The Drew Peterson Trial: A Rare Look Into Jury Deliberations

I came across this article from the Tribune in which several jurors from the Drew Peterson trial discuss —in some depth—how they came to the decision to convict him. It’s worth a read and leaves me with a tangential thought…

One of Peterson’s defense attorneys made a very controversial decision to call a divorce lawyer and said lawyer introduced hearsay statements from Stacy (one of Peterson’s former wives) indicating that she knew he’d killed the decedent. It was widely considered a major blunder (see here, for example) and a juror has acknowledged that it was this hearsay that lead the jury to feel sure Peterson was the murderer.

Could this be grounds for a reversal under Strickland for ineffective assistance? Peterson’s lawyer claimed it was a strategic decision but it’s hard to see how a reasonable lawyer could have come to such a conclusion. Nor is there any doubt that this testimony prejudiced Peterson since a juror acknowledged it was the deciding factor. Might we see a new trial of Peterson in a few years because of this? I guess we’ll have to wait and see but it’s certainly not the weakest case for post-conviction relief. Not by a long shot…

-Zachary Cloud

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