Warring Peterson lawyers take fight to court

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm •  Published: February 18, 2013
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CHICAGO (AP) — Drew Peterson's wisecracking, limelight-hogging, sunglasses-wearing lawyers faced the media horde every day of the former suburban Chicago police officer's 2012 trial — one that ended with a murder conviction and a falling out among the erstwhile colleagues.

But the lawyerly war of words in public between lead trial counsel Joel Brodsky and former partner-turned-nemesis Steve Greenberg that began within hours of the trial's end will come to a head Tuesday at a hearing where the defense will argue Peterson deserves a new trial because Brodsky did a shoddy job.

It's just the latest of many peculiar chapters in the saga of the former Bolingbrook police sergeant, who gained notoriety after his much younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007. There was speculation Peterson sought to parlay his law enforcement expertise to get away with murder.

If Will County Judge Edward Burmila rejects the motion for a retrial, he has said he will proceed quickly to sentencing. Peterson, 59, faces a maximum 60-year prison term for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub with a gash on her head.

Disagreements among legal teams during trials aren't uncommon, but those spats spilling into public are, said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago-area defense attorney who isn't connected to the Peterson case.

"A new team of lawyers might accuse an old team of lawyers of making mistakes at the trial — but lawyers on the same trial team blaming each other? I've never heard of anything like this," he said.

The feud escalated earlier this month when Brodsky filed a defamation lawsuit against Greenberg.

The suit claims Greenberg became "irrationally fixated and obsessed with destroying Brodsky" and held Brodsky up to "great public scorn, hatred, contempt (and) ridicule."

In an open letter to Brodsky in September, Greenberg accused him of "single-handedly" losing the trial, adding he "wafted the greatest case by ignorance, obduracy and ineptitude."

The current acrimony stands in contrast to the start of the trial, when the defense team was a united front. Several times, they joked that Stacy Peterson — whose body was never found — could show up any day to take the stand.

If Brodsky ends up taking the stand at Tuesday's hearing, he may face aggressive cross-examination by Greenberg and his other erstwhile colleagues. There's even an outside chance Peterson himself could be asked to testify.

Among the accusations against Brodsky, one is that he was so bent on self-publicity that he pressed Peterson to go a pretrial media blitz that ended up damaging the former officer's cause.

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