Presiding over his trial is Judge Edward Burmila, who has shown himself to be attentive and animated during court proceedings. He has become visibly angered with some of the actions of the prosecution and reprimanded a witness when he didn’t like how she phrased a response.
Even before proceedings began, there were rumblings that the mixture of Judge Burmila and State’s Attorney James Glasgow could be a volatile one. Both men vied for the position of State’s Attorney in 1992, with Glasgow winning the votes and the position. It is rumored that there is bad blood between the two men.
During the opening statement by the defense, Judge Burmila stopped Attorney Joel Brodsky and removed the jury from the room while he reprimanded Drew Peterson’s lead attorney, saying that his retelling of Peterson’s life story was, “completely inappropriate” and urged him to get to the meat of the statement.
Day two of the trial saw the judge angry once more, when the prosecution knowingly let Tom Pontarelli testify about finding a .38 bullet in his driveway, which he perceived as a threat from Drew Peterson. The Defense claimed that the testimony had been barred. The prosecution said that it had not. The defense filed a motion for a mistrial and the judge threatened to either accept the motion with prejudice, which would have essentially acquitted Peterson of the murder charge, or to strike the complete testimony of Tom Pontarelli. The next morning, he ruled that only the offending statement would be struck and that the trial would go on.
The next day Judge Burmila asked the prosecution to keep the name of Stacy Peterson out of Anna Doman’s testimony, even though the defense had mentioned her during the opening statement.
There has been a good amount of criticism regarding the way the defense team has been allowed to address the media and although Judge Burmila has asked Joe Lopez to stop tweeting from the courtroom, he hasn’t issued a gag order.
How do you feel about the way Judge Edward Burmila is handling this trial? Is he simply being cautious about the heavily circumstantial evidence to ensure that Peterson’s actions rather than his character are on trial? Could it be that his rulings against the prosecution are all in the interest of a fair trial and to make sure that a possible conviction might “stick” under appeal? Or is he letting his personal feelings against the prosecution affect his decisions? Is he the right judge to preside over this trial?