2009

December 2009

Libel Slander and Defamation

The Abood Law Firm is hired to defend a client who has been defamed in a news publication.

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Lansing Attorney Who Represents High-Profile Clients Speaks About Jury Trials and the Media at Cooley on January 14

Thomas M. Cooley Law School News
December 22, 2009

Lansing attorney and Cooley alumnus Andrew P. Abood, who has represented high-profile clients in cases drawing national media coverage, will discuss Jury Trials and the Media at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2009 at 5 p.m. in the Cooley Center, 300 S. Capitol Ave., room 911. Cooley students, faculty and staff as well as members of the legal community and the public are invited to attend this free event.

The event is part of the Integrity in Our Communities speaker series offered by Cooley’s Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism, and features attorneys and judges sharing their experiences as legal professionals.

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Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated / Set Aside Guilty Plea

Andrew P. Abood was successful in arguing a motion to set aside a plea of Guilty today in Eaton County 56-A District Court.
The Abood Law Firm client originally plead guity to Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated.
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Criminal Sexual Conduct Mock Trial

The Abood Law Firm conducted a Mock Trial on behalf of their client. The client was charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree. Recently the client plead guilty to the charge. The Abood Law Firm conducted the Mock Trial in order to assist the client in determining whether he should withdraw his guilty plea.

Anthony Flores, Former Ingham County Prosecutor and Cooley Law Professor, acted as lead council for the Prosecution. Andrew Abood acted as lead council for the Defense. Carrie Cousino and Clinton Van Nocker both of the Abood Law Firm played the parts of two key witnesses in the case.

The Abood Law Firm conducts Mock Trials on behalf of their clients on nearly a monthly basis. This is a tool that proves extremely valuable in determining the potential outcome of a trial.

Should any readers care to participate in these proceedings please e-mail your request to CLINT@ABOODLAW.COM

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Okemos High School Alternative Dances

Below is a letter drafted by

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Domestic Relations / Attorney Fees

Abood Law Firm received an executed order against the opposing party awarding attorney fees and costs in the amount of $25,000 out of Kent County. The award was based on the opposing party filing multiple complaints for divorce in Ingham County after Kent County had already entered a Judgment of Divorce.

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Domestic Relations / Civil Procedure

Abood Law Firm appeared before Montcalm Circuit Judge Hoort to argue Motion to set aside a default that was entered against the client. The default was entered because the client’s previous lawyer failed to appear for a pre-trial and failed to advise client of the pre-trial. The court after hearing argument, granted the Motion and permitted the Client to defend the case in order to seek a fair and equitable property settlement.

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Abood Law Firm Welcomes George D. Lenard to the Drew Peterson Defense Team

Joliet Attorney George D. Lenard is licensed to practice in five states and has 21 years of criminal defense experience.

Peterson is charged with murder in connection with the death of his third wife Kathleen Savio. His fourth wife Stacy vanished more than two years ago, but he has not been charged in connection with her disappearance. Peterson denies wrongdoing in both cases. He’s in the Will County jail awaiting trial.

“We are very pleased George will be joining our team. He is a great lawyer and has had a great deal of success in Will County,” says Peterson’s defense attorney Andrew P. Abood.

About George D. Lenard: George Lenard is licensed to practice law in Illinois, California, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan. He is a former assistant Will County State’s attorney and also is a member of the Illinois Capital Litigation Trial Bar Screening Committee, a panel responsible for investigating the qualifications of lawyers applying to represent clients in capital cases.

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Abood Law Firm Congratulates Officer Lisa Kirby

While on patrol, Officer Kirby spotted a van that met the description of one stolen by five prisoners from the Michigan Department of Corrections. The prisoners escaped from a work detail near Carson City after assaulting a corrections officer.

See the full article at:
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20091208/NEWS01/312080026

Congratulations Lisa!!

