A Philadelphia trial judge's order to reinstate Inquirer editor William K. Marimow "threatens the paper's reputation and credibility" by rendering meaningless the owners' pledge not to interfere with news coverage, a group of the owners said Wednesday in a new filing.
Co-owner George E. Norcross III, joined by three partners and publisher Robert J. Hall, have asked Superior Court to overturn the Nov. 22 preliminary injunction that gave Marimow his job back.
The document their lawyers filed Wednesday was a response to one filed Tuesday by lawyers for the other side - co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest. They argued that there was sufficient evidence to back up Judge Patricia A. McInerney's decision to reinstate Marimow - and no reason to grant their rivals' request for a speedier-than-normal review.
Lawyers for the Norcross-led group disagree. Because it mandated the return of the editor, they said, the injunction is important enough under the law to justify a quick reconsideration.
Their brief, which supplemented the appeal they filed last week, also said the judge's order was tantamount to a "continuing violation" of their clients' contract rights under the agreement establishing The Inquirer's parent company, Interstate General Media.
That includes a provision stating that the owners would not "directly or indirectly" try to influence issues of journalism.
In addition, they noted that Marimow's contract ends April 30, so the issue must be decided by then.
Typically, Superior Court appeals take at least six months, according to lawyers familiar with the court. The court can order faster consideration.
McInerney found that Marimow's Oct. 7 firing violated the partners' contract because Katz had not approved it.
Under their partnership agreement, Katz and Norcross were to have joint control over major business decisions for the paper and Interstate General.