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Ex, current Peterson lawyers face off in court

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013
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JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — The attorney who led the defense team in Drew Peterson's 2012 murder trial sat in the witness box Tuesday and faced questions from his former co-counsel — the latest turn in a long-running legal saga full of strange twists.

The rarity of former legal colleagues facing off as adversaries came at a hearing to decide if Peterson, a former suburban Chicago police officer, should get a new trial in the slaying of his third wife.

His current attorneys contend that former lead attorney Joel Brodsky botched Peterson's trial, which ended in September with jurors convicting Peterson of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Witnesses during the daylong hearing Tuesday included Brodsky, a law professor who teaches ethics and even a spectator during last year's trial. The hearing resumes Wednesday.

Peterson, 59, faces a maximum 60-year prison term for killing Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub with a gash on her head. The former Bolingbrook police sergeant gained nationwide notoriety after his much younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007. Her disappearance led authorities to exhume Savio's body and change the cause of death from an accident to a homicide.

The dispute between Peterson's former lawyer and his current ones is in sharp contrast to the beginning of Peterson's trial, when the limelight-seeking defense team faced the media together. Several times, they joked that Stacy Peterson — who authorities presume is dead but whose body was never found — could show up any day to take the stand.

The most dramatic moment at Tuesday's hearing came when current Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg — who has engaged in an open war of words with Brodsky in recent months — announced that Brodsky was his next witness.

Brodsky at first did not appear, and eventually the judge ordered him to the witness stand.

In public, Brodsky and Greenberg have denounced each other as liars, but the back and forth in court Tuesday was comparatively reserved and polite.

Under questioning, Brodsky conceded Peterson received money for media appearances before Peterson was jailed in 2009. Greenberg has argued Brodsky was more concerned about drumming up publicity for his legal practice than defending Peterson.

As the day's proceeding's ended, lead prosecutor James Glasgow was asked by reporters if he knew of other cases where one-time legal allies ended up facing each other in court.

"In 30 years, I have never seen this before," he said.

As he left, Greenberg said he didn't enjoy putting a fellow lawyer on the stand — but added he felt compelled on Peterson's behalf.

"It's uncomfortable every time you have to throw stones at a lawyer," Greenberg said. "I don't like to do it. ... But this time, it has merit."

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