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Personal Injury Lawsuit Settled

The Abood Law Firm settles a personal injury lawsuit against drunk driver. Client was injured when drunk driver failed to yield the right of away and struck client’s vehicle.

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Abood Law Firm Retained in OWI Case in Kalamazoo County

The Abood Law Firm has been retained for a OWI Case in Kalamazoo County.

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Molly Greenwalt Admitted to Michigan Bar

Andrew Abood moved for Molly Grenwalt to be admitted to the Michigan Bar before Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman in the Michigan Supreme Court on December 7, 2009.

The event was attended by many of Molly’s friends and family including her parents who flew in from Minnesota. Also participating in the Motion was her father, Robert Hennessy who is a licensed attorney in Minnesota. Mr. Hennessy practice is focused on complex class action litigation.

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Peterson Legal Team Meets in Chicago

Andrew Abood, Joel Brodsky and Reem Odeh met in Chicago on Saturday following a hearing in the Peterson matter on Friday, December 4, 2009. Also present were staff support. Trial preparation went throughout the day and into the early evening. Optimization of trial related software programs was the focus of meeting.

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Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

F. Joseph Abood prevailed yesterday on behalf of an Abood Law Firm Client. The Livingston County Court reversed its decision upon a motion and remanded the case for an entirely new trial.

The Judge originally surpressed the testimony of the Abood Law Firm experts at trial. F. Joseph Abood was very satisfied with the result.

“This is simply not something you see often”
Congratulations are extended to both the Abood Law Firm client and F. Joseph Abood.

November 2009

Liquor license suspension lifted at The Party Store in Superior Township

Lee Higgins
AnnArbor.com
November 13, 2009

Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies are hopeful The Party Store in Superior Township will partner with them to continue to cut down on crime in the MacArthur Boulevard neighborhood.

The state Liquor Control Commission lifted the suspension of the liquor license at The Party Store on Thursday. An agreement was reached with the state attorney general’s office. The suspension will be lifted, provided the store stops selling liquor at 10 p.m. each night and hires a private security guard to work from 5 p.m. to close.

October 2009

OWI Charge against Beverley Nettles-Nickerson Dismissed

Beverly Nettles-Nickerson has been cleared of OWI charge. Judge Franklin Line issued a 4-page Opinion today in which he ruled that Judge Nickerson was not operating her vehicle when she was detained, and subsequently arrested by Meridian Township Police on May 7, 2009.

“Judge Line correctly ruled that Ms. Nickerson did nothing illegal,” said attorney Andrew P. Abood. Co-counsel Mike Nichols added: “Michigan courts state pretty clearly that just because you get in your vehicle and start the engine: it does not mean that you are operating for purposes of violating the OWI law.”

Read the FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE. (.pdf) • Read the FULL NICKERSON DECISION HERE. (.pdf)

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DON’T COME TO THIS COURT WITH UNCLEAN HANDS . . .

In a divorce case that spanned three years, through three counties, on Friday, October 2, 2009, the Kent County Circuit Court upheld the validity of its Judgment of Divorce. The issue in this case was whether the Kent County Circuit Court had subject matter jurisdiction to enter a Judgment of Divorce. Subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s “power” in the case. In Michigan, for the court to have subject matter jurisdiction, at least one of the spouses must have resided in Michigan for at least 180 days before the divorce filing and in the court’s county for at least 10 days before the divorce filing.
In this case, the husband claimed he did not reside in Kent County for at least 10 days before the Abood Law Firm’s client’s divorce filing. However, during the divorce, he signed a Judgment of Divorce admitting to subject matter jurisdiction, he represented to the Kent County Circuit Court that he was residing in Kent County, he benefited from the Judgment of Divorce, he executed an amendment to the Judgment of Divorce and orders related to it to divide property, and he tried to enforce the Judgment of Divorce on numerous occasions in Kent County. Before signing the Judgment of Divorce, he met with his attorney and discussed the residency issue. He admitted that, although he knew of the residency requirements, he thought and represented to the client that residency would not be a problem.
Not so. In an ethics investigation, whether he resided in Kent County, and who knew when, was a huge problem. In that investigation, he represented that he did not reside in Kent County. He also committed perjury, claiming that he was present there for two weeks when, in fact, he was not. His perjury came out under cross-examination by attorney Andrew P. Abood during an evidentiary hearing before the Kent County Circuit Court in September. That, his successive divorce filings in Ingham County, and his failure to abide a Kent County judge’s instructions to schedule a hearing in 2007 to discuss his residency, were the death knell to his credibility.
The Kent County Circuit Court issued an Opinion scathing in its analysis of him. Whether he in fact resided in Kent County as required was irrelevant to this Court – his unclean hands were. According to the Court, it is unfair to relieve him of his assertions during the divorce and allow a “do over” now. He induced the divorce filing and Judgment of Divorce entry in this Court, with full knowledge of the residency requirements. He took advantage of the Court. And he failed to follow the Court’s instructions.
In the Court’s words, one cannot come to a court seeking relief with these unclean hands.

