UPDATE: Norcross to take the stand in Inquirer case

     New Jersey businessman and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, George Norcross, left, meets with attorney Michael Chertoff outside Judge Patricia McInerney's courtroom during a recess, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    New Jersey businessman and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, George Norcross, left, meets with attorney Michael Chertoff outside Judge Patricia McInerney's courtroom during a recess, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at City Hall in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    10 a.m. Update: As it turns out, George Norcross will not take the stand today. Go figure.

    Today, finally, George under oath.

    To partisans of fired Philadelphia Inquirer editor Bill Marimow, the heavy in the case is George Norcross, a titan of South Jersey Democratic politics who’s recently become a more public figure and now a co-owner of the region’s largest media company.

    A year and a half after he invested in the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, Norcross is at war with Lewis Katz, the other principal investor and the man who sued Norcross over Marimow’s dismissal.

    Though Marimow was fired Oct. 7 by publisher Bob Hall, Katz believes Hall was carrying out Norcross’ agenda.

    Reporters who’ve worked in Jersey say that for years Norcross was aggressive in trying to influence coverage, lobbying reporters and selectively leaking information. Many worried Norcross or other owners wouldn’t be able to resist meddling in news coverage, but several days of testimony have so far yielded little evidence of anyone intervening to protect a personal or political interest.

    Katz testified that some people Hall wanted fired had had run-ins with Lexie Norcross, George Norcross’ daughter who’s an executive at Philly.com. And Hall was asked Friday about objections he voiced to a front-page investigative story about a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, but there was no testimony that the objections involved Norcross or political motives.

    While Judge Patricia McInerney is limiting the hearing to the owners’ understanding of who could or couldn’t fire Marimow under their original agreement, attorneys on both sides will work hard to show the owner on the other side of the case was up to no good.

    I’l let you know what happens.

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