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July 16, 2007

Federal sentencing's Black magic

This article in the Toronto Star provides an effective account of some federal guideline issues that will arise in the sentencing of Conrad Black following the CEO's conviction last week of fraud and obstruction (basics here).  This excerpt highlights some unique personal particulars in the case:

Former federal prosecutors who have followed Black's case say they expect the government team to seek the stiffest penalty possible.  In the months leading up to the four-month trial, then during the proceedings, Black has often been a lawyer's nightmare.  He scorned prosecutors for pursuing a case he called a "toilet seat" around their necks.  Black called the four Jewish lawyers who formed the government's trial team "Nazis" and called the indictments against him "a smear campaign."

[Black's lawyer Edward] Genson said he didn't begrudge Black the chance to claim he was wrongfully convicted.  "I'd rather he didn't say anything but the guy has a right to defend himself," Genson said.

Last week, Black was photographed giving the finger at news media covering the trial.  "He's acting like a mob boss on trial rather than a CEO of a major corporation," former federal prosecutor Kirby Behre remarked shortly before the jury returned.  And at one point during the trial, St. Eve, who has discretion to decide Black's ultimate fate, called his lawyers into her chambers and said, "If you can't control him ... I'd be happy to do it."

Over at White Collar Crime Prof Blog, Peter Henning has this post sorting through a variety of guideline issues and coming up with a sentencing estimate that appears to be below what prosecutors seem likely to seek.

July 16, 2007 at 07:35 AM | Permalink

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