September 2009

Abood Law Firm prepares for oral arguments

Oral Arguments are scheduled for October 2, 2009 in the Drew Peterson case regarding the Defendant’s motion that the hearsay law past in November of 2008 and applied to a death from 2004 violates that ex post facto provision of the United States Constitution. In addition, the Motion also asserts that because the statute admits hearsay, that the statute violates Defendants right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution.

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Residency Requirement litigated in divorce case.

The Abood Law Firm appeared Friday, September 25, 2009, in Kent County to litigate an issue whether a 3-year-old judgment of divorce was void because the allegation in the complaint that the Defendant resided in Kent County was not true (according to the Defendant). The hearing began at approximately 9:45 and continued to almost 1:00pm. During the course of the presentation of evidence, the Defendant admitted that he had lied under oath in a prior proceeding regarding the issues before the Court. The Court permitted the parties to submit post closing briefs which are due Wednesday, September 30, 2009. Watch for future postings of the brief.

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Not Guilty Verdict for client charged with failing to perform order of a police officer.

A jury returned a verdict of not guilty Friday, September 25, 2009, for a 15 year old client of the Abood Law Firm. The trial began on Monday, September 21, 2009 in Eaton County. It continued Wednesday, Thurdsay of the same week. On Friday the jury began deliberations. The issue for the jury was whether the Police Officer gave a lawful order to the 15 year old student of Waverly High School.

The case was set in the Waverly High School administration office, where the client, a 15 year old student at the high school was suspected of possessing marijuana. An allegation he denied. He was subsequently searched by a Sheriff’s deputy and no drugs were found. After the search, we pack up his personal property and was leaving when he was told by a security guard that he had to remain in the office. He attempted to leave and some pushing and shoving ensued with the security guard. The Deputy came back into the room and ordered him to put down a comb that was the Defendants. As a result, the Deputy grabbed the student, eventually took him to the ground and handcuffed him. As a result of this conduct the client was charged with a 2 year felony.

 


 

August 2009

2007-2008 Case Studies

Client uses phone call wisely
The Abood law firm filed a Motion in 55th District Court to suppress the breathalyzer for failing to follow the proper procedure by making the proper 15 minute observation prior to administering the breathalyzer. At the hearing, Andrew P. Abood testified on behalf of the client because on the night in question, the client used her one phone call to request legal advice. Andrew Abood appeared that the police station and was permitted to observe the administration of the breathalyzer. As an observer Abood noted that the law enforcement agency did not follow the proper procedure of observing the defendant for 15 minutes before the breathalyzer is administered. At the hearing, testifying on behalf of the client, Abood noted the failure in procedure by the law enforcement agent. The court agreed, and order that the breathalyzer be suppressed. As a result, the defendant was offered and civil infraction to resolve the case.

