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All About Eve

Lawyers like to argue and judges like to adjudicate, and in Room 1241 this afternoon, there was a whole lot more of one than the other. It was Amy St. Eve’s courtroom and those who sought her ear were reduced to something of a sideshow. First we had Eddie Greenspan and Dave Roebuck trying to explain how it is that a secret agreement between the Blacks and Hollinger Inc. restricts the disclosure of assets that might be available to post for bail and/or forfeit. This went over more or less like a lead balloon. Roebuck, who swore up and down at the airport this morning that he wouldn’t say a word in court, ended up having to explain the ins and outs of the deal, to which you could almost hear Her Honour thrumming her fingers. Finally, after much back and forth, St. Eve piped up with one of those questions that allows the world to turn for at least one more day: “Is there anything that would preclude Mr. Black from going back to the parties to free up assets so that they might be posted for bond?” To which the two Canadians shrugged their shoulders and agreed to look into it.

Then there was Eddie who, in the face of suggestions that Black might hole up in Canada to avoid sentencing, argued mightily for the probity and all-around decency of his client. Again, much heaving and sighing. Affidavits were produced from the honourable somebody or other confirming that if Black so much as thought of flying the coop, he’d be in front of a Canadian judge and on his way back to Chicago in the blink of an eye. It would, Eddie assured the judge, only take a phone call from Mr. Sussman. This, in turn, opened the door for Eric Sussman’s “line of the day”: “The notion that I could make a phone call to anybody in Canada and get anything other than a pizza is ridiculous.” Emboldened by his funny, Sussman went on to suggest that Black was getting special treatment as it was. “Say Mr. Black was a Mexican?” Sussman continued, implying that he would not be allowed to return to Mexico. Ah, the bridge too far. St. Eve immediately shut him down, and it was back to Eddie to try to assuage her fears. “My concern isn’t that he would run and hide,” said St. Eve. “My concern, rather, is that he would try to fight.” Again, more or less everybody saw the sense in that, and again, without a solid answer to put before her, Eddie was forced to respond with, in essence, “We’ll get back to you on that.”

In the end, St. Eve denied the government’s request to take Black into custody, and instead kept his passport, limited his travel to Northern Illinois and Southern Florida, and told everybody to come back on August 1st, this time with better answers to the question of assets. I sensed a willingness to let him travel back to Canada thereafter, so long as he leaves his passport with an American border guard. “I need more assurance,” she concluded with a tiny shrug of the shoulders. It was the most sense anybody made all day.

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