This Chicago Criminal attorney isn't surprised by the recent ruling in the Drew Peterson case. She’s worried about the state of the Constitution. How many blows can it take before it’s on the rings?
In this case the prosecution’s case against a very, very unpopular suspect is weak. The ability to tie Drew Peterson to the murder of his wife Stacy Peterson ( he’s a suspect) and his former wife Kathleen Savio has been difficult. The case was so weak that new legislation that would eviscerate the Constitution became law. It would permit all types of hearsay that previously would not be permitted. Everyone knew the legislation was about the Drew Peterson case and not surprisingly, the law was called Drew’s Law.
It looks like doing an end run around our Constitution has backfired for the government:
Saddled with a botched police investigation, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow pushed for a state law that would allow prosecutors to use hearsay statements against Drew Peterson at trial.
Dubbed Drew's Law by legal experts and legislators, Glasgow hailed the bill's passage as a way of letting Peterson's third and fourth wives speak from the grave.
But now in an ironic move to convict Peterson, Glasgow finds himself fighting the law he helped create.
On the eve of Peterson's much-anticipated murder trial, Glasgow delayed the case Thursday by appealing a ruling on the admissibility of some hearsay evidence. He argues that the judge's decision — made under the guidelines established by Drew's Law — should have adhered instead to less-restrictive common law.
"Is he arguing with a forked tongue?" asked defense attorney Terry Sullivan, who also prosecuted John Wayne Gacy. "I would say yes. But he has to argue what falls in his lap. He's doing the right thing."
Glasgow's involvement in the case began shortly after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in October 2007. The police officer's third wife, Kathleen Savio, had apparently drowned in a bathtub in 2004, and a quick review of her then-closed case showed signs of a mishandled investigation.
Police collected no evidence from the death scene. They didn't look into Savio's repeated claims of domestic abuse. And they interviewed Stacy Peterson — who provided her husband's alibi — with him sitting beside her.
Glasgow ordered Savio's body exhumed in November 2007, and her death later was reclassified as a homicide. Within a year, the state legislature passed a law expanding the forms of admissible hearsay at trial.
At the time, Glasgow maintained that the new statute simply codified common law and provided a helpful road map on how to determine the admissibility of secondhand testimony. The new statute requires judges to consider two things: whether the statement is reliable and whether the bulk of the evidence shows that the defendant made the witness unavailable to testify.
To no one's surprise, the law's first big test came from Peterson's murder case. Peterson, now 56, was arrested in May 2009 and charged with killing Savio amid a contentious property settlement. He has not been charged in Stacy's disappearance, though he remains a suspect.
He denies wrongdoing in both cases.
After a landmark hearsay hearing this year, Judge Stephen White sided with prosecutors in finding that the preponderance of evidence suggested Peterson killed Savio and caused Stacy's disappearance. The "preponderance" standard does not imply that Peterson would be found guilty at trial because the burden of proof is lower than the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard imposed on juries.
Right now, the matter is going up on appeal. The problem is the appeal could take a very long time and during that time Mr. Peterson, the accused must sit. The judge has not set any bond that would permit him to be released. Quite simply, he must sit in jail, with an inability to go to trial, while the government winds its way through the appeals process.
Not a good day for justice in the United States when the government can decide to have you held without the ability for you to go to trial. That’s the scary part. It has nothing do with whether you think Peterson is guilty of murder or a despicable human being, in this country the accused gets to have his day in court and right now Peterson can’t have that.