Abood Law Firm gets drug charge dismissed
Pre trial motion are often critical in determining the outcome of a case, and this was certainly true in the matter of People v Stearns. In this case, the People made an offer of a plea whereby the Defendant was charged with possession of cocaine a four year felony. the defendant came in contact with police, after the vehicle he was a passenger in was stopped for a cracked windshield. Although the driver was driving on a suspended license, police had no reason to question or search the defendant. The police did search the defendant which is how the contraband was discovered. Recognizing the problems with the search and the premise that the 4th amendment to the United State Constitution was intended to protect citizens from being unreasonably searched by the government, the Abood Law Firm filed a Motion to Suppress the fruits of the unlawful search. At hearing was held where two State Troopers testified, as well as the Defendant. In a unique move, the Abood law Firm subpoena the police officers to produce the very contraband that was seized and had the defendant wear the pants that he had worn the day of his arrest.

“I thought it would be important for the judge to see exactly how the contraband was situated in the Defendant’s pants, and to see how difficult it would be to determine what exactly was in the Defendant’s pants at the time he was being searched,” explained Andrew P. Abood. The court agreed that the State Police did not have reasonable cause to search the Defendant and ruled that the search violated the 4th amendment to the United State Constitution. The charge was dismissed.

Jury Returns Verdict of Not Guilty of Murder
In October of 2007, a Jury of 12 returned a verdict of not guilty on a charge of Open Murder against Shamari Milton, a man who has been diagnosed as blind. The Abood Law Firm, assumed representation of Mr. Milton in February of 2007 with the assistance of Charles Ford. Mr. Milton was a relative of Charles Ford, Ford requested the assistance of the Abood Law Firm in defending his cousin.

The story within the story is that it was widely known that the Abood Law Firm was taking the case pro bono. Mr. Milton was on social security disability from a gun shoot he had suffered to his head in August of 2006. The trial court recognizing the complexities of the case, exercised its discretion and appointed experts to assistance in the defense of Mr. Milton. The trial court also appointed the Abood Law Firm to represent Mr. Milton for trial. Following trial the Abood Law Firm petitioned the court for approval of the expert witness fees in the approximate amount of $18,000. The trial court approved the expense. Upon submission of the bill to the County for payment the County refused to pay the bill in what turned out to be a unique circumstance. Recognizing that the County had no legal authority to deny payment once having an order entered, the Abood Law Firm filed an Original Complaint for Superintending in Control in the Michigan Court of Appeals.

“Although our firm has handled a number of high profile and high stress cases, probably no case had higher stakes than this,“ Andrew P. Abood was quoted as saying. Ultimately, the County recognized that the procedure followed by the Abood Law Firm was proper and agreed to pay the expert fees and the Abood Law Firm 100% of what it had requested. “This case in many ways reflects the problems with our obligation to provide defendants who are indigent with a defense. I am glad that in the moment when we could have cowered or compromised we stood our ground on principle and did what was right. There is nothing that quenches your thirst better than vindication.”

Abood Law Firm is retained on case that brings national attention
In November of 2007, the Abood Law Firm was retained to represent Drew Peterson of Will County, Illinois. Working with co-counsel Joel Brodsky, the Abood Law Firm has been representing Drew Peterson arising out of an investigation of the death of his 3rd wife and disappearance of his 4th wife. To date, Drew Peterson has not been charged in the death or disappearance of either wife.

In a related matter, the Abood Law Firm played a pivotal role in Peterson’s motion to have his property returned that was seized pursuant to various search warrants issued by the Illinois State Police. The Abood Law Firm retained and examined expert Forensic Scientist Ann Chamberlain to establish that there would be no need for the continued retention of the property. The court agreed an ordered that the property including the defendant 8 firearms be returned. The same day at the court made its ruling, the State revoked Drew Peterson’s FOID card which was his permit to possess firearms. Brodsky and Abood filed a Motion to return the firearms to Drew Peterson’s son, also a sworn law enforcement officer in the State of Illinois. The court agreed that the firearms could be returned to Drew Peterson’s son. The State’s attorney, then charged Drew Peterson with possession of an illegal firearm. Counsel for Drew Peterson has moved to dismiss this charge as being barred by a federal statute, 18 USC 926B, which grants immunity to any sworn police officer from being charged under state law for possessing an illegal firearm.

