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'The Good Wife': Good Law? -- Season 7, Episode 20

Only "The Good Wife" could use a coming together to show just how far its characters are fracturing apart. Howard and Jackie's Ketubah signing at Alicia's condo becomes a discussion of divorce, decampment, and a dissolving criminal case. Who's in love with whom? Who's in Diane's new female-led firm? Who's out on their own, and who's out of the woods in Peter's corruption investigation?

Here are the legal ins and outs of last night's episode, "Party."

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 7, Episode 20
"Landing"

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  • Season 7, Episode 21 (Airs 5/1/2016)

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert):

With most of the emotion action coming at Alicia's party, Jason is busy pulling the criminal case against Peter out of the background and into the fore. What originally looks like Peter meddling in a murder trial to help a donor's son becomes an incompetent (at best) or crooked (at worse) crime lab technician spoiling key evidence in the case.

Meanwhile, Alicia and Peter's split becomes common knowledge, Zack is engaged an on his way to Paris, Grace is upset an on her way to college, and Jason has one foot in his relationship with Alicia and one foot on the way to god knows where. And don't even get us started on the bizarre made-for-TV movie on in the background or the show despoiling The Pixies with an awful "Wave of Mutilation" cover. Let's instead focus on the criminal case.

Legal Roots:

Why did Peter keep blood evidence out of a murder trial? Why did he check the now-missing bullets out of the crime lab? All the early speculation, and the bulk of the case against Peter, pointed to the former state's attorney covering for a campaign donor's son. By the end of the episode, it turns out the crime lab tech had screwed up a few of Peter's prior prosecutions, and this one as well. Sadly, forensic evidence mishandling, mistakes, and misuse are all too common, and in some cases have led to false confessions. But Peter remains adamant and refused any plea bargain in his corruption case.

Legal Fiction:

but Peter isn't the only one at risk in the corruption investigation: Cary hired Louis Canning as his attorney, and Canning quickly tries to mount a coordinated defense trying to implicate Peter, going so far as to encourage Alicia to roll over on her (still) husband. Eli hired Diane to represent him, and with Mike Tascioni bowing out of repping Peter, may ask her to be Peter's trial lawyer. If Eli really thinks he's in trouble, this would be a bad idea. While joint representation (one lawyer representing two criminal defendants in the same case) can and does happen, it is heavily discouraged. As the ABA notes in its Rules of Professional Conduct: "The potential for conflict of interest in representing multiple defendants in a criminal case is so grave that ordinarily a lawyer should decline to represent more than one codefendant."

Legal Babble:

"One-lawyer divorce." Not every divorce needs to be a knock-down drag-out affair -- there are ways that a divorce can be (relatively) fast, cheap, and painless. Obviously it helps if both parties are amicable to the divorce, and Alicia and Peter admit that they don't want to fight each other. They agree to forgo hiring their own lawyers and have one attorney represent them both. Considering everything at stake for each in the divorce, it's highly unlikely they would share an attorney, but if they do, perhaps they can end their marriage on a positive note.

Legal Verdict:

Two episodes to go to find out just how deep the fissures in the Florrick family will run. Both Alicia and Peter feel sad about their divorce, so could Peter wining his case and Jason's interest in moving every year have them rethinking the decision? Or will the divorce and the empty nest mean Alicia will wander the earth with Jason? We'll find out more next week.

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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