Tuesday: Illinois Supreme Court to hear arguments in Drew Peterson’s appeal of murder conviction

Drew Peterson arrested

Oral arguments in Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio are scheduled to be heard tomorrow, November 15, at 9:30 in Springfield.

I expect Steve Greenberg (and possibly law professor Harold Krent) will be arguing for Peterson, while assistant attorneys general Michael Glick and Leah Bendik will most likely be arguing for the state.

If you’ve been following this case since it was first appealed, a lot of it is going to be familiar ground; with hearsay, conflict of interest, ineffective counsel, and attorney-client privileges being some of the points of contention.

If you want to get up to speed on the appeal in advance of tomorrow’s proceedings, then fire up those reading glasses, pop a Tylenol and power through the legal briefs filed by both the appellant and appellee teams:

BTW, Stacy Peterson has now been missing for nine years. Her sister, Cassandra Cales, recently went to Facebook to state that if Stacy’s remains are found she will sue for them. She says she is still denied access to her niece and nephew who are in the custody of their half-brother, Stephen Peterson. Peterson was fired from his position as a law enforcement officer in Oak Park, after it was determined that he accepted guns and money from his father during the investigation of Stacy’s disappearance in 2007.

Illinois Supreme Court to hear Drew Peterson’s appeal. Former attorney intends to sue for defamation

Photo courtesy IDOC

A smiling Drew Peterson in his current mug shot

I apologize for not updating the blog last week but, unlike Drew Peterson, I was sitting by a pool in the shade of a palm tree.

On March 30 the Illinois Supreme Court announced it would hear ex-Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson’s appeal of his 2012 conviction for killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

The decision came as a bit of a surprise to the legal community, as the Illinois appellate court upheld Peterson’s conviction in November, 2015, stating in their opinion that “since we have found that no errors occurred, defendant’s claim of cumulative error must be rejected.” The chances of the appeal making it to Illinois’ highest court also seemed slim because historically only 5% of petitioned cases are heard.

Peterson’s appeal is based on claims of ineffective counsel on the part of attorney, Joel Brodsky, the admission of several hearsay statements admitted under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, and that evidence given by Pastor Neil Schori at trial violated confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial is amping up for May, based on charges that he solicited an inmate to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who prosecuted the Savio case.

Peterson appeared in court on Friday for a short case management conference. Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker announced the prosecution would tender its official discovery to the defense on that day, and the date of April 22nd was set for the next case management conference.

Reem Odeh posing with a book about the Peterson case

Reem Odeh posing with a book about the Peterson case

In a strange turn of events, former Drew Peterson attorney, Reem Odeh, is asking Cook County to order to Google to supply her with information about the origins of what she says are libelous reviews left on one of her law practice’s social media pages.

According to the petition, Odeh said she intends to sue for defamation the party or parties responsible for the posts, published in January and February 2016.

According to the Cook County Record,

The petition cited one such post, purportedly posted under the alias of “Drea Sanchez,” which called her a “horrible, lying and deceitful woman claiming to be a great lawyer” who “is an embarrassment to all members of The Bar Association.” The post further called on the Illinois Supreme Court to suspend Odeh’s legal license.

Other posts, submitted under other aliases including “Abdullah Mubarak,” “William Levi” and “Nura Galaski,” allegedly accused Odeh of having “a reputation of getting around;” of having come to court “late as usual smelling like cheap beer;” of having made “bad remarks about the Latin/Polish community;” and of never being prepared for court, among other accusations. The post from “Mubarak” also described her using the term “sharamoota,” which the petition said was a derogatory Arabic term for “prostitute.”

Odeh’s petition said the reviews “are rife with false accusations regarding (Odeh), a married woman, including allegations that (Odeh) attends court appearances under the influence of alcohol; that she is adulterous; that she lies to the court and opposing counsel …; and otherwise incompetent at her profession.

