Courtroom shocker: Drew Peterson’s attorney withdraws
BY DAN ROZEK AND JANET LUNDQUIST Staff Reporters October 30, 2012 9:54AM
Drew Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky speaks to the media as the jury begins deliberations Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: December 1, 2012 4:36PM
After weeks of fighting and fingerpointing among Drew Peterson’s lawyers, long-time lead attorney Joel Brodsky withdrew Tuesday from the notorious murder case.
But Brodsky, who had represented Peterson for nearly five years, said he took the dramatic step only to help his former client as Peterson tries to overturn his September murder conviction.
“I’m doing what is in my client’s best interest, I’m doing what’s in Drew’s best interest — period, end of story,” Brodsky said, insisting he hadn’t been fired by the 58-year-old former Bolingbrook cop and convicted wife-killer.
The move follows public bickering between Brodsky and former co-counsel Steve Greenberg, as well as a surprise request for a new trial filed on Peterson’s behalf that argued Brodsky provided ineffective assistance as Peterson’s top attorney.
That motion for a new trial listed 14 reasons why Brodsky allegedly failed in his representation of Peterson, including lying to his client, encouraging Peterson to generate as much publicity as possible, and in calling divorce attorney Harry Smith as a trial witness against Peterson’s wishes. Several jurors later said Smith’s testimony prompted them to convict Peterson of drowning third wife Kathleen Savio in 2004.
In an unusual twist, though, Peterson told Judge Edward Burmila he did not agree with the allegations raised against Brodsky in the motion brought by attorney John Paul Carroll of Naperville, who had been representing Peterson only on issues related to his police pension.
Carroll wasn’t in court Tuesday, but attorneys David Peilet and John Heiderscheidt stepped up to help represent Peterson, who faces up to 60 years in prison for Savio’s drowning death.
Peilet, who will serve as Peterson’s new lead attorney, echoed Brodsky’s claim that he wasn’t dumped from the case.
“He was not discharged, he was not fired,” said Peilet.
Still, Peilet said as he prepares a motion seeking to toss out Peterson’s murder conviction, he might include allegations that Brodsky failed to provide competent counsel to Peterson.
“We are not going to close the door to pursuing that issue,” Peilet said.
Brodsky insisted he didn’t make any crucial mistakes during the trial, but said he stepped down because the allegations made against him were delaying efforts to prepare for a Dec. 19 hearing to overturn Peterson’s conviction.
“There’s no errors. I did not do anything ineffective,” Brodsky said. “But what we have here is a situation where unfounded allegations that have been made are interfering with the movement of this case.”
Despite the reshuffling of Peterson’s legal team, attorney Steve Greenberg — whom Peterson at Brodsky’s urging tried to fire after his conviction — apparently will remain on the case. So will Chicago attorney Joe Lopez.
While Greenberg and Brodsky frequently battled over trial strategy and media appearances, Greenberg on Tuesday had kind words for Brodsky.
“No one knew the case better or worked harder than he did,” Greenberg said, adding he is optimistic Burmila will overturn Peterson’s conviction.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow predicted Peterson won’t win a new trial by claiming he was poorly represented by Brodsky and his five other attorneys.
“I’m not the least bit concerned,” Glasgow said.
At least one thing will be different on the defense team: Peilet said Peterson’s attorneys are done arguing outside the courtroom.
“There’s no more public fingerpointing,” Peilet said.