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June 10, 2009

Should and will Conrad Black get bail from the Supreme Court?

As detailed in posts here and here at SCOTUSblog, all the briefs are now before the Supreme Court in Conrad Black's request for bail from the Supreme Court.  Here are the basics from Lyle Denniston's most recent dispatch:

Lawyers for a Canadian newspaper magnate convicted in the U.S. in a high-profile executive compensation case made their final plea Tuesday night for his release on bail.  In a reply brief (found here) to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, attorneys for Conrad M. Black completed their arguments for his freedom so he could return to Canada.

The exchanges between Black’s counsel and the Justice Department over the bail issue have come to center primarily on the fate of his conviction on charges of obstruction of justice.  Black was also convicted on fraud counts, but the Supreme Court last month agreed to rule on the validity of that part of his conviction.

Black contends that, if the fraud counts are overturned by the Supreme Court when it rules on its case in the Term starting next October, his obstruction conviction will be undermined. The Justice Department disputed that.

In their closing filing, Black’s lawyers asked Justice Stevens to grant bail while the Supreme Court case is pending, and then refer the release issue to a federal judge to impose a bond.   Justice Stevens has the authority to act on his own, or to refer the matter to the full Court.

Black is currently in prison in Florida, having served so far 18 months of his 78-month sentence.  He is the only one reamining in prison among the former colleagues in his media empire who were convicted. Others were not given prison terms, or have been released on bail pending the Supreme Court ruling.

I think the Supreme Court should grant bail, but I fear it won't.  Anyone else have thoughts about whether the Justices should or will grant Black's request for release?

June 10, 2009 at 12:08 PM | Permalink


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They should, but they won't. As I recall, all of the precedents Black cited were before any of the current nine justices were on the Court. It is a type of relief that the Court only very rarely grants.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jun 10, 2009 12:42:38 PM

At the Supreme Court, such bond Motions are typicaaly handled solely by the Circuit Justice for the Circuit where the defendant was convicted. Conrad Black lucked out by getting Justice Stevens, the oldest and most liberal Justice on the entire U. S. Supreme Court. I predict Mr. Black will be released on bond. He is now incarcerated on my old Unit, B-1, at the Low Security Correctional Institution in Coleman, Florida. His Palm Beach estate is only about 50 miles from the prison.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jun 10, 2009 10:36:28 PM

Well, B-1 is still a disgrace, and not the "top" Unit, where a mogul should be, but better than the SHU. Here, the Supreme Justice is called upon, because the US system is basically unjust, and retrogate, because in any "other" industrialized nation, nobody goes to Prison until the last straw has been cracked. Prime-minister Berlusconi took 17 years already, and has not served a day in Jail (except when he was 17), and Giulio Andreotti had a murder conviction (then overturned), and never went in either. Are Italian Criminals loose ? No, its safer here than Palm Beach, and prisoners have internet and telephones in their cells, drink wine with lunch or diner, and go out on weekends. America is OVER and OUT, in all branches, in all aspects of reasonability, and in morals and ethics, Bernie has shown Wallstreet its real face, and the Southern District AUSA has kept eyes shut, just like for B. Kerik et al. Its all selective prosecution, and a profit driven incarceration business unit. Sorry for Y'all.

Posted by: DrKnow | Jun 11, 2009 4:20:32 AM

As a Canadian, let me say that we don't want him loose to ravage us any more. There is, I am sure, a collective national desire to see that old phony stay in jail until the last possible moment of his sentence expiration.

Posted by: Jak King | Jun 11, 2009 12:32:59 PM

He does not merit bail pending appeal because he forfeited his right to claim spillover prejudice affecting the obstruction count by not arguing that in the court of appeals.

Posted by: Da Man | Jun 11, 2009 2:15:43 PM

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