Of course I have no idea who is behind the posts but I do remember that Odeh’s break with her former law partner, Joel Brodsky, was acrimonious to say the least and that a spate of negative comments cropped up about her after she testified that Brodsky had attacked her when she left with a copy of a contract between Joel and Drew at Peterson’s pre-sentencing hearings. Brodksy’s wife, Elizabeth, was especially candid when commenting on her husband’s former law partner.

reem-revie3-nura

Whether Mrs. Brodsky still carries a grudge, or Odeh has new enemies remains to be seen. Presumably, all could be revealed if Cook County rules in her favor and Google cooperates.

Drew Peterson takes murder conviction appeal to Illinois Supreme Court. Murder-for-hire trial set for next month.

Drew Peterson's new mug shots for 2016

Drew Peterson’s new mug shots for 2016

UPDATE 1/27/16: Despite having denied a motion to delay the beginning of the trial just last week, after a conference call between Judge Brown and attorneys Walker and Liefer, the judge agreed to continue Drew Peterson’s upcoming murder-for-hire trial in order to give both sides more time to prepare. The trial was originally set to begin the end of next month. The new trial date is May 6.

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Two months after his appeal was denied by the Illinois appellate court, Drew Peterson’s attorneys have taken his case to the state Supreme Court in hopes of overturning his 2012 conviction for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Case No. 120331

People v. Peterson, Defense leave to appeal granted 3/30/16 from 2015 IL App (3d) 130157

Whether the Appellate Court erred by finding that a decision in a prior appeal precluded it from considering whether evidence was properly admitted under the forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine, where the prior appeal concerned only a different aspect of the doctrine – the possible application of a new statute. (§2-6(a))

Defense counsel: Stephen Greenberg, Chicago

Penned by attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent, the petition to appeal covers familiar ground, alleging that the admission of hearsay and “former bad acts” evidence to his the trial should not have taken place and resulted in the erroneous conviction of Drew Peterson.

The Illinois Appellate Court is also called out for having not seriously considered all of the arguments raised in the earlier appeal.

The appeal also, once again points the finger at Peterson’s former counsel and friend, Joel Brodsky, who they insist created a conflict of interest when he wrote a contract with Peterson that gave him a percentage of any money earned by media appearances. They also maintain that he erred when calling lawyer Harry Smith to the stand to testify that Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, had asked him if she could get more money from a divorce arrangement if she threatened to tell how he had killed Kathleen Savio.

Interestingly, last week, a former client of Steve Greenberg’s, Albert Domagala, had his sentence overturned and was granted a new trial after a judge agreed that he had been granted ineffective assistance by Greenberg at his 2005 murder trial.

Joel Brodsky, naturally, took to Facebook and called it a case of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

brodsky-greenberg-ineffective

In Peterson’s case, the filing does not ensure that the Supreme Court will hear the new appeal. The Chicago Tribune points out that the higher court “typically hears a small percentage of such petitions. For example, justices agreed to hear arguments in less than 5 percent of the nearly 1,500 petitions filed in fiscal 2014.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown denied Peterson’s request to delay his trial in the solicitation of murder case.

Peterson’s attorney, Lucas Liefer told the judge that the defense and prosecution were still exchanging discovery in the case, “I don’t think we need a lot of time, but I don’t think it is realistic to say we will be ready to go to trial in a month,” he said.

Judge Brown replied that the calendar for March was already full, telling Leifer, “if you have to move cases aside to get ready for this, then do so.”

At least forty-six witnesses have been subpoenaed in the case, including experts in finger-print and audio recording evidence.

Jury selection for the trial will take place on February 26 and his trial will begin on February 29th in Chester, Illinois where he is incarcerated.

Drew’s prison correspondence continues to be of interest. Joel Brodsky took to Twitter to share his taunting of his former client via the postal service.

joeltweet

A man (with his own notorious past) who claims to be distantly related to Staacy Peterson, also wrote to Peterson in prison, and claims to have received an acerbic reply.

golbafagg

Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, continues to search for her sister and to consult those claiming to be psychics for help in locating Stacy Peterson’s remains.

