Monday, May 18, 2009

Black gets last ditch chance

In a surprise decision, the US Supreme Court has said it will review Conrad Black's conviction on fraud charges last year. On the other hand, Black's name is quite well known and his celebrity may have helped him get through SCOTUS' usually very narrow gate, which is that a case for possible appeal must raise a "substantive federal legal question." Black is arguing that his prosecutor, Chicago federal district attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, stretched out the meaning of the word "fraud" to a conclusion not substantiated by law, therefore confusing the jury which convicted Black.

The facts remain that Hollinger, once one of the world's premier newspaper publishing companies, just became a piggy bank for its highest officers. Black still hasn't explained sufficiently why he "borrowed" some documents from his Toronto office over one weekend. Or his wife Barbara Amiel's extravagant lifestyle, which she crowed had no bounds.
It's going to make for an interesting oral argument. But his chances are slim, especially in the current political environment where anyone who is a board member of a publicly traded firm is considered suspect. If his convictions are overturned or remanded for retrial, he's going to be one very lucky guy ... um, lord.

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