JOLIET, Ill. — Drew Peterson, the former officer serving time for killing his third wife asked a judge to silence his former attorney Joel Brodsky and a judge granted the motion Thursday.
The gag order is the latest in a series of fast-moving developments after Brodsky told WGN Investigates he was considering finally revealing what happened to both of Peterson’s wives.
The judge said never in his 40 years in law has he seen an attorney threaten to betray his client’s trust in such a bold way.
“This may be the most vile crime in the U.S. but [defendants] still have a right to speak in confidence with their attorney,” Will County Judge Ed Burmila said in court.
Brodsky interrupted the hearing several times to make his arguments but the judge shut him down saying he could file motions later.
At one point, Burmila threatened to have Brodsky removed from the courtroom if he continued to interject.
“This almost goes directly to the claim there was ineffective counsel [at Peterson’s murder trial],” Burmila said.
The judge granted the gag order Thursday, but within five minutes, Brodsky appeared to violate it by walking out and speaking to WGN Investigates and another reporter. Brodsky said the question of whether he’ll reveal what happened to Peterson’s former wives is not “if” but “how.” He said: “That’s going to happen.”
Brodsky said he considers the judge’s gag order a violation of his First Amendment rights and argues that since Peterson is accusing him of ineffective counsel, Brodsky now has the right to defend himself by breaking attorney-client privilege. The judge seemed to agree, but said the case is not yet at that stage.
“If Mr. Peterson were to testify that may absolve Mr. Brodsky of any obligation he has to keep those conversations privileged,” Burmila said.
Brodsky represented Peterson in the murder trial of his third wife Kathleen Savio. The case was reopened after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007. She’s never been found and police suspect she was also murdered by Peterson.
Peterson recently filed a rather routine motion seeking to have his conviction thrown out, arguing Brodsky provided ineffective counsel, which lit Brodsky’s fuse.
Brodsky had his law license suspended for unrelated conduct two years ago and now may have nothing left to lose.
On Tuesday, WGN Investigates broadcast an interview with him in which he said the case weighed on his conscience and he was considering finally revealing what he claims Peterson told him happened to both of his wives.
That interview prompted Thursday’s emergency hearing.
Peterson’s public defender argued anything that is revealed could jeopardize Peterson’s bid for a new trial.
The judge agreed, saying, “Any reasonable person would almost view it as a threat to Mr. Peterson and I can’t let that happen.”