Drew Peterson in court today: New claims of ineffective assistance

Drew Peterson was back in court this morning for motions to overturn his conviction and get a new trial.

Attorneys Steve Greenberg and David Peilet will file a motion claiming ineffective assistance of counsel by Peterson’s long-time lead attorney, Joel Brodsky, who withdrew from his defense last month.

After his withdrawal Joel Brodsky gave numerous interviews in which he defended his defense of Peterson and stated that he was stepping down to put an end to the friction between himself and his co-counsel:

There’s no errors. I did not do anything ineffective. But what we have here is a situation where unfounded allegations that have been made are interfering with the movement of this case.

Now Brodsky says:

The guy is looking at first-degree murder and my feeling is that if Drew Peterson has 101 arguments to make I don’t want him to be able to make 100 arguments. I don’t want anybody to ever say that I impeded him in any way.”

Judge Edward Burmila is giving the defense until December 14 to file their pre-sentencing motions and the state will have until January 9 to file its responses to those motions.

This pushes Drew Peterson’s sentencing date further into 2013, but no date has been decided upon yet.

Last month Attorneys John Carroll and Michelle Gonzalez also filed a motion requesting a new trial based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel by Joel Brodsky. Drew Peterson told Judge Burmilla in open court that he did not authorize the motion so it was denied.

Prior motion filed October 9. 2012:

Joel Brodsky’s response. Filed October 11, 2012:

Attorney Steven Greenberg’s open letter to Joel Brodsky dated September 24, 2012:

Read more at ABC7
Read more at WGN
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61 thoughts on “Drew Peterson in court today: New claims of ineffective assistance

  1. Attorneys for convicted wife-killer Drew Peterson on Friday said they’re going ahead with a request to have his conviction thrown out on the basis of poor legal work by his former lead attorney, Joel Brodsky.

    Attorneys Steve Greenberg and David Pielet 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.

    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.


  2. I guess the ideal scenario here is that Joel Brodsky has to testify and we get the satisfaction of hearing him get reamed out for being a moron, but that they can’t prove any or his errors amount to ineffective counsel.

  3. wait…I remember hearing that they all agreed to put Smith on the stand….whether Greenberg did or didn’t want too…drew wanted him on the stand..IMO that is written in stone…and just because brodsky is an idiot and needs to take a sabbatical…isn’t grounds for a new trial….unless it’s for Stacy…

  4. The only one who says the decision to put Harry Smith on the stand was a consensus is Joel Brodsky. So it’s his word against the rest of the co-counsel-hardly written in stone.

    If Joel takes the stand to defend the claims of errors on his part, the attorney-client privilege is waived but only so far as it relates to those claims. Joel can’t be asked anything about what Drew may have divulged as far as Stacy’s whereabouts.

    I don’t see Drew getting a new trial based on what Joel did in court. Not when he had a six-man team of attorneys. Besides Joel has explained why he called Harry Smith to the stand. He says that it was in order to attempt to impeach Stacy and that he got counsel from other attorneys who told him it was a good move. It was a poor decision, but there was nothing erroneous about it, IMO.

    An error has to be an actual error for it to amount to ineffective assistance. I saw a recent case where a lawyer admitted that he had erroneously advised a client to plead guilty to a certain crime because she would only have to serve half of the sentence. It turned out that he was wrong because of the circumstances, she actually had to serve the full time of her sentence. Now THAT’s an error. Or take the case of Jon Carroll whose clients were offered a plea deal but he never mentioned it to them until after they were sentenced. Oops! That’s a bad one. Those are examples of actual errors that can mean a conviction is thrown out and a client gets a new trial.

    Brodsky’s decision to call Harry Smith was bad strategy and it probably was Stacy’s testimony that nailed Drew’s ass, but an error in judgment isn’t the same thing as a technical error.

  5. Joel Brodsky:

    “Drew was pleased after he was called. He felt it pointed out that the Stacy hearsay was motivated solely by an attempt to extort money from him, but the jury didn’t see it that way. It wasn’t an error. It was strategy that the jury didn’t accept.”

    Joe Lopez:

    People have really criticized Joel Brodsky for calling Harry Smith to the stand. He knows more about this case than any member of the defense or prosecution. He did it for reason not because he is an idiot. It was a tactical decision for which we hope the public will understand, if we loose its not because of Harry Smith.

  6. Maybe hiring a publicist to fish for TV and book deals when you’re suspected of killing your last two wives wasn’t such a great idea after all.

