Steyn for the Defence
So the trial is underway in earnest and to no sentient creature’s surprise prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer told the jury: “Bank robbers wear masks and use guns. These four men used lawyers and accountants and wore ties and a suit. We all know what street crime looks like. This is what crime looks like in the corporate world.” Equally predictable was Edward Genson’s defence: “This isn’t Enron, this isn’t WorldCom—U.S. companies that collapsed after corporate accounting scandals.” Hollinger was a “healthy company worth millions. Conrad Black was not stealing from the company, the company was stolen from him. He is innocent, and when the evidence comes in, you’ll see he’s innocent.”
Opening statements like these have been rehearsed in the press for months. Until the first witness takes the stand, in this case former Hollinger International chairman Gordon Paris—the man who unleashed Richard Breeden on Black—the real drama will not unfurl.
So, we’re left to contemplate the sheer weirdness of Maclean’s man in Chicago, Mark Steyn. Goodness knows he’s admitted his prejudices, making no bones about his dream of seeing Conrad walk free. Still, couldn’t he at least show some measure of objectivity? Widely reported to have had a long conversation with his pal Conrad in the courtroom, in full view of his assembled colleagues, Steyn later reported that the alleged altercation involving Lady Black “sounded a little odd to my ears. It supposedly occurred in the elevator, and just before she got in I’d had a brief and pleasant exchange with her regarding various procedural matters.” Later, finally convinced by the world’s press that the event had actually occurred, he reassured his readers that “Barbara Amiel had good cause to be angry just before she stepped into the elevator: She’d just learned that a juror had been dismissed because he’d supposedly called up the court after being selected and said that anyone who makes in a year what it’s taken him a lifetime to earn must be a crook.” Steyn concluded that “It’s not about Barbara’s temper, but about a staggering incompetence that reflects poorly on the court’s credibility. It needs to do better today.”
Well, thank you Clarence Darrow.