A judge on Thursday denied a request by Geoffrey Fieger to force fellow attorney Mike Morse to preserve all his text messages, cell phone photos and social media messages from the past three years for a $10-million civil lawsuit concerning groping allegations.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Phyllis McMillen said the request by Fieger, who represents a Novi woman who claims Morse grabbed her breast last month at a restaurant, was too broad and beyond the scope of the allegations in the woman's complaint.
In addition, Fieger failed to prove that Morse would destroy evidence that would be relevant in the case. Any such destruction "would constitute not only a violation of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (for attorneys), but potentially criminal laws," McMillen wrote.
Fieger sought to have the court compel Morse to save his past texts, photos and computer files, contending that without a court order, Morse might delete evidence of exchanges with other women that could "corroborate the fact that defendant Morse has a proclivity of making unwanted sexual advances upon women."
Morse has emphatically denied the allegations of Fieger's client, Renee Swain, who claims Morse sexually assaulted her the night of April 6 at Steven Lelli's Inn on the Green in Farmington Hills by grabbing her breast while taking a selfie photograph with her, asking if that made the photo better.
Morse says those allegations are "outrageous and completely false" and are an attempt by Fieger's law firm to extort money from him and besmirch his reputation.
McMillen also wrote that Fieger's request, which would have prohibited Morse from even altering his hard drives or social media accounts, would essentially prevent Morse from doing any work on his computers or cell phone.
The judge added that "forensic discovery" could be used to determine if any message deletions have taken place.
Morse's attorney in the case, I.W. Winsten of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, declined comment on the judge's decision.
Fieger did not immediately return an e-mail Thursday night.
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