What does due process mean? Due process is typically the right to have notice and a right to a hearing. This issue is particular important in the context of personal protection orders which are routinely issued against a party ex parte. Ex parte means that an adverse ruling is made without notice or a right to be hear before the relief is granted. Under the personal protection court rule, a court of competent jurisdiction can issue a personal protection order without notice or the right to be heard if a petitioner properly alleges fact sufficient to grant a personal protection order.

A respondent has a right to a hearing after the fact within 14 days of the personal protection order being issued. In the case of Peterson v Peterson, the Abood Law Firm was retained to challenge a personal protection order issued by an Ingham County Probate Judge. The petitioner also argued that the Defendant should be show caused for violating the ppo. On the court date, the Judge refused to hold a hearing to determine whether the ppo should have been issued because the court found the respondent in contempt of court for giving a letter to a friend who later gave it to the petitioner. The Abood Law Firm appealed and in an decision issued by the Court of Appeals, the court of Appeals ruled that the Ingham County Probate Court failed to give Mr. Peterson due process by denying him his right to a hearing. The Court of Appeals ruled that Mr. Peterson was entitled to a hearing within 14 days.

Banks pays debtor to foreclose on property and assets
The Abood Law Firm represented a debtor against a bank and the bans foreclosure of assets including a longstanding family business, it personal property, accounts receivables, accounts, real estate, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy. The Abood Law Firm on behalf of the debtor countersued for breaching its obligation to the debtor. The bank agreed to pay the debtor a cash settlement in excess of six figures and released the personal guarantor of a liability in excess of $1,500,000. The bank also agreed that the debtor could keep significant accounts receivables. “When a party engages in conduct that is improper, there comes a time and place when one must stand on principle and although we typically think of banks as doing everything by the letter of the law, this isn’t always the case.” Andrew P. Abood was quoted as saying. He went on to point out that “this firm has always stood for principle that for every wrong there is a remedy, and this is what this case typifies.”

Law Student acquitted of Motor Vehicle Misdemeanor
A law student traveling to Cooley Law School was stopped by an Eaton County Sheriff and ticketed for failing to get in the far lane when passing a police officer who is stopped on the side of the road in violation of state law. Not able to resolve the case prior to trial, the case went to a jury. The Abood Law Firm pointed out a number of errors in the police officers report including failing to properly identify the color of the Defendant’s vehicle. In an unique request, Defense counsel requested that the jury leave the courtroom to view the vehicle. The request was granted. As the jury walked out to the parking lot, one jury was noted as saying, “yep that is not black.” The jury was out 15 minutes and returned a verdict of not guilty.

Judge dismisses Petition to Terminate Parental Rights
One unique aspect of civil cases in comparison to criminal cases, is the right to conduct formal discovery in a civil case which is not permitted in a criminal case other than at the preliminary examination or other evidential hearing. The significance is the inability to conduct depositions. Thus when there is a defendant is faced with both a criminal charge and a complimentary civil action it is often times important to use the civil action to insulate a defendant from prosecution criminally. This is done through the taking of depositions and engaging in discovery of witnesses that wouldn’t typically be permitted or who typically wouldn’t cooperate in a case that is solely criminal.

This is what occurred in a case wherein a Defendant was initially accused of sexually assaulting his step daughter, and then the Prosecutor moved through Child Protective Services to terminate his parental rights to his son. The Abood Law Firm, on behalf of his client, refused the government any opportunity to interview his client — protecting those rights set forth in the 5th amendment to the United State Constitution. The Abood Law Firm was successful in obtaining parenting rights for their client despite the pendency of the parental termination case and then then began taking video deposition of the “alleged” victim and her mother, the cps agent, and along with the son. Once the court viewed the video deposition of the son, it was clear to the court that the petition was meritless and the charge was dismissed.

