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Joliet Lawyer Cultivating Celebrity Clientele

When the stars need legal help in Will County, they seem to head for the same lawyer.

One caused a scene in a courtroom, the other woke up in a cornfield. One of them cursed out two-sport star Neon Deion Sanders, the other one cursed out four-woman marrier Drew Peterson.

They’re both Hall-of-Famers, they have legal trouble in Will County, and they're each looking to the same man—Stephen White, Joliet’s lawyer-to-the-stars—to get him out of a jam.

White, a retired Will County judge now in private practice, represents both Cooperstown catcher Carlton Fisk, up on a drunken driving charge, and T-bone tycoon Jeff Ruby, who has a contempt of court case going in Joliet.

White, an Army veteran, downplayed his involvement in the two cases. But he has two bonafide stars among his clients, and true celebrities don’t often find themselves stuck in the Will County Courthouse.

There was heavyweight contender Andrew Golota, who got arrested in 2002 for allegedly impersonating a police officer. Nearly 10 years later prosecutors managed to turn that into a ticket for running a red light. And Bears great Brian Urlacher was around a few years ago for a child custody case against a former exotic dancer who also said she was raped by Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley. She sued Flatley for $35 million but the Lord of the Dance ended up with the last laugh when he won an $11 million settlement.

But Urlacher and Golota are ancient history. The biggest names caught in Joliet’s wheels of justice these days are Fisk and Ruby, and both the former White Sox (and Boston) backstop and the Cincinnati steak man have pinned their hopes on White to make everything all right.

Fisk, who slugged 376 homers in his 24 years in red and white socks, was arrested last week in New Lenox on a charge of driving under the influence. Police said officers found him passed out behind the wheel of his pickup truck in a cornfield.

Fisk, who was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, is due in court Nov. 29.

Ruby was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a couple weeks ago—the Neptune, N.J., High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The Jersey product now resides in Cincinnati and runs a string of steakhouses in Ohio and Kentucky. And in the middle of the Drew Peterson murder trial, he was ejected from the courthouse and later carted off to jail.

During a break in the proceedings, Ruby locked eyes with Peterson and mouthed “F--- you” at the convicted wife-killer. This sent Peterson into a tizzy and Ruby was kicked out of the building.

Not 12 hours later, plainclothes sheriff’s deputies descended on Ruby at Harrah’s Casino hotel and hauled him down to the county jail.

Now Ruby faces a contempt of court charge. Two hearings scheduled since his Aug. 23 arrest have been postponed, and Ruby said not to expect him at the next one either. He already has plans to be at the Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita the weekend prior, and getting to Joliet in time for a Monday court date doesn’t look like it’s going to work for him.

White’s stable of star clients is certainly expanding, but that’s not hard to understand when you consider he’s somewhat of a celebrity himself. White was a fixture on the TruTV court show In Session throughout the Drew Peterson trial, sharing his observations as the case dragged along over a month.

Those observations were particularly incisive, considering he presided over the Peterson case for the year and a half following the disgraced cop’s arrest on murder charges in May 2009.

White retired before Peterson’s murder trial started, but the pretrial decisions he handed down played a vital role in the way the case played out.

Ruby said he first discussed hiring White while on the In Session set outside the courthouse.

“I think Steve White is a good man,” said Ruby, who insists he is being persecuted for criticizing White’s replacement for the Peterson trial, Judge Edward Burmila.

“The case has no merit at all,” Ruby said. “It has nothing to do with Drew Peterson. It has to do with the First Amendment."

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