As a career appellate clerk and devoted student of the law, Peter Porco likely would have relished the substantive legal issues that his own murder has generated.

Porco, 52, the principal clerk to Presiding Justice Anthony V. Cardona of the Appellate Division, 3rd Department, was brutally murdered with an ax during the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2004, apparently as he slept in his bed. His wife, Joan, then 54, was resting by her husband’s side and was similarly attacked, yet miraculously survived. Their 22-year-old son, Christopher, is charged with murder and attempted murder. He is slated to go on trial this summer. Pretrial hearings began Tuesday morning.