Einhorn case rejected by Supreme Court
Saturday, November 10, 2001
High court says no to Einhorn
By Barbara Boyer
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed convicted murderer and onetime
counterculture guru Ira Einhorn a legal defeat yesterday when justices
denied, without comment, his request that the high court seize control of
his legal odyssey.
The decision clears the way for Einhorn, who was convicted in absentia in
1993, to seek a new trial in Common Pleas Court. On Wednesday, Common Pleas
Court Judge D. Webster Keogh is scheduled to rule on Einhorn's request for a
new trial in the 1977 death of his onetime girlfriend Holly Maddux.
"I was hopeful [the Supreme Court] would take it," said Norris E. Gelman,
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime issue. It will never arise again."
Gelman said that because the case is unique and "fascinating," he thought
the high court might assume jurisdiction, under the authority called king's
bench powers. But in the high court's 23-word order released early
yesterday, it said little other than that the request "is denied."
"As far as I see, it opens the door for a new trial," said Assistant
District Attorney Joel Rosen. "Now, the ball can get rolling here."
Maddux's mummified body was found in 1979 stuffed in a trunk in the Powelton
Village apartment she and Einhorn, a prominent Philadelphia counterculture
figure and antiwar activist, had shared.
Einhorn says he was framed. He jumped bail and disappeared in 1981, shortly
before he was to go on trial. He was convicted in absentia in 1993. He
eluded authorities until 1997, when he was found living under a false name
in Champagne-Mouton, France.
To secure his return to the United States, in 1998 the Pennsylvania
legislature passed a law that granted him an unprecedented new trial upon
his return if he requested one.
Some legal scholars believe legislators violated constitutional separation
of powers and the state's post-conviction appeal deadlines, according to the
petition filed on Einhorn's behalf to the Supreme Court.
Einhorn had petitioned Common Pleas Court for a new trial, but he requested
that the court hold off until the Supreme Court ruled.
It's possible, but unlikely, Judge Keogh could deny Einhorn's request for a
new trial, lawyers said.
"Anything is possible," Rosen said.
Barbara Boyer's e-mail address is bboyer@....