Will Drew Peterson’s murder trial be dismissed because of Harry Smith?

Last Friday, Drew Peterson appeared in court for the first time in almost two years. A new Judge was appointed to his trial for murder and his defense team also filed a number of motions which were then impounded.

One of the motions asked that the murder charges be dropped because of the testimony offered by Wheaton attorney, Harry Smith. Smith testified at the Grand Jury which indicted Peterson, and again later at a pre-trail hearing to test the admissibility of fifteen hearsay statements.

Peterson’s team says that by offering up testimony regarding Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson, that Smith violated attorney-client confidentiality and called it the “worst breach of attorney ethics”. They feel the breach is so grievous that not only should Smith not be allowed to testify at Drew’s trial, but that Peterson’s entire case should be thrown out of court.

Since Smith was Savio’s attorney, we can only presume that she is the client in question here, and there is no doubt that Smith represented Kathleen during her divorce from Drew Peterson, but their relationship ended abruptly with her death in the 2004, and he was officially dropped when the executor of Kathleen’s will (Peterson’s Uncle, James Carroll) informed him that his services were no longer needed.

Seeing as Kathleen had asked Smith to go to police in the event that she died and to tell them that Drew had killed her, it would seem that by talking, he is only fulfilling his obligations to his client, rather than breaching any confidentiality.

Of course it’s easy to see why Peterson’s defense would try to keep Harry Smith from testifying. He has a good deal of compelling testimony to deliver on the stand. He will testify that Stacy Peterson (not a client of his) spoke with him twice in the week before her disappearance. She told him that she wanted to divorce Drew Peterson and asked if she could get more money from the divorce if she threatened to tell the police what she knew about Peterson killing his third wife. She told him that “Drew was pissed because he thinks I told (his son) Tom that he killed Kathy”. Peterson told the media that he was “shocked” to learn that Stacy had had discussions with Attorney Smith.

Smith may also testify that at the time of Kathleen’s death, things were not going well for Drew Peterson in the later stages of his contentious divorce from Savio, and that Peterson was aware of it and angry. Smith testified at the pre-trial hearing that shortly before Savio was found dead, a judge had told him and Peterson’s attorney that she was about to recommend that Savio be allowed to keep the couple’s Bolingbrook home, receive a share of his police pension, child support and some money from the sale of a bar the couple had owned.

In march of 2008, Harry Smith gave a lengthy interview to Roe Conn on WLS-AM 890 in Chicago. At that time he could not mention what Stacy had told him about Drew killing Kathleen, but he gave a full account of his dealings with both Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson. It’s a good listen.

Acandyrose has a complete transcript of the above interview.

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14 thoughts on “Will Drew Peterson’s murder trial be dismissed because of Harry Smith?

  1. Case Summary Details
    Case Number 2011MR000291
    Next Court Date: 08-02-2012
    File Date 03-04-2011
    Next Court Location: COURTROOM 2005
    Case Title: STEPHEN PETERSON -VS- VILLAGE OF OAK BROOK ILLINOIS
    Next Court Time: 09:30 AM

    JUDICIAL REVIEW OF A DECISION OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY OTHER THAN A TAX COMMISSION

  2. If Kathleen asked him to go to the police in event of her death, I would hope that was the equivalent of waiving the privilege and his testimony would be allowed.

    I don”t think the same applies in Stacy’s though since I think she had only contacted him in regard to divorcing Drew. She disappeared and never had opportunity to discuss further.

  3. Hi Noway, and Happy Mother’s day!

    I’m on the same page with you here regarding Kathleen Savio. Besides, wouldn’t it be up to Kathleen (or someone representing her) to complain if it was felt that her lawyer had committed a breach of ethics? Are Drew’s lawyers trying to represent Kathleen now??

    Also, Smith did say that Stacy was not his client. He only spoke to here twice as sort of a preliminary consultation. So if that is correct, there was no attorney-client privilege to violate. Still, same as above. It’s ludicrous for Drew’s defense team to act as if they can complain on her behalf.

