Longtime Anchorage attorney Edgar Boyko dies in Washington hospital

Posted: Friday, January 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Former Alaska Attorney General Edgar Paul Boyko -- a longtime Democrat who served under a Republican governor -- died on Tuesday in a Washington hospital, a family spokesman said. He was 83.

Flamboyant in his dress and enigmatic in his politics, Boyko gained notoriety for both his courtroom antics and his complex understanding of mineral-rich Alaska's status as a ''commonly owned'' state.

''When I went to enforce some of those things, he understood where I was coming from,'' said former Gov. Walter J. Hickel. ''As an attorney, he was a believer.''

Boyko served as attorney general from 1967-1968 under Hickel's Republican administration before returning to private practice in Anchorage.

As an attorney, he gained a reputation for defending unsympathetic characters, including a strip club owner accused of beating up a judge and a policeman accused of molesting a teen-ager.

He once won an acquittal for a killer who went out and killed again. When the acquitted client called to hire Boyko for his second murder case, Boyko told him, ''Sorry, only one miracle to a customer.''

''Boyko was immediately suspicious of anything powerful, whether it be big business, big labor or government,'' Gov. Tony Knowles said through a press spokesman.

Boyko has a well-earned reputation for flamboyance in the courtroom. He used a body-language expert and astrology -- American and Chinese -- to help choose juries. In later years, his preferred courthouse wardrobe featured tapestry vests and gold jewelry under a pinstripe suit.

Poor eyesight forced Boyko to hold reading material inches from his face and to be able to recognize people sometimes only by their voice, said family friend Wayne Anthony Ross.

The wily attorney found a use for that handicap.

''He milked it as much as he could,'' in the courtroom, Ross said.

Boyko was a lifelong Democrat who joined the Alaskan Independence Party in 1990 to help engineer Hickel's takeover of the party spot in the November ballot, allowing the former Republican governor to win a second term.

Boyko retained his AIP membership later in life but described his politics as ''eclectic libertarianism.''

''When I ran for governor, he was a great supporter,'' said Hickel. ''I really think he was a Democrat,''

A government lawyer from Washington, D.C., Boyko arrived in Alaska in 1952 as an attorney for the Bureau of Land Management.

He left that job the next year to enter private practice in Alaska and California during the 1950s and 1960s. He also practiced law in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Boyko was born in Vienna, Austria to Dr. Myron David and Florence Boyko. He came to the U.S. in 1939 after attending school in Scotland. He received a law degree from the University of Maryland.

He left Anchorage to settle in the Seattle area in 1999 after a series of strokes. He died on New Year's Day in a Des Moines, Wash., hospital, Ross said.

Boyko is survived by his wife, Georgie Lee; daughters Colene, Georgeana, Cheri Cathlene; and son David Richard; numerous grandchildren and a great grandchild, according to a family statement. His son Steven James Boyko died in 1983, according to a family statement.

Funeral arrangements are pending. A Knowles spokesman said state flags will be flown at half staff in his memory at a later time.

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