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Behavior of Drew Peterson Lawyers Targeted in Unsuccessful Motion for New Trial in Neighboring Case

Posted Nov 27, 2012 7:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: A lawyer for an Illinois man convicted in the shooting deaths of his wife and three children has lost a new trial bid based on the press conferences of attorneys for a more high-profile defendant, Drew Peterson.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Daniel Rozak of Will County denied the motion filed on behalf of Christopher Vaughn of Oswego, who was convicted in Joliet this summer after jurors deliberated for less than an hour, report the Chicago-Sun Times and the Associated Press. Rozak sentenced Vaughn to four life terms.

The trial of former police officer Drew Peterson, convicted of murdering his third wife, took place in a neighboring courtroom and partly overlapped Vaughn’s trial. Public defender George Lenard had sought the new trial in a court hearing on Monday, report the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Lenard had claimed that antics of Peterson's lawyers during daily press conferences harmed Vaughn's case. At one point, Lenard said, Peterson's lawyers held a news conference that appeared to mock the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife. "That gave criminal defense attorneys, all of us, a black eye," Lenard told a judge on Monday. He cited other reasons for a new trial as well, including a closing argument by the prosecutor that described Lenard's arguments as "silly," ''ludicrous" and "shameful."

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.”

Story updated at 10:25 a.m. to include judge's denial of the bid for a new trial.

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