Lord Black Sweats Over Verdict as Jury Dawdles

04 July 2007

CHICAGO: Judge Amy St Eve of the US District Court for Northern Illinois is clearly a kindly person - at least in her concern for the jury in the trial of Lord Conrad Black and his three co-defendants. Her Honor, it seems, is anxious that the cogitations of the twelve good men (and women) be as unhurried and tranquil as possible.

The deliberating dozen, now closeted for a second week, include a postal worker, an unemployed man, a student and a retiree. St Eve has allowed them to set their own hours.

Despatched to the jury room at lunchtime last Wednesday, they went home at 3pm, worked a full day on Thursday and quit at 1pm on Friday. Today, July 4, they will recover from their labors whilst enjoying America's Independence Day holiday.

Most live in a world far removed from that inhabited by Black and his wife Barbara Amiel during their high society heyday when Black's Hollinger International owned the British Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, in addition to the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.

Now, in the cold light of July 2007, His Lordship's fingernails are likely down to the quick as he awaits news of his fate, which at age 62 could, if convicted, mean languishing in jail for the remainder of his days.

Moreover, a 'guilty' verdict could mean immediate imprisonment since, as a foreign (British) national, he is likely to be considered a "flight risk"

Black, a former Canadian citizen who renounced his nationality to become a British peer, has the right to seek a transfer to a UK prison in the event of conviction.

However, it is by no means certain that the UK Ministry of Justice would agree to such a request.

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff