Pennsylvania Superior Court denied a request Friday for an expedited appeal of a trial judge's order reinstating Inquirer editor William K. Marimow, pushing into 2014 its consideration of the issue that has set rival groups of owners battling publicly for control of the newspaper's parent company.
The court said the group led by co-owner George E. Norcross III could again petition for a quicker court schedule after the certified record of last month's proceedings in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court is filed with Superior Court by Jan. 27.
The decision was unsigned and included no explanation.
Norcross, joined by three partners and publisher Robert J. Hall, asked Superior Court to overturn the Nov. 22 preliminary injunction that gave Marimow his job back.
They argued that the trial judge erred by ignoring a provision of the partnership contract barring the owners from interfering in the newsroom, which they say is causing continuing damage to The Inquirer's credibility.
Co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who filed the initial suit to undo Marimow's Oct. 7 firing, argue that there was sufficient evidence to back up Judge Patricia A. McInerney's decision that the dismissal violated the partners' contract because Katz had not approved it.
Under their agreement, Katz and Norcross were to have joint operational control over major business decisions for the paper, as well as the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, the other properties of Interstate General Media.
"We are encouraged that the Superior Court wants to review the complete record of this hearing and has invited a motion to expedite the briefing of this important issue," said Dan Fee, a spokesman for Norcross.
Lawyers for Katz and Lenfest portrayed the appellate court's decision as a rebuke to the group led by Norcross.
"We are gratified with the ruling of the Superior Court that no special consideration should be given to Mr. Norcross," attorney Richard Sprague said in a statement.