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The Daily Dish Relationships

Why Would Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli Waive Their Right to Separate Lawyers?

The couple continues to baffle the legal community with their choices in the college admissions scandal.

By Marianne Garvey
Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli

Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, want to present a "united front" in the Varsity Blues college scandal, so they've waived their right to separate lawyers.

“Giannulli and Loughlin are innocent of the charges brought against them and are eager to clear their names,” their lawyers argue in documents obtained and reported by Mercury News. “And they believe their interests will be advanced most effectively by presenting a united front against the Government’s baseless accusations.”

Loughlin seems to be confident they'll be found innocent, but some lawyers say think again.

"The chances that Lori will face jail are substantial," New Canaan, CT. criminal attorney Matthew M. Maddox told Personal Space.

"The chances that Lori will face jail are substantial," attorney Matthew M. Maddox told Personal Space.

s using the same lawyer smart for the couple? 

"The most common reason why co-defendants choose the same lawyer is because they’re getting a 'deal' on legal fees," he said. "That may not be an issue for these two, but you never know. It should go without saying that price is a very shortsighted reason to retain counsel,” Maddox said.

"Separately, these two defendants may think that presenting what appears to be a unified front is strategically clever in front of a prospective jury. They may believe that a husband and wife sticking together portrays transparency and sincerity, Maddox said.

"Naivete about an alleged scam to pay their kid’s way into college isn’t a powerful or emotional story and it doesn’t become more compelling simply because a husband and wife are both sitting next to the same lawyer. The strategy is a shallow one and is severely outweighed by their potential damage caused by waiving their rights to independent counsel, said Maddox."

Does the same lawyer mean they would go to trial together or still be tried separately?  

" It appears as if both will be tried together, as the allegations filed against them are similar in nature and involve, for the most part, the same witnesses,” San Diego criminal attorney David P. Shapiro said.

“Having the same lawyer is usually not sound practice, as each defendant is entitled to have their own attorney who can advocate for his or her client’s best interests, even if that is at the expense of another defendant.  There is also the lack of privileged communications between each individual defendant and the attorney(s) who represent them,” Shapiro added.

“The two, pretty much from the outset, have gone out of their way to buck the “normal way of doing things,” first from not pleading guilty when so many others have, to now attempting to share the same attorney.  This is a calculated risk few defendants facing serious federal crimes are willing to take,” Shapiro said.

Ultimately, Maddox said the couple is being "foolish." 

"It is very foolish to waive one’s right to independent counsel in a criminal matter," he said. "The nature of trial is that evidence changes, testimony changes, and so do emotions and priorities. And if either defendant decides to offer evidence against the other, changing attorneys later will be extremely damaging to at least one of them, if not both. "From an outsider looking in, there seems to be a cavalier attitude about the criminal justice system and trial and a misapprehension that a mildly engaging screenplay will suffice for criminal defense strategy."

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