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AN EVENING WITH DAVID RUDOLF Lawyer at centre of true crime series The Staircase heads out on UK tour
The startling image of Kathleen Peterson lying at the bottom of a staircase at her home in Forest Hills, North Carolina, leaves a lasting impression. Soon after her death in 2001, her husband Michael Peterson was arrested for her murder and French i lmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade documented behind the scenes of his trial with defence lawyer David Rudolf. The Staircase observes the inner workings of the American justice system, leading the viewer on a thorny investigation that has lasted for 16 years. Rudolf has specialised in high-proi le criminal and civil rights cases for more than 25 years and is touring the UK over the next few months to speak about the case. What were his worries about allowing a crew to i lm him? ‘My concerns were pretty much attorney / client privilege concerns and about the prosecution being able to get a hold of our strategies before the trial,’ Rudolf explains. ‘We took certain steps to protect ourselves against that. We agreed that any of the i lm would be sent immediately over
to France, so the prosecution would have to go through international procedures to get that footage back.’ The Staircase has now ofi cially wrapped but features
a revelatory interview with the presiding judge. Rudolf explains how he felt watching that footage, saying, ‘I thought it was very courageous for Judge Hudson to admit on camera that he may have made a mistake in his legal rulings and at least the way I heard it was that he had a reasonable doubt about Mr Peterson’s guilt. I think both of those things were both unusual. I had never seen a judge so candidly talk about a case that he had presided over. On the other hand, I sat there and thought to myself, this is a little bit late for me and for Michael. Why didn’t you listen to our arguments 15 years ago when they really would have mattered?’ (Katherine McLaughlin) ■ The Staircase is available on Netl ix now. An Evening with David Rudolf, O2 Academy, Glasgow, Mon Nov 26; Queens Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 25 Nov.
1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 129