    BTW, I notice that Smith also stated in the WLS interview that the documents he provided to the ISP were all in the public record.

  4. Somewhere I read that if a person sought to be a client, privilige exist but IDK for sure whether the phone calls between SP and HS qualify.

  5. I don’t know either but it seems like it could. I always assumed that the privileged parts would be any admission on the part of the client(to-be) of guilt related to a crime, rather than anything implicating another person.

    Whatever the case, I’m sure Judge Burmila will have a handle on it. :)

  6. Our condolences to the family of Jordan Oliver, a classmate of Stacy’s kids in Bolingbrook. She drowned yesterday in a pond near the school. :(

  7. Drew Peterson Attorneys Return to Court
    Defense motions will be argued about testimony given by divorce attorney Harry Smith
    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Drew Peterson’s lawyers return to court Thursday to argue whether testimony from the divorce attorney for Peterson’s deceased ex-wife violated attorney-client privilege.

    Prosecutors have won the right to use hearsay evidence at trial, but defense motions will be argued about testimony given by attorney Harry Smith.

    The defense claims Smith violated his attorney-client privilege when he testified about conversations he had with Peterson’s ex-wives Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.

    Smith previously testified that Stacy Peterson told him that her husband was angry because he believed she had told a person named “Tom” that he killed Savio.

    Drew Peterson, 58, is charged with killing Savio after she was found dead at her Bolingbrook home in a bathtub in 2004. Peterson also remains the main suspect in the 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, but he denies any wrongdoing.

    Peterson returned to court two weeks ago after two years of trial delays. It was the first time the former Bolingbrook police officer appeared before a judge since 2010.

    “He’s obviously glad the process is starting again,” said attorney Joel Brodsky. “The waiting and sitting on his hands is over.”

    The trial could start as early as this spring.

    Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Drew-Peterson-Attorneys-Court-151854405.html#ixzz1v81Y0rtk

  8. Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    Prosecutors call the #DrewPeterson defense request to bar mention of fourth wife Stacy’s disappearance from trial “premature'”

    Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    #DrewPeterson lawyers, reporters starting to gather in Judge Burmila’s courtroom. No sign of the defendant.

  9. Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    #DrewPeterson hearing about to start. He’s shaved his beard.

    Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    #DrewPeterson hearing about to start. Defendant in the courtroom, still wearing glasses and blue prison jumpsuit.

  10. On Thursday, Judge Edward Burmila will be dealing with a number of defense motions. One asks the court to forbid any mention of Stacy Peterson, while another asks that the case against Drew Peterson be dismissed over the testimony of Savio’s divorce lawyer, Harry Smith, during a pre-trial hearing on hearsay statements.

    “This is probably the worst breach of attorney ethics I’ve ever seen in a courtroom, other than downright cheating, where Mr. Smith told what his client said,” Greenberg said. “Prosecutors utilized that information. They shouldn’t have done it.”

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/05/17/drew-peterson-back-in-court-as-trial-looms/

  11. Joseph Hosey ‏@ShorewdILPatch
    Late start. Only 1 motion argued,

    Joseph Hosey ‏@ShorewdILPatch
    State can’t bolster Schori’s cred by saying he’s a pastor. But they can say he’s a pastor. So whatever.

    Joseph Hosey ‏@ShorewdILPatch
    Thre more motions this afternoon.

    Joseph Hosey ‏@ShorewdILPatch
    Also going to set a trial date.

    Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    #DrewPeterson judge just broke for lunch. He’s ruled on one motion so far.

  12. Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    Judge Burmila rules #DrewPeterson prosecutors can’t argue witnesses are more credible because of their job – like if one’s a pastor.

    Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    #DrewPeterson hearing will continue at 1p.m. in a larger courtroom.

    Jon Seidel ‏@SeidelContent
    And to correct an earlier tweet, it looks like #DrewPeterson still has his beard – just thinner. He looked calm. No wisecracks.

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