The prosecution has raised an objection to Clare Bronfman retaining famed lawyer Mark Geragos as her attorney because his daughter, Teny Geragos, represents codefendant Keith Raniere.
They claim there is a potential conflict.
Raniere’s attorneys, Mark Agniflo -his lead attorney – and his associate, Teny Geragos, have replied that there is no conflict. In a letter to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, Agniflo and Teny Geragos write:
Judge Garaufis appointed attorney Avraham C. Moskowitz to represent Raniere at the previous Curcio Hearing to insure that Raniere understood the possible conflict arising from the fact that Clare Bronfman is paying, through a trust fund, for attorneys for Raniere [and other codefendants] which might cause a conflict of interest.
At that Curcio Hearing, held last month, Raniere said he was satisfied that his attorneys would represent him faithfully despite being paid by Bronfman.
if there is another Curcio hearing, Moskowitz is expected to represent Raniere, but is not expected to represent Raniere beyond Curcio hearings.
The prosecution’s objections arise from from what they says is the “risk” that father and daughter’s “loyalty may be impaired.”
“[T]here is a risk”, the prosecution writes, “that they could reveal client confidences to one another. There is also a risk that the relationship between them could affect their legal advice, because either one of them may be incentivized to make strategic decisions that would not be in his or her own client’s best interests out of fear of harming the other’s client or the other’s professional reputation. This is especially true given the high profile nature of this case. As examples, strategic advice that could be affected by the relationship between Teny Geragos and Mark Geragos might include: (1) whether one client should seek leniency by cooperating against the other, (2) whether a client should testify in his or her own
defense at trial, where such testimony might implicate the other, (3) whether to elicit testimony
from witnesses on direct or cross-examination if that testimony might implicate the other’s
client, and (4) whether to make motions that could be adverse to the other client’s interests.”
The judge will ultimately decide whether to conduct a Curcio Hearing on this potential conflict, as well as if there is a conflict too great to permit father and daughter to represent the two codefendants.
If both Raniere and Clare Bronfman assert on the record that they understand the conflict, and both attorneys assert they will faithfully represent their clients, the judge, I suspect, would be hard pressed to deny them the attorneys of their choice.
If the judge prohibits the defendants from having counsel of their choice, it almost automatically sets up significant grounds for appeal if the defendants are convicted.
If the judge holds a Curcio Hearing and they assert they understand the potential conflict, the grounds for appeal are weaker.