Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

In the movie The Perfect Storm, there’s the bit where the benighted ship, the Andrea Gail, having been tossed and turned this way and that, passes into the eye of the hurricane. As a result, there’s a sort of physical relief for George Clooney and the crew, even though they know they’ll soon be back in the shit, their fate more or less sealed. I suspect the players in U.S. v. Conrad Black et al. are feeling very much the same way. With insiders suggesting that we’ll still be at this in August—despite Judge Amy St. Eve’s assurances to jurors that they’ll all be home and dry for Canada Day, er, Independence Day—the three-day break between Jim Thompson and David Radler comes as a blessed, if not unmitigated, relief. As to this morning’s news, the Globe’s Paul Waldie reports that the defence, in what one assumes is their version of Doug Flutie’s last-second pass against Miami University, has petitioned St. Eve to limit Radler’s testimony:

“‘Based on a review of Radler’s grand jury testimony, much of Radler’s account about the ‘plan’ to insert [the men] into U.S. community newspaper non-compete agreements is based on speculation and surmise,’ the filing alleges. The lawyers want Judge Amy St. Eve to prevent Mr. Radler from making similar statements next week. In the filing, defence lawyers argue that those statements are Mr. Radler’s personal conclusions and do not offer any proof that the other men knew about the conspiracy.”

Like I say, kind of a Hail Mary. But per the New York state lottery slogan, “Hey, you never know.”

The Chicago Reader’s media columnist and blogger, Mike Miner, weighs in with the most balanced and intelligent summary of Thompson’s testimony to date and concludes with a fascinating suggestion:

“When this confusing, document-driven trial finally ends…jurors casting about for a way to approach the evidence might wish they could simply put their faith in whatever Big Jim said. After this week, that won’t be as easy. I think Black needs to take the stand himself and scapegoat his audit committee chairman. The living was large at Hollinger, and Black has to be able to say he trusted Thompson—former prosecutor, former governor—to keep Radler and the company within the law, and his watchdog let him down. It might fly.”

Once again, I refer you to the wisdom of the New York state lottery slogan.

Defence quick to challenge key witness [Globe and Mail]Big Jim testifies at Conrad Black trial [Chicago Reader]Ex-governor paid US$18K to skim papers [National Post]Former governor doesn’t waver [Chicago Tribune]