Request for new trial brings more drama to Drew Peterson defense team
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org October 10, 2012 4:26PM
Updated: November 12, 2012 11:55AM
Attorney John Paul Carroll doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him, or his work in court.
“When I go into court, nobody laughs. The greatest compliment I ever got was from a state’s attorney who said, ‘When Carroll’s involved, you have to pay attention.’”
Carroll, of Naperville, was called in to consult with Drew Peterson on issues with his pension.
But Tuesday Carroll and his partner Michelle Gonzalez filed a motion for a new trial for Peterson based on Peterson’s claims that his lead attorney, Joel Brodsky, provided ineffective assistance.
The motion was written up after Peterson asked to meet with Carroll and Gonzalez, Carroll said, and Judge Edward Burmila approved a face-to-face meeting at the county jail.
“I think Mr. Brodsky fooled pretty much himself” when he thought he could handle the murder trial, Carroll said.
The motion lists 14 reasons why Peterson believes Brodsky failed in his representation of Peterson, including lying to his client, encouraging Peterson to generate as much publicity as possible, preventing Peterson from hiring additional lawyers and in calling Harry Smith, a witness who was a key part of Peterson’s conviction, to testify during the trial when Peterson did not want him to.
The motion also includes a scathing 15-page letter Attorney Steve Greenberg sent Brodsky after Peterson “fired” Greenberg from his defense team. Greenberg recently filed a motion to withdraw from the case, but the issue was postponed after he spoke with Peterson.
Asked about the motion Tuesday night, Brodsky said it was “absolute insanity,” and “bizarre beyond belief.”
Brodsky restated those beliefs Wednesday.
“For example, it says I never tried a felony jury. I tried my first felony jury trial 18 years ago,” Brodsky said. “He puts in there that I’ve never tried one. That just goes to show you how absolutely and positively, without any basis at all, his motion is.”
Brodsky said he talked on Wednesday to Peterson, who told him he did not want Carroll to file the motion, which Carroll disputed.
“You can believe whatever Brodsky says, I frankly don’t care,” Carroll said. “I’m doing whatever I think I should do for my client.”
Carroll knows what it’s like to be accused of providing ineffective assistance. He once ratted himself out for the same thing.
In 2008, Carroll represented two brothers from Aurora in a Kane County murder trial. Jaime and Edgar Castro were convicted of the 2007 murder of Julio Gurrola in May 2008. A month later, Carroll admitted he did not tell the brothers about a plea deal from prosecutors until after they were convicted and facing sentences of 45 and 35 years in prison.
A judge allowed the brothers to consider the plea deal instead of going through a new trial.
They took the deal — pleading guilty to armed violence with a 15-year sentence — and their convictions were reversed.
A complaint was filed with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission over the case. After a hearing on the complaint in October 2011, a panel recommended Carroll be suspended for three months, according to commission records.
Carroll appealed the panel’s findings, and a hearing on the appeal was held in September, commission spokesman Jim Grogan said. It could take two to four months for a decision on the appeal, Grogan said. Then the suspension would be ultimately decided by the state supreme court.
Until the issue is decided, Carroll is authorized to practice law as usual.
“I was helping my clients too much,” Carroll said. “It’s a little different than I stole some of their money (or) had sex with their mother.”
At the time Peterson was charged with Savio’s murder in 2009, Brodsky said Carroll was expected to join the team.
Carroll said he didn’t because Brodsky wanted complete control of the case.
“I told Mr. Brodsky, ‘You can take all the publicity, I can go out the side door.’ I thought that would endear me to him,” Carroll said.
Brodsky said Wednesday he didn’t let Carroll in on the Peterson case because of his disciplinary problems.
“Carroll has been trying to get into this case for years now,” Brodsky said. “He’s just obsessed.”
The motion Carroll filed has created uncertainty about what happens next in Peterson’s case.
Carroll “has created a situation where all the attorneys become witnesses, and quite possibly will be all off the case,” said Joseph “Shark” Lopez, a member of Peterson’s trial team.
He added that he believes none of Peterson’s defense team can proceed with post-trial motions now that the allegation of ineffective assistance exists.
“The court definitely has to intercede in the case and make a determination as to who the attorneys are going to be,” Lopez said. That could include the judge asking Peterson directly who he wants to have as his lawyers, he said, which could happen as soon as a scheduled court hearing Friday.
“It’s awkward, and at this point it’s more harmful than good,” Lopez said. “We have to focus on the sentencing issues, not on what happened at trial.”
But Carroll said by filing the motion, it allows Peterson to make the ineffective assistance claim on appeal.