Courtstalker Part IV
The full content of Conrad Black’s “Summer Musings” memo from September 2002 was shown to the jury Wednesday, much to the annoyance of the deflated press Lord’s lawyers. They promptly demanded a mistrial on grounds of “class prejudice.” Judge Amy St. Eve barely missed a beat slapping them down and then ordering Ed Genson not to call for a mistrial in front of the jury again.
Little wonder the lawyers were annoyed. Although parts of it have appeared in the press before, the complete document shows Black in the grip of some kind of Napoleonic dementia. It was the kind of thing he could only inflict on boot-licking subordinates.
“We have pretty well won the great battle over the non-competition agreements,” Black opined, sounding like Custer before Little Big Horn.
Surveying his various companies, he wrote “(they) have always been run in the Argus tradition of proprietary businesses where the controlling shareholders take reasonable steps to ensure their comfortable enjoyment of the position they… have created for themselves.”
He talks about “discountenanced” shareholders trying to force “us into a hair shirt, the corporate equivalent of sackcloth and ashes.” “We do not deserve anything so demeaning,” he says.
Black rockets into the wild blue yonder with the last paragraph. “It has been an implacable struggle, but it is an impressive return on the $18,000 investment David and Peter and I made in the Sherbrooke Record in 1969. The Goose keeps laying a golden egg every year and the best, by far, is yet to come.”
Upstairs in the overflow courtroom, where the proceedings are watched on closed-circuit TV without the usual minder, a reporter captured the mood perfectly.
“What a horse’s ass!” he bellowed. “How can anybody write crap like that?”
The room erupted in raucous laughter.