Drew Peterson's longest serving attorney tried to argue his way out of testifying at a hearing to determine whether the convicted wife-killer needs a new murder trial, but couldn't dodge his trip to the witness stand.
But even after attorney Joel Brodsky failed to convince Judge Edward Burmila he didn't have to testify, he wasn't asked too many uncomfortable questions about the trial he has been blamed for blowing.
Instead, Peterson lawyer Steve Greenberg stuck to questions about Brodsky's financial dealings with Peterson. He also asked about a contract Brodsky and Peterson entered into with Florida publicist Glenn Selig.
The ABC network paid Peterson and Brodsky $10,000 for "licensing rights" to Peterson's photographs and videos, according to testimony. A Seattle production company paid $15,000 in a similar deal, Brodsky said.
While the network and production company ponied up thousands, a website set up to solicit donations for Peterson's legal defense netted a mere 11 cents, Brodsky testified.
The money from ABC, the production company and the website all went into a fund from which Brodsky withdrew money to pay himself, according to testimony. Brodsky admitted to taking money out, but was uncertain if he had written permission from Peterson to pay himself.
"I'm not sure," Brodsky said. "I may. I may not."
Peterson was found guilty in September of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio. This week's hearing is Peterson's last chance for a new trial before Judge Burmila hands down a prison sentence of 20 to 60 years in prison.
Brodsky was the fourth and final witness to testify on the hearing's first day. He was preceded by his former law partner, Reem Odeh, who claimed Brodsky physically attacked her after she quit their practice. Odeh also testified that Brodsky threatened her on her way into court.
A John Marshall Law School professor followed Odeh and said Brodsky committed ethical violations in his dealings with Peterson.
An Elmhurst woman who attended Peterson's murder trial was called to the stand to recount how she eavesdropped on a conversation between Brodsky and Greenberg in a courthouse hallway. The exchange supposedly overheard by Jennifer Spohn concerned whether or not Peterson's lawyers would call Savio's divorce attorney, Harry Smith, as a witness.
Peterson's fate ended up hinging on Smith as, after finding Peterson guilty, members of the murder trial jury said the attorney's testimony clinched the conviction.
"I heard Mr. Greenberg say, 'We should not put Harry Smith on the witness stand,' and I heard Mr. Brodsky say, 'Yes, we're doing it, we need him,'" Spohn recalled.
Spohn said Greenberg then told Brodsky, "I filed 74 effing motions to keep him from testifying and you're going to undo it all."
After the hearing, Greenberg said the decision to call Smith was the worst courtroom move he's seen in his 27-year career. Brodsky refused to answer questions about calling Harry Smith or to comment on whether, in hindsight, he considers it a mistake.
Greenberg said he plans to call retired Cook County Judge Dan Locallo as a witness on Wednesday. Locallo will share his thoughts on the decision to call Smith and whether Brodsky's contract with Peterson and a publicist was a conflict, he said.
Greenberg has also said he planned to call Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow to the stand. Last week, Glasgow filed court papers claiming Greenberg failed to take the proper steps to make a prosecutor testify, and now Greenberg does not sound so certain he will be following through with the state's attorney.
Asked if he thought he would be testifying Wednesday, Glasgow said, "I doubt it, seriously."
Greenberg's co-counsel Joseph "Shark" Lopez said Brodsky looked "a little nervous" in Judge Burmila's courtroom, but Brodsky didn't agree.
"I don't think I looked uncomfortable," he said, and noted, "I've been on the witness stand before."