Perhaps ten years ago I was listening to radio host Laura Ingraham interview the author of a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The man was intelligent, well spoken, had a broad base of knowledge, and was gracious with his host. Though never having been an admirer of FDR, the more I heard this man speak the more keen I became to read the biography. It turned out the book, over a thousand pages long, was just a side project for the author. The author's name, of course, was Conrad Black.
A Renaissance man of sorts, Mr. Black was not only a capable and accomplished author, but the owner and manager of a vast media empire that crossed the oceans and spanned the globe.
Then came the trial, a sham trial where an ambitious prosecutor took aim at a media executive, bullying his co-defendants and tweaking the law to find him in violation. Conrad Black was confident that justice would be the result of our legal system. Mark Steyn spoke of the sordid affair here:
"He was not a fugitive but an innocent man, and eventually he would be vindicated by the justice system of this great republic." But that’s not possible – because, with a system that relies on multiple charges and an ability to pressure everybody else in the case to switch sides, you can win (as Conrad did) nineteen-twentieths of the battles and still lose the war.Convicted under the so called Honest Services statutes, the conviction came into question when the USSC found the statutes too broad to be valid law. With those statutes overturned, one would think the man would be allowed to be free. Sadly, that was not the case.
For standing up for what was right, for truth, for equality before the law, when it would have been far easier to embrace the lie and buckle before the powers that be, Conrad Black became a great hero of mine. He stood up for what was best in this country, for its ideals, even though he knew he was confronting the reality of its failings. That was a remarkably noble and gutsy thing to do.
Over zealous prosecutors filled with personal ambition are a scourge to our times: Eliot Spitzer, Michael Nifong, Pat Fitzgerald... the list goes on, and judges with little notion of justice make it all the worse.
The great man has been returned to prison, but I stand up straight and take off my hat to one of the best men of our times... Conrad Black.
George Jonas comments on the case directly here:
"Last Friday, Judge Amy St. Eve slashed the 78-month sentence she had imposed on Conrad Black in 2007 to 42 months. She remarked that "this case is in a different state today, and you are a different person today." I don't think so. "and more obliquely here.