    The six lawyers representing convicted wife-killer Drew Peterson don’t think so, and they filed court papers Friday criticizing former co-counsel Joel Brodsky for doing just that.

    “Attorney Brodsky was operating under a conflict of interest,” according to the latest motion filed in the Peterson case.

    Not only that, the post-trial motion accuses Brodsky of violating a rule of professional conduct by partnering with a client in a business deal.

    Brodsky and Peterson entered into the contract, a copy of which was attached to the motion filed Friday, with Florida publicist Glenn Selig.

    The contract, which Peterson and Brodsky signed less than two months after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished, calls for Selig to be paid for “soliciting, procuring and/or negotiating” all manner of media appearances.

    Peterson and Brodsky apparently were hoping to be hired for “product endorsement (including commercials), photo opportunities and/or interviews for Peterson and/or Brodsky on television shows, news related television shows, talk shows, panel shows, reality shows and/or any other live or tape appearances, and/or in magazines, newspapers and/or tabloids” and possibly “book deals” for both of them.

    Brodsky has said he hoped to use the Peterson case as a springboard to a job on a cable news show. That didn’t happen.

    Brodsky “breached his duty of loyalty to the client, operating at best under a concurrent duty to himself,” the motion says. “He allowed his own self-interest to pollute how the matter was handled, from the pretrial media blitz to the trial itself.”

    Greenberg, who previously blamed Brodsky for blowing the case, said on Friday that there are a “smorgasbord of issues” to get Peterson a new trial.

    “It’s like one of those closets where you open the closet to take out one thing, and everything falls out,” Greenberg said.


  7. Facs as Lopez’s comment above shows, it seems that calling Harry Smith to the stand was something that all the counsel eventually agreed to. If I’m not mistaken, this was the same type of statement made by Greenburg shortly after Smith’s testimony.

    Later, after the jury said this was a primary reason for their conviction is when I believe Greenburg came out to throw Joel under the bus.

    I find it very interesting that THIS is their rationale for a retrial. It tells me they’re desperate since all three major attorneys were verbally “on board” the day after the testimony.

    Do we know if this is a hearing only asking for a retrial due to Brodsky’s ineffective counsel, or are they also asking for a retrial based on other things? IOW, is this just a matter of throwing as much stuff against the wall as they can think of in the hopes that something sticks?

  8. So far, we’re only hearing about this one motion but apparently it lists 24 different points. Greenberg says that it’s like opening the closet and everything falls out, and yet their first attempt is to appeal Drew’s conviction because Joel signed an agreement with a PR firm? It really does look like they don’t have much as far as grounds for appeal. (which makes me happy!)

    AFAIK Greenberg has always maintained that he was against calling Smith to the stand, but ultimately I don’t think it’s really going to matter whether everyone was on board or not. I’m sticking with my opinion that it was a bad decision but not an error so regardless of who decided to call Smith, it’s not grounds for a new trial.

  9. Jurors said Smith’s testimony was crucial to their guilty verdict, but Brodsky defended the decision to call Smith to the stand on Friday. He said Drew himself insisted on putting Smith on the stand.

    “He actually threatened that if we didn’t, he was going to take the stand and testify,” Brodsky said. “That would have been the absolute disaster, so to speak.”

    According to Brodsky, he could not reveal until now that Peterson wanted Smith to testify, due to attorney-client privilege. But because the defense team is now officially claiming it was a mistake to call Smith to the stand, Brodsky said he can reveal exactly why he did so.

    “The reason that Harry Smith was called was because Drew Peterson himself insisted that he be called,” Brodsky said.


  10. He claimed Greenberg was negligent in his cross-examination of Illinois State Police Sgt. Patrick Collins, by failing to introduce the written alibi Stacy provided for Drew for the night of Savio’s death.

    Brodsky said Stacy’s written alibi would have countered the testimony of her pastor, Rev. Neil Schori, who said Stacy told him Drew coached her for more than three hours about what to tell police when she was questioned about Savio’s death.

    “The actual alibi itself, first of all, it was only less than half a page long,” Brodsky said. “It’s hard to believe – impossible to believe – that an alibi that’s rehearsed for three-and-a-half hours, or three hours, would only be … about a half a page long.”

    Brodsky also said the written alibi Stacy provided covered only part of the night of Savio’s death.

    “It’s not really an alibi,” he said.

    Brodsky argued, if Drew had truly coached Stacy so thoroughly on providing an alibi, he would have made sure she told police he was with her the whole night Savio died.

    He said, when Greenberg failed to introduce that alibi as evidence, Drew insisted on calling Smith in an effort to show Stacy’s hearsay testimony was not credible.

