Conrad Black’s Conviction

A reader wrote to ask whether we would be commenting on the jury’s verdict in the Conrad Black prosecution. I won’t be, because I don’t know anything about it. But Mark Steyn has been covering the trial from the beginning; he doesn’t seem to think much of the government’s case:

There will be recriminations a-plenty over what was just announced on the 12th floor in Chicago. Conrad Black was found NOT GUILTY of racketeering, NOT GUILTY of tax fraud, NOT GUILTY of the CanWest scheme, NOT GUILTY on Bora Bora, the Park Avenue apartment and Barbara’s birthday party, NOT GUILTY on the individual non-competes on US newspaper sales.
He has been found GUILTY in just two narrow areas – “obstruction of justice” re the security camera footage of him removing boxes from 10 Toronto Street, and three “mail fraud” counts relating to the APC non-compete agreement, in which (as the government argued) Black and Radler paid Black and Radler not to compete with Black and Radler. ***
The government alleged three schemes – the “US scheme”, the “CanWest scheme”, the “perks scheme” – and upgraded them to racketeering, and threw in tax fraud. They lost on racketeering and tax. They lost outright on two-thirds of the schemes. And on the remaining scheme – the “US scheme” – they lost on everything but the APC non-compete fee. Yet, absent successful appeals, four men could be spending the rest of their working lives in jail. The US Attorney’s office might usefully adopt as its motto the IRA’s message to Mrs Thatcher after the Brighton bombing, “You have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once.”

Given that the prosecution was brought by Patrick Fitzgerald, I’m predisposed to sympathize with the defendants.
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