Black's lawyers file motion for a new trial
Former media magnate and convicted white collar criminal Conrad Black has asked his trial judge to grant him a new trial or an acquittal.
In a motion filed with a Chicago court late Monday, Black's lawyers argued that it "would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand."
They want Judge Amy St. Eve to grant him a new trial, "taking into account the credibility of the witnesses.
"The Court must consider the weight of the evidence, and must grant a new trial if that evidence preponderates heavily against the verdict, such that it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand," the court documents said.
Black's most high-profile nemesis on the stand during his nearly four-month trial was David Radler, his longtime business partner at Hollinger Inc. and Hollinger International.
Radler pleaded guilty in 2005 to one count of fraud. He agreed to a fine of US$250,000 and a 30-month sentence in exchange for testifying against Black. He will be sentenced on Dec. 10.
Black's lawyers vigorously attacked Radler's credibility during the trial, repeatedly calling him a liar during their cross-examination.
"The only evidence linking Mr. Black to the payments (other than his receipt of a cheque) is the unsupported, incredible testimony of the government's co-operating witness, F. David Radler," the filing said.
"The alleged telephone call on which the government's case rests were undocumented, and even Radler himself could not remember them in detail."
The documents also attacked the so-called ostrich instruction. St. Eve told the jury that a defendant could be convicted if they found he was consciously trying to avoid noticing evidence of illegal activity.
On July 13, a jury found Black guilty of four charges of the 13 he had been facing -- three counts of fraud and one of obstruction of justice.
His three co-defendants were also found guilty on various fraud-related charges relating to the sale of various newspapers owned by Hollinger International. The men skimmed off "non-compete fees" from the deals, money that the prosecution contended should have gone to Hollinger International shareholders.
Two of those defendants, former Hollinger executives Jack Boultbee and Peter Atkinson, filed motions of their own on Monday asking for new trials or an acquittal.
In a post-verdict interview with the Toronto Star, juror Monica Prince said she considered Radler's testimony to be a farce.
Fellow juror Tina Kadisak told The Globe and Mail that the jury came close to finding Black guilty on all counts, but a minority persuaded the majority there wasn't enough evidence to convict on nine charges.
Juror James Kirby told a CTV News producer the following about Radler in an e-mail: "DR's testimony, obviously, was important, as was the testimony from all witnesses. I evaluated his testimony fully aware of the circumstances noted during the trial under which it was provided, as well as on the pertinent section of the detailed Jury Instructions."
He said the "totality" of evidence led to guilty verdicts on the four charges.
CTV legal analyst Steven Skurka told Newsnet on Monday that he thinks this manoeuvre is mainly posturing on the part of the three men and that it won't succeed.
However, "(lawyer) Eddie Greenspan is nobody's puppet, and he wouldn't have brought this motion if he didn't think there was some merit to it," he said.
St. Eve is to sentence Black on Nov. 30. The prosecution wants a federal prison term in the 15 to 20-year range.
Black, 62, has been granted bail until then, but the British citizen cannot leave the United States. He owns a Florida mansion and is renting a place in Chicago. He told CP by e-mail that he is "enjoying my house in Palm Beach."
Black has always maintained his innocence and has proclaimed the four guilty verdicts will be overturned on appeal.
With files from The Canadian Press