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July 7, 2010

"Black 'entitled’ to immediate bail, court filing says"

The title of this post is the headline of this article from a Canadian paper which provides the latest legal development following Conrad Black's victory in the Supreme Court in the apeeal of his fraud convictions.  Here are the details:

Conrad Black says he is “entitled” to be released on bail from a Florida prison pending his appeal because most of his fraud convictions have been thrown into question by the U.S. Supreme Court and, thus, his time behind bars could outdistance his ultimate sentence.

In a 19-page filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Lord Black argued yesterday that the circumstances surrounding his bail request have changed dramatically since the first time he applied — and was denied — in 2007, a few months after a Chicago jury convicted him.

“At nearly 66 years of age, he has a particularly strong interest in bringing finality to these proceedings,” his lawyer, Miguel Estrada, argues in the legal brief. The Washington-based lawyer added that any “additional time he spends in prison between now and a favourable ruling can never be returned to him.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously set aside Lord Black’s three honest services fraud convictions because the controversial statute is limited to bribe or kickback schemes, which were not at issue in his criminal case....

“The Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s fraud theory goes to the heart of the most hotly contested issues at Mr. Black’s trial – whether there was a scheme to defraud and whether Mr. Black ‘corruptly’ intended to obstruct the investigation of this non-crime..."

Lord Black was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice for removing 13 boxes from Hollinger Inc.’s Toronto head office, six days before he was due to be evicted by the company’s new management....

Even if the obstruction conviction remains, his lawyer argued, the amount of time Lord Black will likely be sentenced to serve under federal sentencing guidelines is shorter than the time he has already spent at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, which he entered in March, 2008.

“With good-time credit, Mr. Black has already served 32 months of his 78-month sentence. If the obstruction count alone remains in place ... the range would drop to 15-21 months,” Mr. Estrada said in the bail application.

July 7, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I have to agree with the defendant and his counsel, the erudite Miguel Estrada. Black's case was overloaded with deceit and self-dealing, but there were no bribes or kickbacks that I saw. So Mr. Black has an excellent chance for an outright reversal.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 7, 2010 5:03:09 PM

Can't help but wonder how the honest-services statute is any more "vague, amorphous and open-ended," as Estrada characterized it, than the other "favorite tool of prosecutors," RICO?

Talk about deceit and self-dealing, watching the feds wield these modern-day Waltham Black laws is truly something to behold.

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