TORONTO—A lawyer for Conrad Black says he is “elated” by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that shocked some observers and could give the deposed media baron a new trial.
The court agreed to review cases against Black and two former colleagues who were accused of siphoning more than $6 million (U.S.) from his media conglomerate, Hollinger International Inc.
“I’m obviously elated,“ Miguel Estrada, one of Black’s lawyers, said yesterday.
“I think it’s a good sign for Conrad.”
Estrada said he had not had a chance to discuss the ruling with his client, and Black did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
“I’m sure he’s happy,” said Edward Genson, another of Black’s lawyers. “It’s a little bit of vindication.”
The court’s decision to review the case does not necessarily mean Black will be released. The judges only can hand the case back to a lower court, which could, in turn, order a new trial.
And while the court will review Black’s fraud conviction, many observers doubt it also will review his obstruction of justice case—meaning he would remain in jail on those charges.
“This doesn’t mean that they are going to reverse the convictions, by a long shot,“ acknowledged Ron Safer, a Chicago lawyer representing Mark Kipnis, a former Hollinger official whose conviction also will be reviewed.
“But at least we are in the game now.”
Estrada predicted the high court would hear arguments on the case in either December or January, with a decision handed down by next June.
“He is obviously a very determined person,” said Eric Sussman, who led the prosecution against Black but now is in private practice.
“It helps that he’s playing with other people’s money.”
Sussman said it’s “possible” Black could have all the charges dismissed and be released from jail, but he believes it is “highly unlikely.”
Even if the court throws out the fraud conviction, which carries a five-year sentence, Black is serving a concurrent six-and-a-half year sentence for obstruction of justice.
His lawyers will argue that the severity of this sentence was impacted by the fraud conviction, and also should be tossed out.