    So much for “no more finger-pointing”.

  11. IMO the defense is just doing their thing, and I don’t like it, but it’s their right to try every trick in the book. Lord, we will all celebrate the day they’ve exhausted every possible motion and appeal and Drew is put away for good!

  12. You’re right, Winsome. The team needs to provide a ‘vigorous defense’ and they’ll be appealing Drew’s conviction now, and after sentencing, for years to come no doubt. It’s just part of the process.

    I’m relieved that so far the motions don’t seem very compelling.

  13. was that an old picture of drew or was it taken this morning..he is always smiling…how does one do that….we know he doesn’t have a conscience…but does he think he’s just one of the guys going to court…I’ve always felt this is a joke to him..and I don’t believe it’s police humor….

  14. Facs, thanks for video of Brodsky flapping his lip again. The man cannot keep quiet – I have to admit, I’d love to see him put on the stand and questioned!! It would be great intertainment 😀

  15. Strangely enough I once again believe Joel Brodsky when he says it was a joint decision and that Drew wanted Harry Smith on the stand, considering quite a while ago Joel mentioned in the Press they were going to call Harry Smith to proof Stacy was a liar ………

    Don’t tell me Joel would have been able to steamroller a whole team of lawyers, plus and including Drew, if they all thought it was such a bad idea (!!)

    Can’t wait for the fireworks to start when Brodsky realizes Drew is selling him out as well…….

  16. Looks like today’s motion claims not only that Joel made errors, but that Judge Burmila erred in letting Harry Smith take the stand and that Judge White erred in deciding back in 2010 that hearsay statements could be allowed in due to forfeiture by wrongdoing. It also says that Joel messed up when examining Scott Rossetto back in 2010, but it wasn’t Joel that did the examination.

  17. Oh for Christ sakes, where is the firing squad and swift justice. he was found guilty, after trying to cover his ass doing bad deeds, and almost succeeded. Just be done with this crap, and put him out of his smiling misery, which will include the moron lawyer antics

  18. Some updates to the Tribune story:

    But in the newly filed motion, they allege that Brodsky had a financial interest in drawing as much publicity as possible to Peterson’s case. The motion includes a contract Peterson and Brodsky signed with Glenn Selig, a publicist who also worked for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

    The contract calls for Selig to earn a 15 percent commission for securing any paid appearances or a book deal for Peterson or Brodsky.

    “(Brodsky) allowed his own self-interest to pollute how the matter was handled from the pretrial media blitz to the trial itself,” the motion says.

    Brodsky disputed that, saying in an email that the contract in question expired in 2008 and didn’t give him “any interest in any litigation or money which was to be earned by Mr. Peterson.”

    He declined to explain or comment further.

    Peterson, whose hair has turned more gray in the weeks since his conviction, attempted to joke around during Friday’s court appearance in Joliet. As attorneys on both sides discussed which lawyers would be available for court appearances over the next few months, Peterson laughed and whispered something in Greenberg’s ear.

    “Mr. Peterson indicates he’s available,” Greenberg said.


  19. I’d like to know how many chicken wings it took for Joel to make the ultimate sacrifice to “resign” and for him to only have “Drews best interest” at heart (!!)

  20. I ‘m sure I interpreted the arrangement between DPand JB as constituting conflict of interest right from the beginning, and said so more than once. Now, I’m not saying anyone pays attention to what I say, but others must have come to the same conclusion.

    To counter that as grounds for ineffective counsel, JB long ago cited the “White Noise” method: put out so much rubbish that people will become confused and not be able to tell what is true or even where any ‘information’ has originated. He cited its use in the defense OJ. I can see that as aggravating and twisted (if one is actually seeking truth and justice) as it is, he has a point of view, and has already described his method on TV more than once.

    The White Noise is produced by the massive, sustained publicity/fame grab. They look exactly the same. Neat, huh?

    Greenberg et al have always been well on board with wooing the media, nevermind going along with calling Harry Smith. (And BTW, how many times were they cautioned by the judge about calling HS?)

  21. By Jove there was a point at which Steve Greenberg was defending the decision to call Harry Smith to the stand:

    Defense lawyers were trying to show that Stacy Peterson was lying by suggesting that her only motive was to force Peterson to grant her a better settlement.

    Outside the courtroom, Peterson’s attorneys defended calling Smith as a witness, saying his testimony simply showed Stacy Peterson was willing to lie to get a better divorce settlement.

