Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Word that Marc Martin has asked, on his client’s behalf, that the judge “arrest” the judgment against him, has about it the awful air of delusional desperation that marked the latter stages of his lordship’s defence. (Remember Eddie Greenspan’s ravings about Juval Aviv?) And elements of the punditocracy have already thrown up their noses. The Guardian’s media blogger Roy Greenslade, having carefully parsed reports of Martin’s submission, notes the hand of the master throughout:

“According to the court documents, Black’s lawyers are challenging last month’s decision by the jury by arguing that the trial evidence ‘preponderates heavily against the verdict.’ Preponderates? (Dictionary definition: To exceed something else in weight; or to be greater than something else, as in power, force, quantity, or importance; predominate). The choice of verb suggests it sprang from Black’s own vast lexicon.There are other Black touches too. For example, the filing calls into question the validity of the ‘unsupported, incredible testimony’ by the prosecution’s star witness, Black’s former chief lieutenant, David Radler. ‘The alleged telephone calls on which the government’s case rests were undocumented, and even Radler himself could not remember them in detail.’The filing is not exactly guaranteed to win over the judge, since it also calls into question her instruction to the jury to reject an ‘ostrich defence,’ her refusal to allow the defence to recall Radler to the stand to undergo more cross-examination and her decision to let jurors hear about outstanding Canadian civil cases involving Black, which are alleged to have prejudiced the jury.On the obstruction of justice verdict, the filing contends that ‘there is scant and questionable direct evidence supporting the government’s case and the evidence leaves open plausible theories of innocence.’Black, you may recall, faces sentencing on November 30. Unless, of course, Judge St. Eve finds merit in these new arguments. Meanwhile, let’s picture Black suffering the terrors of the Florida sunshine as he contemplates his fate.”

Oh dear, those Brits are mean-spirited. Still, one hopes that Black has something else up his sleeve at appeal, because this is pretty watery gruel. One senses the Blacks ever more isolated in their Floridian bunker, with only their paper-thin pretensions for solace. Further to the same point, we find Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed quoting Lady Black this a.m. Sneed plays it straight, but again lunacy lurks just beneath the surface:

“Convicted newspaper baron Conrad Black’s decision to marry a writer, Barbara Amiel, has resulted in a rare insight into what a wife feels when her husband is on trial and may be going to prison.To wit: in an article written by Amiel for Maclean’s magazine, she ponders the monarch butterfly’s extraordinary migration to Mexico.Quoth Amiel: ‘I had a Judy Garland moment…. I’m paralyzed over all the organizing to be done before I flutter down to Florida to join my beloved spouse where, courtesy of the U.S. government, he spends the time till late November. Goddamn it. Somewhere there’s a spot where troubles melt like lemon drops. If monarchs do it, why oh why can’t I?’”

In reflecting on all this, another moment in another film came to mind. This one is rather more on point, as it is the story of a newspaper mogul brought low by his own hubris. Over breakfast, Charles Foster Kane’s first wife, Emily, objects to one of her husband’s idiosyncratic opinions:

Emily: Really Charles, people will think—Charles: —what I tell them to think.

Sun-baked Conrad to judge: gimme a break [Guardian]Conrad Black asks judge to quash convictions [Guardian]Black wants new trial [CanWest ]The Black trial… [Chicago Sun-Times]