Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Conrad Black -- Yankee Imperialism's Latest Victim

I haven't followed the Black trial as well as I ought. As a matter of civil law, I sympathize with the minority shareholders' position that the personal non-compete covenants were a breach of fiduciary duty. Black was, in substance, selling a corporate asset for his and his associates' personal benefit. However, I can't see how this rises to criminal wrongdoing, especially since the questionable transactions were run by the audit committee. It is possible that his lordship was prosecuted and convicted for being a conceited jerk -- an alarming concept to the Pithlord, who is not without pomposity and self-regard, and cannot be confident that a Chicago jury would like him any more than the Baron of Crossharbour.

Still, I have considerable respect for juries, and unlike the Pithlord, they had to give up their lives and listen to all the evidence. Lord Black was not without competent counsel, and so I might be willing to let the matter rest -- pending appeal, of course -- with the presumption of regularity.

However, the "obstruction of justice" count troubles me on a level that the jury's better grasp of the facts does not soothe. In a suspicion-inducing moment captured on videotape, Lord Black personally removed boxes from Hollinger Inc.'s Toronto headquarters. The Pithlord takes no position on whether this was contrary to the order of Mr. Justice Campbell that no property be removed from the building without the permission of the court-appointed inspector, but it is a reasonable position to take.

The trouble is that -- for various obscure historical reasons -- Canada is a sovereign country. I realize that it is fashionable to emphasize interconnectedness and globalization and so forth, but the violation or non-violation in Toronto of the order of a Canadian judge is not the business of a Chicago jury. Laura Secord did not bravely sell chocolate, nor did Sir John A. down six bottles of whiskey in a single setting for this! While Pith & Substance views talk of military retaliation as premature, someone ought to have a strong word with our southern cousins on this subject.

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