    “You found out that Stacy was going to say anything to gain an advantage in the divorce she was going to file,” defense attorney Steve Greenberg said. “She had a motive to lie, she wanted a financial advantage in the divorce and that’s why she did it and the jury should know that.


    I stand corrected!

  22. LOL – Greenberg’s explanation of WHY Brodsky insisted on calling Smith to the stand, typical CYA, and the way they wish the testimony would have come out. But of course Brodsky the bumbler had no way of stopping the prosecution from getting to the truth once Smith was called as a DEFENSE witness. Even at this point I think Greenberg would have rallied around the “Captain” grudgingly. But then Brodsky started blaming Greenberg for sinking the ship, and that’s when the s___ hit the fan… Ya gotta admit if someone was ineffective it was Brodsky!

  23. I was pretty sure the Three Stooges at least pretended to give a unified front regarding Smith’s testimony. Because of that, I think it will be very difficult to claim “inefficient counsel” based on Smith’s testimony.

    If they had hotly protested and only gave in due to arm-twisting by Brodsky, they should have approached the bench and made a formal statement to Burmilla saying they were putting it on record that they protested bringing this witness to the stand.

    Since they didn’t make any kind of stink when they could have, it will make their efforts now look like sour grapes.

    I agree with you, Facs. Ineffective strategy is not the same as ineffective counsel.

  24. “(Brodsky) allowed his own self-interest to pollute how the matter was handled from the pretrial media blitz to the trial itself,” the motion says.”

    Are they now saying for more than 5 years Drew was bullied by Joel into doing everything he didn’t want to do ?

  25. More than that, are they saying that Brodsky bullied five other attorneys for years and they went right through the trial silently doing Brodsky’s bidding? I’m sure the sunglasses stunt was done under duress…..right?

  26. In the town of lawyerville..brodsky..greenberg…& lopez have to be the topic of dinner conversation…they had an excuse….comment..or answer for everything they did…and if anyone thinks that drew was bullied…drew missed his calling…he should have been an actor..he was a natural…remember like attracts like..they all fit in the idiot column…

  27. Drew Peterson involved himself in media stunts both with and without Joel Brodsky. He made media appearances before Joel responded to his public plea for free representation and if it hadn’t been Joel Brodsky, I believe Drew would have found some one else who was as media and money hungry as himself to partner up with and look for ways to profit from the attention that could be drawn from the mysterious circumstances of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance.

    Drew Peterson is not the victim of this situation.

    Who knows Drew better than his own sons? Was Tom Peterson blaming Joel Brodsky for his father’s awful behavior in the years following Stacy’s disappearnce? Nope. He placed the blame exactly where it belong–on dear old dad:

    He stops short of calling his father a role model.

    “I wouldn’t say role model, with the things he’s been involved with, but he’s definitely a large … presence,” Peterson said.

    “Him going away was very disappointing, but I feel like if he came back I’d have to have a stern talk with him about the things that he’s doing because he’s really kind of lost in his ego, I want to say. I’m not going to lie,” Peterson said. “‘Dad, you do not need to talk to these people right now. You need to stay home and take care of your family.’“


  28. I find it a bit strange that he can front up to court claiming ineffective counsel with some of the lawyers in that original trial?

    So bizarre!

  29. I actually find this comment by Brodsky *very* interesting:

    “He actually threatened that if we didn’t, he was going to take the stand and testify,” Brodsky said. “That would have been the absolute disaster, so to speak.”

    Hmmm. Why would he see Drew taking the stand as a disaster? I thought the only time lawyers didn’t want their client to take the stand was when the client was guilty?

  30. Aussie, I thought the same thing when Brodsky said it would have been a disaster if Drew took the stand… a very telling statement. Could it be he knows as well as the rest of us that his client is a lying murderer and would have found himself in deep trouble when the prosecution was able to question him? Of course Brodsky’s questioning of Harry Smith turned out to be pretty disasterous for the defense too 😉

  31. also remember when in sessions was interviewing joe lopez…and he said he didn’t have any misgivings on putting an innocent man on the stand..and Beth said …so you plan to put drew on the stand…

  32. I think it’s common for lawyers to NOT have their client take the stand regardles, but all the same I found it interesting that Drew testifying would have been a disaster. I mean being innocent and all. 😉

  33. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! While you are enjoying that turkey, remember to be thankful for living in the greatest country on earth. No where else do people have the freedom to do what we can do in this country and have the material possessions so readily available. Thank you to all those who have served in the military to help keep peace in our land and maintain our freedom!

  34. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Pearlsgirl, and all of you.

