Each day of former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson’s murder trial, his defense team argues his case for several hours in front of jurors in a tiny courtroom. More often than not, they also spend at least a few minutes each day making their case in front of a bank of television cameras that beam their avowals of innocence to the world, says the Chicago Tribune. Joel Brodsky, Joseph Lopez, and Steve Greenberg appear almost daily on “In Session,” a TruTV show that is broadcasting up to six hours of commentary of Peterson coverage daily. Lopez is blogging the trial for the Chicago Sun-Times and occasionally tweets during breaks in the trial or on his ride home.
Greenberg has fumed about scathing commentary from Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro that aired the previous weekend, and Nancy Grace of cable network HLN has badgering Brodsky on her show. “These pundits have a single-mindedness in trying to see people convicted regardless of what’s fair and not fair. They’ve already made up their minds that he’s guilty,” said Greenberg. While prosecutors are barred by ethical rules — and the risk of providing grounds for an appeal — from offering more than the most vanilla commentary in a criminal trial, defense lawyers can say pretty much anything they want, says Northwestern University journalism Prof. Jack Doppelt. Attorneys see benefits to an aggressive media offensive campaign, including a chance to bias the jury pool, annoy close-lipped prosecutors, and, not least, get free advertising. “Some of them may be thinking they’re going to get a book deal or a movie deal after the trial” — Peterson has already been the subject of several books and a TV movie — “and in this case, they probably will,” Doppelt said.