Abood Law Firm achieves $1,000,000+ property settlement in divorce
There is an old saying, “what goes around comes around.” On July 4, 2007, the Abood Law Firm was contacted by a client who had been charged with assault and battery by her husband and was going through a divorce. She was 65 years old and her husband and wife had a long time business that was very successful. Initially the Abood Law Firm was retained to handle the criminal charge, and within 60 days it was dismissed.

Shortly thereafter the client elected to have the Abood Law Firm represent her on the divorce case as well. Through the Abood Law Firm diligence numerous accounting improprieties were discovered on the party of the other spouse in operating the business. It became clear that the business was generating significantly more money then represented by the opposing spouse. The case proceeded to facilitative mediation. “I explained to the facilitative mediator, who is one of the most respected in this area in Michigan, that my client was willing to settle the case but she wasn’t interested in being fair not based on everything that he has done her. I knew when the continued to proceed with facilitation that I could make demands on opposing side and get concessions that might not be typical and as such we made such demands and got such concessions. According to our calculations, the ultimate property settlement resulted in my client being awarded about 66 percent of the assets and then on top of that the opposing party agreed to pay alimony for 5 years. It was clearly a victory for my client.”

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Motion to Exclude Hearsay

Drew Peterson’s defense team files motion to have hearsay declared unconstitutional as violating the ex post facto provision of the United States Constitution.

Download the motion (.pdf, 96k)

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Peterson Appeal Brief Released

On November 20, 2008, the Will County Circuit Court dismissed an indictment against Drew Peterson for possession of a firearm with a barrel length of less than 16 inches. The State’s Attorney appealed, and the Abood Law Firm and the law firm of Brodsky and Odeh responded in the attached brief, which the Abood Law Firm filed in the Appellate Court for the Third District yesterday. In the underlying case, the State refused to comply with the Circuit Court’s discovery orders, and our firms fought the State’s conduct. Oral arguments are pending in the Appellate Court, with reply briefs from both parties due in the upcoming months. Check our website regularly for updates.

Download the full brief (.pdf, 600k)

 


 

May 2009

Drew Peterson pleads not guilty to 3rd wife’s murder

CNN
May 18, 2009

Drew Peterson pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The former police officer entered the plea in a Will County, Illinois, courtroom, said Charles Pelkie, a spokesman for the state’s attorney in the county. Peterson remains in jail with bond set at $20 million,

he said.
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Drew Peterson Arrested Over Third Wife’s Murder

Michael S. James, Scott Michels, and Andrea Beaumont
ABC News
May 8, 2009

Drew Peterson, the ex-cop under investigation for his fourth wife Stacy Peterson’s 2007 disappearance, has been jailed on two first-degree murder counts in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, authorities said.

“I’ve been through hell,” Savio’s sister, Susan Doman, told ABC News amid Peterson’s arrest. “Hopefully, he’s gonna get what’s coming to him.”

Peterson, 55, was being held at the Will County Adult Detention Facility in Joliet, Ill., with bond set at $20 million, and could face 60 years in jail, Will County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow said.

“This is a grave and serious matter, and I think that’s reflected in the bond,” Glasgow told reporters.

“We are very confident in our case,” he added.


January 2009

Former Ingham judge in court today for drunken driving hearing

Nettles-Nickerson’s attorney, Andrew Abood, says in court documents that a Meridian Township police officer “deliberately provided false information”…

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Battle Over the Estate of Drew Peterson’s Ex-Wife Heads to Court

Drew Peterson and his uncle James Carroll appealed the re-opening of the Kathleen Savio estate and the appointment of Ann Mario Doman and Henry Savio, Savio’s siblings, as new joint executors.

Read the full article