Saturday, May 26, 2007

Media Roundup: Near Standstill

There are hardly any media stories, from overnight and today, to pass along - only two:

1. Susan Berger, as webbed by CBC News, recounts the week's events at the trial.

2. The Donald Trump connection got a one paragraph mention, as the first item, in the Observer's "The Week."


In yesterday's intro to the media reports on the last bit of testimony for the week, Douglas Bell writes this about Lance Bloomfield's testimony: "After the continuing parade of reptiles equivocating their tortuous way around the truth, 'this ain’t right' sounds like the Gettysburg Address." He also is careful enough to note that Mr. Bloomfield merely packed the boxes into Mr. Black's secretary's car and then put them back in 10 Toronto. A later entry by him in the Toronto Life Conrad Black trial blog focuses in on Judge St. Eve's recent rebuke of Mr. Black and ends with a punch line that reveals why Mr. Black's out-of-trial comments may be very relevant to his fate in the courtroom. A related entry by Patrick Gossage ventures that Conrad Black is losing the spin war in the courtroom itself.

Steve Skurka's latest entry in "The Crime Sheet" contains an anecdote, from his earlier days as a trial lawyer, which shows quite flatly why a trial attorney should never take any thing prima facie for granted.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Squeeze Play" interview with Paul Waldie

Late this afternoon, there was a recap interview with Paul Waldie, on BNN's "Squeeze Play." (It's now broadbanded, and should be linked to all weekend. The link is on BNN's home page.) The interview began 40 minutes into the program, and lasted for ten minutes. It was prefaced by an excerpt from the recent CTV interview of Conrad Black with Seamus O’Reagan, about injustice through plea bargains exerted through government pressure, including property seizures.

Mr. Waldie estimated that the defense might only present their case for a couple of weeks once the prosecution rests, which they are still expected to do next Wednesday. Next week, the 13 boxes will be fully dealt with by the prosecution, before they rest. Those boxes are central to the obstruction-of-justice charge; only Conrad Black faces it. He removed them while there was an expected SEC impoundment on them and a then-present Canadian court order forbidding any removal of evidence from 10 Toronto. His defense is: the contents were personal property. He was obliged to remove them because of an eviction notice he faced.

There has been no "smoking gun" in the prosecution's case, but smoking guns are not typical in these cases. Each day, new pieces of the puzzle are introduced; the prosecution and defense are obliged to pull them together during closing arguments.

These charges have taken a real toll on Mr. Black, and on the lawyers. He’s still confident, though. The jurors are bored on “some days”. A defense lawyer that Mr. Waldie talked to said that about half of the jurors have decided one way, and about half the other way, with the leftovers undecided, as is typical in cases of this sort.

David Radler was effective in the first week of his testimony, and there was some sympathy for him because of the aggressive cross-examination he initially faced. Then, in week two of his testimony, he started to “weasel” on the stand, which drained the sympathy factor and may have impugned his credibility.

As far as the continual question of whether or not Conrad Black will take the stand in his own defense, Mr. Waldie opined that it may help him, but the jurors have heard him at the annual meetings.

Kevin O’Leary asked if the tape from those meetings was put in there as “bait” to get Mr. Black on the stand. Mr. Waldie answered that it was plausible. There’s been lots of strategizing amongst the trial lawyers.

There are lots of big names on the list of potential defense witnesses, but little indication that any of them will actually testify. When asked by Mr. O'Leary about the possibility that Mr. Radler may go to jail while Conrad Black walks, Mr. Waldie replied that the BellSouth case saw exactly that outcome. A guilty pleader went to jail while a not-guilty-pleader walked. (No more comparison needed, therefore, to Edward Doheny and Sen. Albert Fall.)

Noise to signal ratio

The East Vacouver Republic has a Conrad Black-related two-fer today. The first story relates that Mr. Black and Izzy Asper both believed in media conspiracies against certain individuals, because they saw them from their CEO's chairs. The second one profiles recently-murdered philanthropist Glen Davis as very much the son of his father, former Argus chairman and Black ally Nelson Davis. The elder Davis was close to being Canada's richest man, largely through building up mining fortunes. The article concedes that the younger Mr. Davis was an environmentalist, 'tis true, but still one that was primarily interested in "conserving" the same stretch of Ontario land where mining fortunes have been made.

