Gionis, 47, is currently a second-year student there and was elected
to the post in March.
But nine years ago, the then-Irvine orthopedic surgeon was in a
different place -- he was convicted and sentenced to serve five years in
prison for hiring two thugs to attack his estranged wife, Aissa Wayne,
daughter of the late actor and local legend John Wayne.
Aissa Wayne and her boyfriend, Roger Luby, were assaulted in Luby's
Newport Beach home in October 1988. According to reports, Wayne was
thrown face down on a garage floor while attackers -- said to be hired by
Gionis -- pistol-whipped Luby and severed his Achilles tendon.
Gionis' trial was long and grueling, probably painful for all
concerned. It was definitely high-profile. Gionis hired top defense
attorneys such as F. Lee Bailey, John Barnett and even Bruce Cutler, a
flamboyant attorney who represented New York mob boss John Gotti.
In 1990, Gionis' first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury
deadlocked 9-3. Two years later, his second trial ended in a conviction
and Gionis was sentenced to five years in prison. But he remained free on
a $2-million bail.
Then, again in 1994, a 4th District Court of Appeal threw out the
conviction citing improper testimony by an attorney and misconduct by the
prosecutor. But the following year, the California Supreme Court
reinstated the conviction, a decision that led to his arrest in May 1995.
The case might have been closed in the courts, but not in the life of
the once-convicted Gionis.
When contacted by phone at his Chicago home, Gionis expressed his
displeasure with past newspaper coverage, denied comment and hung up.
John Marshall Law School officials said the decision to oust Gionis as
incoming editor-in-chief was made entirely by the board of the Law
Review, which consists of students.
"They may have discussed it with faculty members," said John Corkery,
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. "But we always try to let the board
make its own decisions."
The position of editor-in-chief at the Law Review is a "very
prestigious" one, he said.
Gionis continues to be a student and a member of the Law Review and is
free to run for other editorial positions as they open up, Corkery said.
It takes a lot even to be a member of the Law Review, said Rory Smith,
associate dean for institutional advancement.
"From our perspective," he said, "our strongest students become
members of the Law Review."