Friday, July 20, 2007


Lord Conrad Black's dogsbody, David Frum, is back from his tour of Old Europe and ready to speak truth to power:

Prosecutors convicted my friend and former employer on four of 13 counts. They lost on their accusations of "racketeering" and on their claims of a scheme of a vast fraud involving tens of millions of dollars. They won on charges involving smaller transactions worth a total of some $3.5 million, plus one count of obstruction justice [sic]. The obstruction charge was based on videotape of Black removing boxes of papers from his Toronto office after he lost entry to those offices. Prosecutors had not yet served Black with notice to leave the papers - and nobody has ever suggested that anything in them related to this trial - but the grainy security camera footage sure looked bad.

These convictions represent bad news for Conrad Black, obviously, but something less than a resounding victory for the prosecution. Now comes sentencing and appeal.

And notice something: although the prosecution lost on 9 counts, they are asking that Conrad Black be sentenced as if they had won.

[Long-ass quote from The Star which doesn't remotely suggest that prosecutors are asking that Connie be sentenced for any count on which he wasn't convicted. The article points out that Black faces up to 35 years on the four counts he was convicted of, and the United States is only seeking 30.]

Same thing as was done to Scooter Libby: win on one thing - then demand that the judge act as if you had won on everything. Here's my question: If (as seems more than possible) Black defeats the remaining fraud counts on appeal, will a US judge really contemplate sending him to prison to punish him for removing from his office personal papers of no ultimate relevance to a criminal case?

I realize Frum is just a dumb Canuck, but even he should understand that fraud and obstruction of justice aren't "one thing." Likewise, Scooter Libby was convicted of three different things: two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice in a grand jury investigation and one count of making false statements to federal investigators.

Frum also seems to believe that the judge will be sentencing Connie after his appeal is concluded, and thus will be contemplating a sentence based solely on the obstruction verdict. Doesn't work that way, Davey. (Frum's reasoning also suggests that he believes Black's conviction for obstruction will stand.)

Also amusing is Frum's apparent belief that Black's not such a bad guy because he only defrauded Hollinger shareholders of $3.5 million instead of "tens of millions" of dollars. By Frum's reasoning, a murderer should go free if the state fails to prove he's a serial killer.

We are entering in a new era, one in which conservatives consistently cry that the American justice system is biased against wealthy, well-connected white men who can actually afford a level playing field against the power of the state. In reality, the playing field isn't even level, given Bush Justice's illegal efforts to give the rich and Republican the home court advatage.

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