I’m With “Stupid”
In case there was any doubt that we are a nation of dull worthies, the opening day of criminal proceedings against our most controversial quasi-citizen was blown off the front page (above the fold) in every major paper in the city by, drum roll please, the census. The fact that there are now 31,612,897 of us apparently outweighs the peril of one Lord Black. And further to that same point…
Judge Amy St. Eve, who has to date been portrayed as a fearsome combination of law-and-order harridan and super-efficient super-mom, was reported to be weighing in on the side of fairness for his Lordship yesterday, simultaneously admonishing and challenging prospective jurors: “I can tell you there’s nothing wrong with making a lot of money… Making a lot of money is not an element of any crime in itself—can you be impartial?” The key words here are, of course, “a lot,” since it has always been Black’s contention that his compensation was “a best-efforts attempt to accommodate to industry practice.” In other words, not “a lot” under the circumstances. Still, St. Eve’s words were likely a sweet melody to Black’s ears.
Not so much the words of some of the prospective jurors. In response to St. Eve’s queries, one man suggested that it was his understanding that Black “had something to do with the royal family.” Another said, “Whenever I see his picture he seems to be dressed up in a tuxedo.”
And more discordant still was an exchange between St. Eve and Eddie Greenspan. Greenspan, in comments reported in The New York Times, made sport of a standard waiver afforded foreign lawyers trying cases before a U.S. court (the waiver acknowledges that the client understands his lawyer isn’t entirely conversant in American law). “I love that I’ve been officially certified as stupid by the Illinois judge,” he said. According to the Guardian, St. Eve took exception, telling Greenspan yesterday, “You have reportedly made a statement that I’ve certified you as stupid. I don’t know if you made that statement, but it is patently wrong. If you were stupid, you wouldn’t be here. To the extent that you were under that impression, you were patently wrong.” Greenspan immediately backtracked, telling the judge he meant no disrespect. “I happen to have a sense of humour,” he said. “I in no way intended to insult the court. I apologize if you thought that I meant it, or if you felt upset by it. I meant it purely with a sense of humour.” St. Eve moved on, but the obvious antipathy between the two must have sent chills down Black’s spine. Oddly, the major Canadian papers neglected to report this exchange.
Speaking of chills, if your taste runs to the abjectly bizarre, how about the following from talking heads Marci Ien and Paula Todd on CTV’s morning show, Canada AM: Ien suggested that the Black trial, with its potential for celebrity witnesses and “the media circus,” reminded her of O.J. Simpson. To which Todd responded shoe-fittingly enough, “Well, I don’t feel like a circus animal, but…”
Image credit: John Gress/Reuters (New York Times)