Legal Ethics

Drew Peterson Lawyer Accused of 'Hornbook Errors' and 'Smorgasbord of Ethical Violations'

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New lawyers representing former Chicago suburban police officer Drew Peterson are seeking to overturn his conviction in a post-trial memorandum that takes aim at Peterson’s former lawyer, Joel Brodsky.

Peterson was convicted of murdering his third wife, whose 2004 bathtub death was originally ruled an accident. He has not been charged in the disappearance of his fourth wife.

The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have reports on the new filing in Will County, Ill., that alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. The memo claims Brodsky had never tried a murder case, but he told Peterson he had handled other homicide cases with success. The document also accuses Brodsky of threatening to reveal possibly damaging information if Peterson decided to fire him. And the memo targets Brodsky for keeping Peterson before the media.

Brodsky “paraded Drew across the airwaves as if Drew were a sideshow, suggesting carnival-like pranks to heighten public recognition of himself and his client,” the memo says, citing the “Win a Date With Drew” contest as an example.

“Attorney Brodsky expected that Drew Peterson would be his ticket to the legal elite,” the memo says. “Regrettably, he was poorly equipped to try a case of this magnitude, resulting in hornbook errors and a smorgasbord of ethical violations. Individually and cumulatively Brodsky singlehandedly deprived Drew of his right to effective assistance of and conflict-free counsel.”

Brodsky defended his representation in a Sun-Times interview. “Drew is desperate,” Brodsky said. “He’s facing the rest of his life in jail. He’ll say anything and he has an unethical lawyer … who will let him do that.” Brodsky also said the allegation that he threatened to reveal damaging information is “a bald-faced lie.”

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