Judge Allows Public Access to Peterson Hearing - NBC Chicago

Judge Allows Public Access to Peterson Hearing

"We've done everything we can too protect the integrity of the proceedings," Judge Stephen White says



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    Former Bolingbrook Police Sergeant Drew Peterson

    A Will County judge ruled Friday to deny Drew Peterson's request that the public be barred from an upcoming hearing where the state will reveal critical evidence it intends to use in Peterson's trial.

    "We've done everything we can too protect the integrity of the proceedings," said Judge Stephen White.  "It is the right of everyone to have the evidence against them presented in open court."

    Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky had argued that allowing the media to witness the 15 so-called "hearsay statements" would potentially taint the jury pool.

    "A lot of this is going to be fairly sensational," he said of the statements prosecutors intend to use. Many of the statements were purportedly made by Peterson's deceased third wife, and his fourth wife who is missing.  "It will be impossible for the jurors to avoid [the coverage]," he said.

    But prosecutor James Glasgow vehemently implored White to keep the hearing open. "You've all heard of the Spanish Inquisition. Close the doors, bad things can happen," he said. "In the United States, we don't do that!"

    Pointing at the assembled reporters, Glasgow told the judge, "The press is scrutinizing me, they're scrutinizing you, to make sure we do it by the rules!"

    The "Drew Peterson Law," as it's called, was approved by the state legislature last July.  It allows hearsay to be admitted as evidence in cases where prosecutors believe the victim was killed specifically to prevent them from testifying.  Similar laws exist in 12 other states, including Wisconsin.

    Peterson's attorneys contend the law is unconstitutional because it would allow gossip, rumor and innuendo to enter the court. They also say it would be unconstitutional to use a law passed after a crime was committed.

    Peterson is being held in the Will County Adult Detention Facility in Joliet on first-degree murder charges surrounding the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.  Many suspect he also had something to do with the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.  He maintains his innocence.