing to post judgment in a AAA-bond-rated county of over 1.2 million people. Judge Langford Morris retired as the first African American chief judge pro tempore to serve on the court.

Judge Langford Morris is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Civil Division, where she managed cases involving condemnation, premises liability, auto negligence, employment defense, wrongful discharge, fraud and Bivens actions. In addition, she has extensive trial practice as a private practitioner in the areas of insurance defense, municipal defense, products liability, construction accident defense, and premises liability. She also has extensive felony criminal trial experience as an assistant Oakland County prosecutor in all types of cases.

Judge Langford Morris is known at home and abroad for her dedication to the rule of law and for her ability to work with parties from all walks of life. She is adept at carving out mutually agreeable solutions to intractable problems and believes that mediated settlements offer parties the best chance at solving disputes. She is known for her patience, perseverance and integrity in seeking resolution while parties are still in control.

Representative Matters

  • Appellate Opinions
      • Goldstein v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., 218 Mich. App. 105 (1996)
      • Dohanyos v. Detrex Corp., 217 Mich. App. 171 (1996) (Holding that arbitrators involved in statutory arbitration derive their powers from the contract providing for arbitration and are bound to act within its terms)
  • Business Commercial
      • Arbitrated multiple, consumer credit disputes, including breach of cardholder agreements collections actions, Fair Credit Reporting Act dispute of debt validity and default arbitration.
      • Appointed sole arbitrator over independent service provider breach of contract dispute with multinational transportation business involving Last Mile Delivery.
      • Arbitrated to Award Breach of Contract, Conversio, consumer Fair Credit Reporting Act dispute with national loan company.
      • Neutral Tripartite Analysis evaluation of multi-billion-dollar business dispute involving tortious interference, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, and Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act.
      • Arbitrated to Award breach of attorney fee contract dispute involving high level employee termination resolution package breakdown.
      • Arbitrated to Award business dispute between National Property Rehabilitation company and business contactor involving two housing renovation contracts.
      • Appointed sole Emergency Arbitrator on Cannabis manufacturing companies’ interstate contract dispute.
      • Presided over and adjudicated Breach of Employment Contract of a senior marketing executive at a major consumer goods retail chain.
      • Presided over multiple commission actions involving violation of Sales Representative Commission Act, where a sales representative for a parts supplier-maintained contracts with the Big Three automobile manufacturers to acquire bid opportunities.
      • Presided over personal injury and breach of contract claims alleged because of alleged substandard roof repair resulting in emotional distress and caused toxic black mold to grow and in turn led to sinus and upper respiratory illness. (Williams v V.R. Thomas Construction Co.)
      • Presided over Contract dispute regarding patent and technology for a novel way of making plastic polymers called powder impression molding (PIM), licensing agreements granted exclusive rights to market PIM for product development to eastern hemisphere countries in exchange for royalties on products developed assisted in the resolution of the dispute following a finding that the license agreement had no requirement for transfer of know-how.
      • Presided over national training center and mega union committee authorized pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act involving a business dispute with multiple executives accused of fraud, unjust enrichment, concealment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, credit card schemes and for personal/criminal gain. (UAW=Chrysler Skill Development Program v IACOBELLI et al)
      • Presided over case involving Head coach suspension and subsequent termination and denial of professional team offer of employment for violations of Mi State Youth Soccer Associations rules (CHRISTENSEN V Soccer Ass’n, 218 Mich App. 37, 1996).
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
      • Arbitrated to Award individual Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Trust involving Mesothelioma.
      • Mediated dozens of individual banking- related mass filings alleging improper customer sales tactics.
      • Presided over mass property tax foreclosure “just compensation” case changing precedent and introduced an orderly process for future surplus proceeds from governmental entities paid to foreclosed upon property owners. (Rafaeli, LLC v Oakland County)
      • Presided over putative class action on behalf of government employees alleging negligence and public nuisance claiming they suffered various physical ailments because of exposure to toxic chemicals, including hazardous levels of methane gas and volatile organic compounds while working at the facility. (Powell-Murphy v Revitalizing Auto COMMUNITIES Environmental Trust 333 Mich App 234
      • Advocated in Civil Rights class action involving urban dislocation and demolition of housing for Black residents under city’s governmental program of renewal. (Garrett v Hamtramyck).
      • Advocated Data Processors class action involving internal Revenue Service as AUSA.
  • Employment Law
      • Arbitrated and adjudicated multiple cases involving software developers, product representatives, service delivery managers, program managers, involving Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) against multinational technology company.
      • Arbitrated decedent employee/manager negligence, wrongful death and more involving National Food Franchise alleging a special relationship in complex death case.
      • Appointed sole arbitrator over race and national origin discrimination involving wrongful termination and major Hospital Facility.
      • Appointed sole arbitrator in alleged Financial Co. abrupt termination of wage and hour employee in violation of WARN Act.
      • Mediated dispute involving Healthcare CEO, Physician Healthcare group and University President and Bd of Directors and wrongful retaliatory discharge, Eliott Larsen Civil Rights Act violations and ADEA and more.
      • Mediated allegations of wrongful termination, violation of Family Leave Act (FMLA), violation of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), violation of Designated Notice requirements and retaliatory discharge involving major Auto Sub-Assembly Manufacturing Co.
      • Mediated Title VII and Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act violations including sexual harassment, quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment against Wealth Management Retirement Planning to settlement Company CEO.
      • Mediated wrongful discharge Whistleblower Protection Act (“WPA”), wrongful retaliation for filing complaint with Michigan’s Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) and in retaliation for violation of Family Leave Act (“FMLA”) involving national multi-billion-dollar hospital.
      • Mediated allegations of wrongful discharge, race discrimination and harassment in violation of Eliott Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”), Disability discrimination and Failure to Accommodate in violation of Persons with Disability Civil Rights Act (“PDCRA), and violation and retaliation under the Workers Disability Compensation Act (“WDCA” involving national hospital.
      • Presided over multiple employment matters including Whistle Blower Protection (WPA”) harassment/hostile work environment, jury trial where municipal tax accessor terminated involving violations of State Law to the State Tax Commission. (on first Jams Bio)
      • Presided over case where law enforcement alleged hostile work environment, retaliatory discharge, discrimination following unwelcome comments during training/ role-playing/ confrontational scenarios that included offensive language.
      • Presided over and adjudicated Breach of Employment contract of a senior marketing executive at a major consumer goods retail chain. (on first jams bio)
      • Advocated as Assistant United States Attorney multiple cases involving allegations of wrongful discharge, Title VII, harassment hostile work involvement and more by employees of multiple agencies including the US Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service and more.

