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'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 6, Episode 19

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

One minute you're on top, and the next you're on the bottom. Alicia barely even got a chance to get her new State's Attorney seat warm before allegations of voting fraud threatens her position. Meanwhile, Diane faces losing her law license for something she didn't even know about.

Here's what you need to know from last night's episode, entitled "Winning Ugly":

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 6, Episode 19
"Winning Ugly"

Legal References:

More Legal Analysis of CBS' "The Good Wife":

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Next Post in This Series:

  • Season 6, Episode 20 (Airs 04/19/15)

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert):

Last week, we saw journalist Petra Moritz accuse Alicia of possible voter fraud right before the episode ended. This week, the election board is investigating. Allegations claim that a touch screen error on voting machines registered votes for Frank Prady as votes for Alicia. The board found a microchip hacking device inserted into 40 voting machines.

Frank Prady, represented by Martin Parillo, wants a recount of the votes. The Democratic Party absolutely does not want a recount because it could also threaten the party's senate super majority. To avoid this, the party wants Alicia to withdraw, promising her a cushy appointment somewhere else. She refuses.

Back at the law firm, Diane learns that the metadata evidence she presented in court was fake. Kalinda had tampered with the evidence to make it look like Detective Prima deleted exculpatory evidence.

At the board hearing, Alicia played a voice recording of a conversation she had with Ernie Noland, who had previously tried to bribe her. Parillo strenuously objects to the recording, saying that it's illegal. Alicia's lawyer points out that Illinois Supreme Court case People v. Clark made it legal to record a conversation as long as one party in the conversation consents. This is called one party consent.

While most states have one party consent laws, some states, such as California, Connecticut, and Delaware have two party consent laws. In these states, it is illegal to record a confidential conversation unless all parties to the conversation agree to be recorded. Conversations that are confidential include those where the party has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Disbarrable Offense: Practicing law is a privilege, not a right. When an attorney commits an ethics violation, she may lose her license to practice law, also called being disbarred. Most ethical violations only result in censure or a suspension. Attorneys are usually only disbarred for very egregious violations.

Diane believes she's going to be disbarred for presenting false evidence. In a prior episode, Finn tells Kalinda that it doesn't matter if the attorney didn't know that the evidence was fake or false; she will be disbarred regardless.

Actually, Section 3.3 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct states, "A lawyer shall not offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures." Offering false evidence isn't the end all that Diane and Finn fear. A lawyer is allowed to fix her mistake if she in fact did not discover that evidence was false until after she presented in court.

In Diane's case, she didn't know the evidence was faked. Once she learned about the fake evidence, she took steps to admit the fact to the court. She probably wouldn't be disbarred for this.

Poor Diane can probably breathe a sigh of relief about her disbarment fears. However, it's not looking pretty for Alicia.

What did you think of this week's episode of "The Good Wife"? Is the show guilty of making any legal mistakes? Check back here for more legal recaps of "The Good Wife," and send us a tweet at @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #TheGoodWife.

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