Drew Peterson backed his longtime attorney in court today after a legal skirmish by another defense team to intervene in his post-trial motions.
Lead counsel Joel Brodsky and attorneys John Paul Carroll and Michelle Gonzalez clashed over who will represent Peterson as he appeals his conviction for the 2004 murder of third wife, Kathleen Savio.
In a recent court filing seeking a new trial, Carroll accused Brodsky of lying about his courtroom prowess, forcing the defendant into pretrial publicity and myriad legal errors.
Carroll insisted Peterson gave him the green light but a stunned Brodsky said Carroll had authority to handle issues related only to the defendant's police pension.
In court today, Peterson told Judge Edward Burmila he did not authorize the ineffective counsel motion filed by Carroll. But, when Burmila told Peterson to consider getting advice from an independent attorney, Peterson asked for more time to think about it.
Gonzalez said she was at a loss to explain Peterson's change of heart.
"He seems to have a loyalty to Mr. Brodsky," Gonzalez said. "He was concerned about Mr. Brodsky's reputation. He's been his attorney for years."
Judge Burmila also gave Brodsky a verbal tongue-lashing for suggesting in a defense motion to rule "quietly and without fanfare" regarding whether defense attorney Steven Greenberg stayed on the case.
"It's so offensive to me that it's not even funny," Burmila said.
An apologetic Brodsky had withdrawn the motion. Greenberg will remain on the defense team, at Peterson's urging.
After last month's guilty verdict, several jurors were critical of Brodsky's decision to call DuPage County attorney Harry Smith as a defense witness during the five-week trial.
Smith testified Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, asked him shortly before her October 2007 disappearance if she could get a bigger divorce settlement if she threatened to tell police about her husband's role in Savio's death.
Brodsky called Smith to the witness stand against the rest of the defense team's advice.
Brodsky and Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, have walked lock step since 2007, when Peterson tapped the him to defend him. Though more seasoned criminal lawyers such as Greenberg later joined the defense team, Peterson opted to keep Brodsky as the lead counsel.
Burmila set a new sentencing date of Jan. 10 for Peterson, 58.