    I’d like to point out, just for the record, that the world is full of other countries who enjoy the same freedoms. I’m thankful this is so, but still sad for others who are not free to speak their minds or marry whom they like. That’s all. 🙂

  35. A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all….did anyone read in-session…where the women was to cook dinner as her punishment…the comments were too funny…2013 is going to be interesting….everyone from 2012 wants a new trial…lol..I think they all need more time in jail…

  36. In addition the the ‘disaster’ of Drewpy taking the stand is the continal litany by Joe Lopez, that “Brodsky knows more about this case than anyone else.” Hmm…
    And the closet analogy of “everything falls out”:I think these speak volumes, but not in the way they are perceived.
    Every statement can be taken diffeerent ways, depending upon one’s viewpoint.

  37. I don’t see how a man who has had an entire team of attorneys can possible file this motion. I hope it gets thrown out. It’s time to focus on Stacy’s case.

  38. When Christopher Vaughn’s lawyer makes his pitch Monday that his client deserves a new trial, he’s expected to argue that the Oswego man’s chances were tainted in part by media coverage of the Drew Peterson trial this summer.

    George Lenard, Vaughn’s lead defense attorney, filed a motion last week alleging several errors in the trial that ended with Vaughn’s conviction for the murder of his 34-year-old wife, Kimberly, and their three children.

    And Lenard claimed, among other things, that Vaughn didn’t get a fair trial because it was going on at the same time as Peterson’s trial. He also complained about the extensive media coverage of Peterson’s trial, saying publicity over both prevented “the maintenance of the impartial jury if one had been impaneled.”


  39. TWEETS

    Joseph Hosey ‏@ShorewdILPatch
    Lenard also blamed buffoonish behavior of lawyers for #drewpeterson For turning off jury in Vaughn case.
    Lenard said the behavior of Joel Brodsky, Joe Lopez and Steve Greenberg “gave criminal defense lawyers, all of us, a black eye.”
    Lenard specifically pointed to the lawyers’ “where’s Stacy?” Schtick

  40. That’s certainly a new twist – blaming lawyers from another case for causing your client to be convicted… who knows, it might work :-). Captain Brodsky and his crew were pretty disgusting, but IMO it was the evidence and a thoughtful, reasonable jury that convicted Drew, not publicity. Hope that was true in the Vaughn case also.

  41. If the Vaughn jurors were turned off by the “Stacy Who” antics of Peterson’s defense, then the argument could be made that they would have a favorable view of attorney George Lenard.

    After all, he was part of the Peterson defense for a short time but left over differences with Joel Brodsky.

    It certainly made me like him more.

  42. and the plot thickens….I really don’t think it was a black eye…more like scum….greasey…sarcastic crude remarks….with dark glasses…media whores….Lenard was definitely on the right track…but needed to go lower….

  43. The plot doesn’t thicken for me.

    Just another lawyer hoping to get a mistrial for his murderer client. The Peterson trial had nothing to do with anything that happened at the Vaughn trial.

    51 points to the Vaughn motion so you know that Lenard is just tossing out whatever happens to cross his mind and hoping that something sticks.

    But nothing is going to stick. Vaughn’s crimes were even worse than Drew Peterson’s, and there was plenty of evidence to convict.

  44. when JUDGE WHITE was ON TRUE TV, or insession he said that , there should not be an over turn verdict at all . me thinks they trying to draw straws on this. but he also said he made sure during his time for peterson there was not going to be an appelit issue . so the bafoons are wrong

  45. Rozak said alleged obnoxious behavior by Peterson lawyers would make Lenard look good in comparison, according to the Sun-Times account. The contrast, if Lenard’s description is accurate, would make Lenard appear like the “second coming of Clarence Darrow,” the judge said.

    Rozak also said there was no evidence that jurors in Vaughn’s trial were even aware of the news conferences by Peterson’s lawyers, according to AP.

    Former Peterson lawyer Joel Brodsky had told the Sun-Times that Lenard’s assertion about his team’s behavior is “just bizarre.”

    “When you don’t have a good argument, you make a bad one,” Brodsky said. “I guess if it rains tomorrow, it’s my fault.”


  46. Another typical Brodsky statement. “I guess if it rains tomorrow, it’s MY fault.” Me, me, me, poor me, blamed for everything. I don’t think he was singled out by Lenard, but at any rate I’m glad Rozak didn’t buy any of it, and the sentence was imposed.

  47. “Rozak said alleged obnoxious behavior by Peterson lawyers would make Lenard look good in comparison…”

    There is no alleged about it!

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