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Fellow of the Academy of Court-Appointed Neutrals (ACAN)
  • American Bar Association
    • Delegate, ABA House of Delegates (representing the National Bar Association), 2018–2024
    • Member, State Bar of Michigan Delegation to the ABA, 2018–2022
    • Member, Judicial Division, National Conference of State Trial Judges, 2016–2024
      • Chair-Elect, 2023-2024
      • Vice-Chair, 2022-2023
      • Secretary, 2021-2022
      • Director and Co-Chair, 2018–2020
      • Co-Chair, Membership Committee, 2022-2024
      • Member, Judicial Division Technology Committee, 2018–2024
  • Member, Commission on the American Jury, 2020–2024
    • Chair, 2020-2021
  • Member (representing the National Bar Association), Legal Opportunities Scholarship Fund Commission, 2018–2022
  • Member, Africa Council, Rule of Law Initiative, 2018–2024
    • Chair, 2021-2024
  • Criminal Justice Section
    • Co-Executive Director, Equal Justice Division, 2016–2024
    • Member, International Committee, 2016–2024
    • Member, Women’s Task Force, 2018–2024
    • Co-Chair, Judicial Function Committee, 2017–2019
  • Member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
  • Member, Business Section Member, Criminal Justice Section Member, Litigation Section
  • Member, Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice
  • Member, National Bar Association (NBA), 1989–present
    • Chair, NBA Judicial Council, 2013–2014
    • Member, NBA Alternative Dispute Section
  • Member, Dean’s Advisory Board, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 2005–present
  • Dean of the Board, Secretary and Chair of Oral History and Portraits Committee, Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, 1995–present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Salvation Army William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, 2007–present
  • President, American Judicial Council Foundation, 2021–2024
  • Board Member, Association of Black Judges of Michigan, 1999–present
    • President, 2005–2006
  • Member, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM), 1995–present
    • Board Member, 2009–2019
  • Member, National Association of Women Judges
  • Member, American Bar Foundation
  • State Director, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, 2011–2021
  • Member, Black Women Lawyers Bar Association Founding Member, D. Augustus Straker Bar Association Member, Wolverine Bar Association
  • Co-Chair and Chair, Ethics Committee, Association of Black Judges of Michigan, 2015–2022
  • Member, Pi Tau Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Member and Past Parliamentarian, The Links, Incorporated
  • Lifetime Member, Oakland County Branch, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Past Member, Mediation Rules Committee, Michigan Supreme Court
  • Board Member, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, 1999–2004
  • Member, Board of Trustees, University of Detroit Mercy, 2011–2019
    • Chair, Academic Affairs Committee, 2017–2019
  • Member, Governing Board, Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (includes Head Start), 1995–2005
  • Former Officer and Board Member, Child Abuse and Neglect Council, 1988–1994
  • Past Director, Haven Domestic Violence Shelter (Oakland County)

