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The more I read about Drew Peterson and his lawyers, the more questions I have.
Joel Brodsky, Peterson's lead attorney when Peterson was convicted last summer of murdering his third wife (as distinct from his fourth wife), is again Peterson's chief hope of staying out of prison. But no longer because of his legal acumen. Peterson's current lawyers are now arguing in court that Brodsky's defense was so incompetent the guilty verdict should be overturned. The lawyer leading this charge is Steve Greenberg, who once upon a time was Brodsky's cocounsel. Peterson fired Greenberg after the trial and then rehired him to go after Brodsky, who resigned under fire.
Greenberg called Brodsky to the stand Tuesday. Brodsky testified that an online defense fund created by Peterson netted 11 cents, which strikes me as an accurate gauge of public sentiment. More money came in, said Brodsky, from media sniffing an opportunity: $10,000 in licensing fees from ABC; $5,900 from a publisher for a book Peterson would put his name to; $15,000 from a TV studio for film-licensing rights.
The Tribune reported: "Peterson's defense team has argued that Brodsky was operating under a conflict of interest when he represented Peterson, citing a contract that called for money to be split between Brodsky, Peterson and their publicity agent."
Question one: What about this contract? Should Peterson's lawyers call a Truman Capote scholar to the stand? As the New York Times's David Carr put it in a 2005 essay, while researching the Kansas murders that became the basis of his best seller In Cold Blood, Capote developed an "emotional attachment" to the killers, "but that relationship did not prevent him from developing a rooting interest in their deaths, without which he would have no end for his most important work."
Did Brodsky have a rooting interest in Peterson's conviction? Doesn't Peterson collapse as a commercial property if he lives happily ever after?
Then again, during the trial, not just Brodsky but Greenberg and everyone else on the defense team were represented by a PR agency. And that leads me to . . .
Question two: What about Joseph "the Shark" Lopez? He was a big part of that team, and during the trial his angle was to write columns for the Sun-Times while presumably giving Peterson his all as a defense counsel. We need his inside view now more than ever, giving us the what's-what on Brodsky and Greenberg and dispelling—if that's possible—the impression I'm surely not alone in having that Peterson's defense team would have tried a lot harder to act like grown-ups if they'd believed for a second their client was actually innocent.
The Sun-Times's Mark Brown did a good job Wednesday of summarizing the wackiness of Peterson's campaign: "Put together a large team of defense lawyers, set them against each other and if they don't win you an acquittal in the first place, you have them blame each other in the aftermath to win a new trial."
Meanwhile, in the Tribune, "Simeon All Access" grinds on. At this point in the prep basketball season, there can't be many angles the Tribune hasn't already exhausted, but Colleen Kane found one Wednesday in benchwarmer Saleed Ivey.
"The challenge now amid a team of stars is to keep his dreams of leading Simeon upright," writes Kane. "The 6-foot junior guard, a reserve behind seniors Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate and Rickey Norris, hopes it's just a matter of fortitude."
Maybe next year, when the Tribune isn't looking, Ivey will be a starter. But is that his only ambition? The Tribune profile is totally about the basketball life of a kid whose life—probably just a few years down the road—won't be about basketball. Does Ivey have a favorite class? What's the last book he read? Is there a career, other than basketball, that intrigues him? Is there an understanding between Simeon and the Tribune that its reporters won't ask awkward questions?