Judge signs off on agreement over evidence in admissions scandal

A federal judge signed off on an agreement on Thursday between prosecutors and defense attorneys representing Lori Loughlin and other accused parents on how to handle evidence in the college admissions scandal case.

The legal teams have been battling in court filings over how to handle the distribution and sealing of vast amounts of discovery materials — some of which include sensitive information on minors and health records — for the past two weeks.

On April 24, 17 of the parents charged, including Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, filed a motion claiming that the defendants have not received any of the evidence against them.

The judge in the case had ordered the legal teams to come to an agreement by Thursday on how to proceed.

Both sides reached an agreement to keep discovery materials sealed that include any reference to a child; any health information, including mental health or psychological health information; and any reference to a client who hasn’t been charged.

That also includes materials with any college applications, including grades, test scores and essays (both draft and final), any academic records or information containing academic records and any materials on the legal process still under seal, including affidavits.

With privacy concerns around much of the content, court filings show that the defense attorneys were concerned that their clients would not have adequate access to the evidence against them.

For example, prosecutors had initially requested that defendants only view evidence in their attorneys’ offices.

The protective order agreed to by prosecutors and defense attorneys indicates that “defendants may maintain one physical and/or electronic copy of the Discovery Materials, and Defense Team members and defendants may exchange Discovery Materials via e-mail.” It also indicates that defense attorneys “may take reasonable steps necessary to load the Discovery Materials onto secure servers or networks or password-protected encrypted electronic drives from which the Defense Team and defendants may access, review, download, print and copy the Discovery Materials.”

The agreement also emphasizes that individuals who have access to the discovery are not permitted “to further disseminate or further disclose any such information” beyond people authorized to view it.

A group of defendants, including Loughlin and Gianulli, requested and were granted an additional provision that after 60 days, materials “that specifically reference or relate to that defendant or any of the defendant’s family members” be exempt from the protective order.