Judge to review murder conviction
Greineder claims right was violated
It was a sensational murder trial that drew national attention: a prominent doctor from Wellesley charged with bludgeoning his wife with a hammer and slitting her throat after she discovered his secret life of prostitutes and Internet pornography.
Nearly a decade later, Dirk Greineder is asking for a new trial based in part on a claim that his constitutional right to a public trial was violated because the public was kept out of the courtroom while jurors were being chosen.
Greineder’s lawyers have some new support for their argument following a ruling last week from the state’s highest court overturning the corruption conviction of a Stoughton police officer because some of his friends and relatives were excluded from a portion of jury selection.
The high court sent the Greineder case back to Judge Paul Chernoff to issue findings on whether there was a sign on the door instructing people to keep out, whether court officers told people to stay out, and whether Greineder or his lawyers asked for a closed courtroom. Chernoff will hold a hearing on the issue today.
The Supreme Judicial Court found that officer David Cohen’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial was violated after some people were turned away by court officers or left after seeing a sign on the door that said, “Jury empanelment. Do not enter.’’
In the Greineder case, his lawyers argue the public was shut out of jury selection entirely, not just some of the time, as in Cohen’s case.
“The law on this is very powerful - the right of a public trial - and in this case there was nothing on the record to justify [closing the courtroom], it’s just something that apparently was done in the courthouse,’’ said James Sultan, Greineder’s appellate lawyer.
David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, said prosecutors are still reviewing the Cohen decision and would not comment on its potential impact on the Greineder case.
Sultan said he plans to call an assortment of witnesses at today’s hearing, including Greineder, to testify about their memories of jury selection during the 2001 trial. Greineder’s adult children and two reporters have also been called to testify.
Greineder was an allergist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at the time of the conviction.