Most recently Stacy’s family has turned to a woman named Sharon Pugh, who calls herself the “Southern Style Medium”. Hugh was provided with items belonging to to Drew and Stacy Peterson, and by holding the items she says that Stacy joined them and told her that she had been wearing a heart shaped necklace when she died, which was removed before the disposal of her body. She hopes to have more sessions with the family.

Drew Peterson's watches

Drew Peterson’s watches

Stacy Peterson's cap

Stacy Peterson’s cap

Today is Stacy Peterson’s birthday. She would have been 32.

 

Her youngest child turned 11 this month and celebrated with a trip to an indoor rock climbing facility and a lobster dinner.
Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Stacy with the children: Kris, Lacy, Anthony and Tom

Video: Drew Peterson murder conviction appeal oral arguments

Part 1: Argument for the appeal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Part 2: Argument for the appeal by attorney Harold Krent

Part 3: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (1)

Part 4: Argument against the appeal by assistant state’s attorney Marie Czech (2)

Part 5: Rebuttal by attorney Steven Greenberg

Last week Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements under the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception, the question of counselor-client and lawyer-client privilege and allegations of conflict and ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

Last week also saw a change in date for Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial. Originally he had asked for a speedy trial and the date was set for July, but his attorney, Lucas Liefer, decided that they could not be ready by then. The trial is now set for August 28th.

Attorney Steven Greenberg who unsuccessfully defended Peterson against murder charges at trial in 2012, and is now one of his appellate lawyers, was interviewed about the oral arguments as well as Drew’s more recent murder case

Attorney Joel Brodsky, who is named in Peterson’s appeal as providing ineffective assistance and having a per se conflict of interest, replied to the charges via “The Publicity Agency”. The PR firm is run by Glenn Selig who is also named in Peterson’s appeal.

“I was amazed and shocked at the flagrant lies told, and the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated by Attorney Steve Greenberg during oral arguments before the Illinois Appellate Court on Drew Peterson’s appeal of his murder conviction. As to the accusations about my seeking publicity during the Peterson case, Steve Greenberg’s hypocrisy is beyond all bounds. The provable truth is that Attorney Steve Greenberg begged me to let him come onto the Peterson case to work for free and he wanted to do so for the publicity. He certainly did not want to work for free out of the goodness of his heart. Further, for Greenberg to complain about me seeking publicity from the Peterson case is the height of dishonesty when the provable fact is that I had to stop him from appearing on a truTV segment called “Karas v. Greenberg”, which he attempted to do during the trial! Rather than preparing for the days hearing or appearing in the courtroom during the trial, Greenberg was on truTV giving away the defense’s strategy while seeking publicity for himself. During the trial, he even used his daughter to set up his own personal media interviews. It is the height of hypocrisy for Attorney Greenberg to accuse me of wanting publicity.

Furthermore, Attorney Steve Greenberg told blatant lies during the oral argument. He stated that Drew Peterson’s media interviews were played during the trial and were used as evidence against him. Perhaps Greenberg was too busy doing the “Karas v. Greenberg” TV bits during the trial to remember, but not one video of Drew giving a media interview was ever played at trial. Not one. The only thing related to Mr. Peterson’s interviews that was used as evidence was a written transcript of three (3) questions that Drew was asked during interviews. The questions were as follows: (1) what happened to Kathy” (Drew said “I don’t know”), (2) Were you surprised that Kathy’s body was exhumed (Drew said “yes”), and (3) Were you separated at the time? (Drew said ‘yes”). Hardly evidence against Drew. This shows that Attorney Steve Greenberg lacks any credibility and engaged in gross misrepresentations and hypocrisy during his oral argument to the appellate court.”

Oral arguments presented today in appeal of Drew Peterson’s murder conviction

Drew Peterson attorneys Steve Greenberg and Harold Krent presented arguments today to three Illinois appellate justices in hopes of overturning Peterson’s 2012 conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

The appeal centered around a number of points – namely the admittance of hearsay statements, the question of counselor-client privilege and allegations of ineffective counsel on the part of Joel Brodsky.

