U.S. Supreme Court to hear Black’s appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court surprised many by agreeing to hear an appeal from former media giant Conrad Black.

Black, who is currently serving a six and a half year jail sentence in a Florida prison for mail fraud and obstruction of justice, had requested the court hear an appeal and consider overturning last year’s lower court decision.

In addition, this Supreme Court decision allows Black to apply for bail.

The Toronto Star report explains:

The fraud charges stem from payments of $5.5 million (U.S.) the men [Black and former Hollinger executives former executives John Boultbee and Mark Kipnis] received from a Hollinger subsidiary.

The men argued that they did not commit fraud because they did no harm to the company.

7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the convictions,
but judges on the country’s highest court are divided on the central
issue behind the convictions, said Greenspan.

Using a federal
fraud statute usually aimed at prosecuting government officials, the
prosecution argued that Black and his co-defendants deprived
shareholders of honest services they were owed.

“In other words,”
Greenspan explained, “there is a rule that if you’re a federal
employee, that you must provide honest services. So that even if you
did not traditionally commit a deceit or falsehood or fraud, your
failure to provide honest services – which is obviously a very broad
description – could get you convicted.

“It’s difficult to apply to a jury what is required as an honest service.”

Black’s lawyer, Edward Greenspan, said if the Supreme Court does overturn the conviction, it is difficult to say whether it would acquit Black or ask for a new trial.