Drew Peterson attorneys request new trial, claiming Brodsky botched case
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org November 16, 2012 12:20PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:21PM
Attorney Joel Brodsky’s hunger for publicity for himself and his famous client, Drew Peterson, likely influenced his decisions on Peterson’s murder case, Peterson’s current lawyers said Friday.
Focusing on book deals and reality shows instead of the best legal outcome for his client may land Brodsky on the witness stand in a hearing about his work, the lawyers said.
The attorneys for convicted wife-killer Peterson on Friday said they’re going ahead with a request to have his conviction thrown out in part on the basis of poor legal work by Brodsky, his former lead attorney.
Attorneys Steve Greenberg and David Peilet appeared in Will County court Friday morning for the first hearing in the case since Brodsky withdrew as one of Peterson’s lawyers last month. They filed a motion asking Judge Edward Burmila to throw out the jury’s verdict, or at least give Peterson a new trial.
The motion claims a number of errors on Brodsky’s part during the ex-Bolingbrook cop’s summer trial on charges he killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Among the gaffes they claim are Brodsky’s decision to put Harry Smith on the witness stand. A number of jurors cited Smith’s testimony, in which he recalled Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, telling him she knew details of how Peterson killed Savio, as key in their decision to convict Peterson.
Brodsky insists he did not make any legal errors during the trial, but said he stepped down to quiet the controversy sparked by a motion claiming he botched the case.
That motion was filed by attorney John Paul Carroll of Naperville, and listed 14 reasons why Brodsky allegedly failed in his representation of Peterson, including lying to his client. Peterson has denied the allegations in that motion.
Brodsky said Friday he consulted with an ethics attorney on everything he did with Peterson.
“It’s very typical (of a post-trial motion). Everybody tries to blame everybody else,” he said.
Throughout the five years Brodsky represented Peterson, he was operating under a conflict of interest, according to the motion filed Friday.
In December 2007, Brodsky and Peterson struck a deal with a publicist to get the duo photo ops and television appearances, magazine spreads and even product endorsements, including commercials.
The men also wanted the publicist, Glenn Selig with Selig Multimedia, to get them book and film deals.
By doing that, Brodsky allowed his “self-interest to pollute how the matter was handled, from the pre-trial media blitz to the trial itself,” the motion states.
Brodsky also prohibited attorneys from asking prospective jurors what they knew about the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, which left Peterson without a fair jury, the motion states.
The ineffective assistance claim may lead to an evidentiary hearing with testimony from Brodsky and possibly Greenberg and attorney Joe “Shark” Lopez, Peilet said.
The motion also criticizes Burmila’s decision to allow certain hearsay testimony into evidence, including the Rev. Neil Schori’s claims that Stacy Peterson told him she knew Peterson killed Savio.
Even the pre-trial hearsay hearing was “infected by ineffectiveness,” the motion states.
Judge Stephen White should not have admitted testimony from Smith or Schori at the hearsay hearing, as their conversations with Stacy Peterson were protected by privilege — because of their roles at attorney and clergyman — the motion states.
The fact that White was asked at that hearing to decide whether it was more likely than not Peterson killed Savio to prevent her from testifying violated Peterson’s right to remain silent, the motion states. In order to defend himself, Peterson would have had to waive that right.
Burmila on Friday took Peterson’s January sentencing date off the calendar, instead setting the case for a status update on Jan. 10. A date for an evidentiary hearing could be set then.