The Chicago Tribune reported that,

A three-member panel of the 3rd District Appellate Court frequently interrupted the attorneys with questions about why the rest of Peterson’s legal team did not intervene if they disagreed with Brodsky’s actions and trial strategy.

They also appeared skeptical of claims that Peterson’s rights were violated when Burmila allowed Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to testify that Stacy Peterson had called to ask what would happen if she did not reveal her husband’s role in Savio’s death.

Greenberg and Krent argued that Smith should never have been allowed to testify, because it violated attorney-client privilege.

But Justice Daniel Schmidt appeared skeptical.

“Is the privilege designed to protect the client or the person that killed the client?” Schmidt asked. “My guess is if I’m dead, I’m not going to mind if my attorney testifies about the guy that killed me.”

Also,

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Czech argued that the media rights agreement had expired before Peterson’s 2012 trial, and said Brodsky had nothing to gain by calling a witness that could sink his client’s case.

“There is absolutely no benefit to Mr. Brodsky for losing this case,” Czech said. “Winning this case brings new clients, brings fame. Losing the case, as we’ve seen with Mr. Brodsky, brings a loss of clients, ignominy.”

She also reminded the panel that Smith was called by the defense, not the prosecution.

After the nearly hourlong argument, Justice Mary K. O’Brien said the court would take the matter under advisement and would later issue a written decision. She did not say when that decision would be released.

Pastor Neil Schori attended today’s proceedings, commenting afterward about the allegation that his testimony violated Stacy Peterson’s right to privacy he said, “The defense continues to try to make this an issue. That Stacy wanted me to be quiet makes no sense.”

Drew Peterson appeal of murder conviction to be filed soon

UPDATE: 1/13/14: Steven Greenberg reports that he has mailed the appeal.
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Drew Peterson’s attorneys have until January 14, 2014 to file an appeal of his conviction for the murder of Kathleen Savio.

Although limited to 50 pages, they have been asking permission to submit something more along the lines of a novella – 175 pages: 50 pages outlining the facts of the case and another 125 pages of arguments. Apparently they feel that the publicity garnered by the case merits a more verbose appeal. Or perhaps the inflated egos of Peterson’s battling counselors require bloated prose. Whatever the case, the third district appellate court has again shot down the request and they will be obliged to stick to the limit.

Peterson’s appeal is set to be filed within the next three weeks but the oral arguments for and against are not expected to be heard until late 2014.

Attorney Steven Greenberg says that the appeal will focus on hearsay evidence which was admitted to trial and on allegations of ineffective counsel. Motions filed after Peterson’s conviction and prior to his sentencing asked for a re-trial on the same grounds but were denied by Judge Edward Burmila.

Sources:
Chicago Tribune
ABC 7

Three of Drew Peterson’s old attorneys return to his defense – Joel Brodsky calls them a pathological narcissist, an alcoholic, and a novice

The Chicago Tribune reports that attorneys Steve Greenberg, John Heiderscheidt and David Peilet have been rehired to try to overturn Drew Peterson’s murder conviction for the killing of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.

The three lawyers turned his appellate case over to the state defender’s office last March but Peterson has now decided he wants the help of his old team. attorney Steve Greenberg says,

After the case was over, he needed to think about what he wanted to do. We needed to let things calm down before making those decisions.

The appeal, which is expected to be filed within the next 90 days, will be based on the admission of hearsay, the admission of testimony by Stacy Peterson’s pastor, a jury pool left in limbo for over two years and the ineffective counsel of Peterson’s lead attorney, Joel Brodsky. Brodsky responded to the news last night in an acerbic Tweet:

joel-comment

The Tribune reports that Peterson is biding his time at Menard Correctional Center, in protective custody. He has no cellmate and no job there. He gets five hours of recreation time each week and is allowed to see visitors twice a month.

Since his sentencing, Peterson’s yearly police pension of almost $80k has been challenged by Bolingbrook Village officials. It may take months before the outside attorney hired by the pension board makes a recommendation.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune