Updated 10/30/12 – 4:47 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Drew Peterson’s longtime attorney Joel Brodsky has withdrawn from the Peterson case – at least for now.
Joel Brodsky has represented Drew Peterson for five years – since right after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared.
There’s been some infighting and finger-pointing among Peterson’s attorneys since he was found guilty of murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Most of the conflict has centered around Brodsky.
He insisted he was not fired from the legal team, and withdrew on his own, because he had become a distraction lately.
“I have decided to remove that distraction. That’s exactly the way I saw it,” Brodsky said. “This was my decision. As a matter of fact, Drew wanted me to stay in.”
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Peterson’s attorneys put on a united front in public after trial each day, but after Peterson was convicted, the defense team seemed to crumble.
“The defense team was fractured. People were pointing fingers, some at me. I was pointing fingers at other members, or other member. And the case was not moving forward, and somebody had to do something,” Brodsky said.
As Peterson’s lead attorney, Brodsky said it was up to him to do something to get the appeal moving forward.
“If somebody was gonna fall on their sword, it was gonna be me as the former captain of the ship,” Brodsky said.
Attorney David Peilet has joined the defense team, and he said he’ll determine if Brodsky’s and other attorneys’ actions have been ineffective.
Peilet said he does not consider himself the lead attorney, and he said Joe Lopez and Steve Greenberg will stay on as co-counsels.
“We’re all going to remain as one,” he said. “It’s just important that everybody work together; that there not be conflicting egos, there not be conflicting personalities; make collective decisions as a team, no back-stabbing, no finger-pointing.”
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, according to sources, Brodsky and defense attorney Steve Greenberg almost came to blows in a courtroom hallway during the case. Greenberg has publicly accused Brodsky of botching the case by calling Savio’s divorce attorney, Harry Smith, to testify during the trial, against the advice of the rest of Peterson’s legal team.
Smith testified that Stacy Peterson told him Peterson murdered third wife Kathleen Savio.
But Brodsky said the jury would have convicted Peterson anyway – even if he hadn’t called Smith to the stand – and he said it would not be a basis for appealing the verdict.
“That whole thing with Smith is not and cannot amount, by law, to a reversible error. It was a strategic decision, and those do not amount to ineffective [counsel] or even a legal mistake. Just because an idea or a strategy does not work doesn’t mean it was wrong. It was right at the time.”
So while Brodsky said he’s withdrawn – that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s gone for good. He said he will help file motions for Peterson’s appeal, if needed. Those motions are due Nov. 16.
Peilet said he’s not sure how he was chosen to join the Peterson team.
“I’m not sure, but Mr. Peterson contacted me by phone and asked me if I would come to see him and consult with him,” Peilet said.
Peilet said he’s talked to Peterson about the change in attorneys, and said “Drew’s just excited about the fact that the case is now going to move forward.”
Post-trial motions are due Nov. 16. Peilet said he will reach a decision on his evaluation of the effectiveness Peterson’s attorneys by then.