Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories
It’s Memorial Day in America, and trial coverage has slowed to a trickle. What there is points to the opening of Conrad Black’s defence (likely this week) and suggests that the trial’s momentum is substantially in his Lordship’s favour. The New York Post, whose credo is usually “hang ’em high,” featured a piece denigrating the quality of the government’s evidence. Janet Whitman, who’s been an honest broker throughout, concludes, “While no one can accurately read how a jury is leaning, there’s a palpable feeling in the courtroom that few are ready to convict Black.” Writing in the Toronto Star, David Olive, forever skeptical of Black and his chorus of yea-sayers, went after the government for poor preparation resulting in cocked-up cross-examinations, the legal equivalents of prosecutorial own goals:
“On the stand last week at Black’s trial, [Paul] Healy was told by Black co-lead counsel Edward Genson, ‘You are an advocate, sir, not a witness.’
That was a statement, not a question, and the appropriate response from the witness is silence. Instead, Healy had to ask, ‘An advocate for whom?’
Which gave Genson the opening he sought: ‘An advocate for Breeden, Rosenberg and all the people who have paid you throughout this investigation.’ Well, there goes Healy’s credibility.
Oy. Yet another example of the prosecution’s inexpert witness preparation that has marked this trial’s first seven weeks.”
Oy is right. The prosecution needs a good week on cross-examination and should pray that Black decides against holding his tongue.