Einhorn enlisted the services of Ted Simon, an expert in international law and a brilliant attorney, to fight the extradition process. Simon did so by citing established rules of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), to which France is a party and an active defender. The rules deny the legitimacy of trials in absentia, especially when the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. In French and European jurisprudence, trials in absentia deny the suspect the right to defend themself in a court of law and make a mockery of the presumption of innocence, the cornerstones of any just legal system.
In addition, under the ECHR, France is prevented from deporting or extraditing anyone within its borders to a country where they are not guaranteed a fair trial. Under the existing Pennsylvanian law, Einhorn would have had no recourse to a new trial and he would have been imprisoned immediately under the terms of the 1993 sentence upon his arrival back on American soil. Simon demonstrated that Einhorn would not have been granted a new trial and, at that time, enjoyed little to no appellate rights. The extradition application failed in the French courts and on 4th December 1997, Einhorn was released.
In January 1998, the Pennsylvanian legislature passed a new law that granted a previously tried and condemned man a new trial. Einhorn was rearrested and placed on bail to await a new extradition hearing. At the hearing, Simon countered using established American constitutional principles of the doctrine of separation of powers, essentially arguing that it went against all notions of good governance and the rule of law for a legislature to interfere with a final judgment of the judiciary. In other words, a law-making body can never direct a court to change its judgment, nor can it direct a retrial after the initial trial has been finalised.
A second point of contention that was brought up by Simon was that the new Pennsylvanian law, the so-called ‘Einhorn law’, appeared to have been enacted to firstly, retrospectively apply in Einhorn’s case, and secondly, appeared to have little general application outside of Einhorn’s case, both of which offended principles of the rule of law; a law cannot retrospectively apply to someone, nor should a law target a specific person or specific case.
The second extradition hearing ended with the French court declaring itself incompetent to hear arguments relating to the constitutionality of foreign laws. The decision therefore went to French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, since an extradition must be ordered by the executive after being approved by the courts. On 21st July 2000, Jospin eventually agreed to the extradition and was roundly criticised for having succumbed to political pressure from America, including American President Bill Clinton who had personally intervened. Meanwhile, Einhorn’s lawyers appealed to the Conseil d’Etat, the highest French court of law, and Annika Einhorn, his wife, canvassed the support of a wide spectrum of human rights organisations, including heavyweights like Helsinki Watch and S.O.S. Racisme.
The appeal to the Conseil d’Etat failed, as did the final appeals to both courts of the European Court of Human Rights on 18th July 2001. Einhorn publicly slit his throat in front of television cameras after the Conseil d’Etat decision, although he suffered little damage as he had only used a butter knife. On 21st July 2001, Einhorn returned to the United States via Philadelphia International Airport to stand trial for the murder of Holly Maddux.
The murder trial itself was relatively straightforward after the years of legal wrangling that had preceded it. The prosecution amassed a body of circumstantial evidence against Einhorn, including the corpse found in his apartment. They also led him in cross-examination to read large portions of his diaries, which gave insight to his violent and misogynist character. The defence tried the ploy of having the trial dismissed as the ‘Einhorn law’ was unconstitutional, arguing that the law violated the protection against ‘double jeopardy’, that is, being tried twice for the same crime, but the judge refused to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the trial. The defence also tried to introduce reasonable doubt that Einhorn had committed the murder, claiming that he had been out of the apartment for several months in 1978 and that it was possible for the body to have been sneaked in to frame their client. Einhorn, when asked to enter his defence, claimed that he had been framed by the CIA or KGB.
After only four weeks, on 17th October 2002, a racially mixed jury of six men and six women found Ira Einhorn guilty of the murder of Holly Maddux in 1977. Judge William Mazzola sentenced Einhorn to life in prison without parole. He is currently incarcerated at Houtzdale State Prison in Pennsylvania.