I was shocked that Drew Peterson was convicted. It’s not that I thought he was innocent, but I didn’t think the prosecutors had the goods to get a jury to find him guilty. You can know that someone is a scumbag and probably committed murder, but proving it with only the evidence in court is something else.
Most people won’t find themselves in the Drew Peterson situation where they are charged with murder, but even if you are just arrested for something minor, Drew’s handling of the case offers some advice on what not to do if charged with a crime. How should you not be like Drew? Let’s count the ways:
- Keep your mouth shut. Most people that are suspected of a crime don’t have the chance to go on TV and radio shows as Drew did (which basically taunted the prosecutors to charge him), but Drew also made mistakes by talking to friends, family members and others about the case. You have nothing to gain by this. Don’t talk to the police either. Anything you say can and will be used against you as the old saying goes. You don’t benefit legally by talking, even if you are not a blowhard like Drew.
- The lawyer you hire can be the difference between winning and losing. Somehow Drew Peterson had at least six defense attorneys on his case. At least three of them are considered to be some of the best around and while I thought the closing argument by one of them wasn’t strong, their work on cross examination of the witnesses was excellent. These are lawyers that do nothing but criminal defense all day, every day and have hundreds if not thousands of cases in their track record, including multiple high profile media cases. Unfortunately for Drew, he for some reason picked Joel Brodsky as the guy to call the shots and act as his lead attorey. The two of them seem to have the same odd personality and desire for the spotlight. And while Brodsky isn’t per se a bad attorney, if you look on his website, aside from criminal law, he talks about his work in commercial litigation, bankruptcy and divorce cases. That’s not the best profile in my opinion for a lawyer to defend a murder charge. Many observers, myself included, believe that this case was lost when Brodsky called Stacy Peterson’s divorce lawyer as a witness and had him testify that Stacy was under the belief that Drew killed his third wife. One of the other attorneys apparently begged Brodsky not to do that and tried to stop the line of questioning as it was clearly hurting the case. Brodsky didn’t seem to play a huge role in the actual questioning of witnesses, but when he did get his shot he seemed to have butchered the case.
- Being on the same page and communicating is important. If you are charged with retail theft, you are probably going to have just one lawyer as you would for most crimes. But even then, unlike Drew’s lawyers, you need to be on the same page as to how you are going to defend the case or you are gearing up for a loss. I was told by someone who knows one of the defense attorneys (yes that is hearsay, but this case allowed it J) that the defense team only met as a group once or twice in two years. Even with some of the amazing attorneys on this case, that’s not a winning formula. The best teams work through everything together.
- Repeating a patter of behavior will catch up to you. After he appeared to get away with killing his third wife, Drew continued to bully, threaten and abuse his fourth wife and others in his life. This may be an extreme comparison, but I see a lot of bored housewives that start shop-lifting small items. They get away with it and keep doing it because of the thrill. They go on to bigger and bigger items and riskier locations. Eventually they get caught and every now and then some of them end up in jail because their latest risk is too big or the prosecutors realize it wasn’t an isolated incident.
- Finally, being likeable can keep you out of jail. Drew Peterson seems like a major league asshole even if he was innocent. It was reported that only two Will County Prosecutors wanted to bring charges against him because of the evidence being rather weak. I’ll bet a nickel that if Drew didn’t act so creepy and cocky that this case would be like hundreds of others where suspected murderers are never brought for a day in court because the prosecutors don’t think they can get a conviction. They certainly got lucky that so much hearsay evidence was allowed in, but if he wasn’t such a jerk they likely wouldn’t have tried him at all. Knowing that he isn’t likeable is in the back of every Judge’s mind whether it’s a conscious decision or not.
This was really a once in a lifetime case. But that doesn’t mean that the legal and life mistakes Drew made can’t be learned from and keep you from jail if you screw up in life. And I’m sure there are probably 1,000 other ways that not being like Drew Peterson would be good for all of us.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Uncategorized