Selected Awards

  • Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee, Michigan Women Forward, 2023
  • Oakland County Democratic Party, Wings of Justice Award, 2023
  • Thurgood Marshall Award, National Bar Association, 2021
  • Living Legend Award, Region VI, National Bar Association, 2021
  • NBA Presidents’ Vincent Monroe Townsend, Jr. Legends Award, National Bar Association, 2021
  • Wiley A. Branton Award, National Bar Association, 2020
  • Judicial Excellence Award, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, 2019
  • Spirit of Humanity/Guardian of Justice Award, American Human Rights Council, 2019 (with Congressional endorsements by Senator Gary C. Peters and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell) Spirit of Detroit Award, Detroit City Council, 2019
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell, 2019
  • Justice Mary S. Coleman Award, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM), 2018
  • Justice Award, State Bar of Michigan Champion, 2007
  • Professionalism Award, Oakland County Bar Association, 1997

Background and Education

  • Judge; Oakland County Circuit Court; Pontiac, Michigan; 1992–2022
    • Chief Judge Pro Tempore, 2022
    • Domestic Relations, 1992–2000
    • General Civil Cases, 1992–2022
    • Business Cases, 1992–2013
    • General Criminal Cases, 1992–2022
  • Visiting Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals, 1996
  • Certificate, The Bolch Judicial Institute of Duke University School of Law, Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation, 2022
  • Certificate, National Computer Forensic Institute, Cyber-Investigative Techniques, Judicial Training, 2011
  • Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Division, Eastern District of Michigan, 1989–1992
  • Associate; Zamplas, Paskin, Nagi, Baxter, Johnson & Walker, P.C.; 1987–1989
    • Insurance defense, municipal defense, products liability, construction accident, condemnation, zoning, subrogation, auto negligence, pharmaceutical malpractice
  • Assistant Prosecutor, Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, 1984–1987
  • J.D., University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 1982
  • Investigative-Protective Social Worker, Michigan Department of Social Services, Child and Adult Protective Services, 1976–1984
  • M.A., cum laude, Guidance and Counseling, School of Education, Wayne State University, 1978
  • Medical Assistant, Medical Billing, Detroit Surgical Associates, P.C., 1976
  • Audit/Unit Buying Departments, Data Processing and Invoice Research, Sears Roebuck and Co., 1973–1976
  • B.A., School of Liberal Arts, Wayne State University, 1975
  • A.A., Phi Theta Kappa, Highland Park Community College, 1973


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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