A Chicago judge’s granting of bail to erstwhile-Canadian white-collar-criminal Conrad Black today demonstrates that “justice” is just another commodity which any well-heeled and/or well-connected miscreant can purchase.
Black, a onetime global media baron, was convicted in 2007 on three counts of fraud and a single count of obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to six-and-a-half-years at a minimum-security resort and has served about a third of his time.
Most recently, the United States Supreme Court tossed out his convictions on the fraud charges on the basis of some arcane legal loophole that exempted him from the law.
The latest in Conrad Black’s litany of high-priced lawyers to go over the man’s conviction with a fine-tooth comb is now attempting to argue that the Supreme Court’s ruling should consequently result in the obstruction conviction also being tossed and the failed press baron being set permanently scot-free.
If this is starting to read like a heroic tale of a wrongly-convicted man persisting in his valiant pursuit of justice and vindication, it’s not.
Rather it is a tale of judicial corruption and political and economic favouritism.
You see, Conrad Black is not your Average Joe whose life of unrewarded toil was stolen from him by an unjust world.
Black was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father, George Montegu Black, was a Canadian tycoon who controlled, among others: Massey-Ferguson (the former tractor manufacturer), Dominion Food Stores and Standard Broadcasting.
Yet it was long before Conrad inherited daddy’s corporations that the younger Black started building his own media empire.
Black started with small newspapers in Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Yes, long before his daddy passed on his loot to young Conrad, the bolder black was shaping his own empire. As the son of a director of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, young Conrad was able to negotiate sweetheart loans that enabled him to start buying up struggling newspapers. It was only after daddy died and Conrad could peddle the other corporations that he amassed the kind of money needed to have a global newspaper empire.
It’s not known whether Conrad Black ever actually achieved the status of being a billionaire. He claims he personally lost $250 million when his publishing empire collapsed.
But after spending millions on a string of lawyers until eventually one discovered a loophole, Black now claims his only remaining assets are his $40-million home in Palm Beach, Florida, his $40-million home in Toronto and his wife, Barbara Amiel’s 26-karat ring.
If it were an Average Joe convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice, his appeal would never have gotten anywhere near the United States Supreme Court.
But this is the same corrupt, right-wing-dominated U.S. Supreme Court that stole the 2000 U.S. presidential elelction from Democratic candidate Al Gore and gave it to Republican George W. Bush.
This is a court that is influenced by money and by politics.
Not only did Conrad Black have the money to hire the most expensive lawyers, he also had paid his political dues during the years that he owned the Chicago Sun-Times and a string of smaller U.S. newspapers, loyalling supporting right-wing Republicans at every level.