The Republic's masthead, found at the bottom of its home page, says that it aims to cover current events without bias or doggishness. It is an alternative newspaper, and shows hints of the radical worldview that's par for the woods there. The above two articles show something about where the radical worldview comes from.

To put it bluntly, many radical notions come from (at times distorted) views from the upper crust itself. Add a few Telephone-Game-style iterations and what was offhand talk [or bragging] in the plush set becomes a plank of the radical worldview.

A lot of the radical worldview seems crazy because the building of the radical worldview inappropriately decontextualizes worldly observations from the part of the world they apply to. Yes, it's true that media organizations launch campaigns, and even hatchet jobs, against certain individuals, and these are often organized. It's also true, though, that these campaigns are limited to newsworthy public figures. The typical 'victim' of any said 'conspiracy' is really too below the radar to be directly visited by one. The most common explanation, for those who do not fit the diagnostic category of paranoia, is the victim in question either is a victim of collateral reputation-damage or is being used as a whipping boy/girl by the locals in his/her locale.

As far as any secret desire on the part of Glen Davis to focus upon conserving Ontario land that his father used to wrest a lot of wealth from, the simplest explanation for he doing so was to honour his father - not to mention to stay close to the memory of him. The more reclusive a family is, the more close-knit its members are. The upper crust have enough social skills to cover up this tight-knittedness, which makes it less obvious in families from the posh part of town.

Media Roundup: A Difficult Trip

The media reports, webbed overnight and today, covering the Conrad Black trial have a mixed focus. Some centre on the testimony of Paul Healy about the Manhattan apartment, some veer in on The Donald, others spotlight the 13 boxes and the associated testimony of the security guard who moved them out and then moved them back, and one features a law proposed by a Canadian party that is no friend of Conrad Black:

1. From Business Week, an Associated Press report that focuses on the testimony of security guard Lancelot Bloomfield, the same fellow who transferred the boxes out of 10 Toronto Street and later moved them back because of procedures not followed. The International Herald Tribune has webbed a slightly abridged version of this report.

2. A story originally webbed by, and later webbed at the news subdomain of the National Union of Public and General Employees Website, has also made the Toronto Star's Website: "Chicago fraud trial a wakeup for Canada, MP says: NDP finance critic calls for corporate-crime law." The measure, to be proposed for drafting as a joint party bill, would create a federal securities regulatory agency (a constitutionally dicey issue in Canada for a long time,) create procedures for independent auditing of public-company books, tighten up existing ones for executive disclosure, increase the mandate for Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation of corporate fraud, extend protection to corporate whistleblowers, and - some of you may have already guessed it - outlaw non-compete payments to individuals. The proposed joint bill would be modeled on already-existing legislation in the United States and Australia, although the last item mentioned just above seems to be a New Democratic Party original.

3. The Los Angeles Times has webbed a Reuters report that focuses upon Mr. Healy's testimony relating to the sale to Mr. Black of the Manhattan apartment.

4. Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune has writen an article that also focuses in on the testimony of Mr. Bloomfield. It notes that the boxes were removed in violation of a Canadian court order.

5. A brief Canadian Press report, webbed by the Edmonton Journal, notes that the trial itself does not resume until Tuesday, and that the prosecution is expected to rest next Wednesday.

6. Another CP report has been webbed by the Edmonton Sun. It's entitled "Trump has 'no idea' if he'll be witness for defence." A longer version of the same report, which relates Mr. Trump's quote to Mr. Healy's testimony, has been webbed by the Calgary Sun.

7. The Star has also webbed a report by Sandro Contenta, covering the testimony of Mr. Bloomfield, who said while on the stand that "he packed the boxes into Joan Maida's Honda but then had second thoughts."

"'I got ahold of myself and said, "This ain't right,"' Bloomfield told the court. 'I just brought them back in.'" Later, it also says that he testified that he had bumped into court-appointed inspector Monique Delorme "by chance."

8. Janet Whitman's report for the New York Post also discusses Mr. Healy's testimony. It begins with: "Conrad Black's pricey Park Avenue apartment swap back in 2000 might not be the shareholder scam prosecutors are alleging, a key witness at the dethroned press baron's fraud trial admitted yesterday." Near its end, it mentions that Patrick Tuite has subpoenaed Mr. Healy's Rolodex, and it notes the possibility that Mr. Healy may be called back on the stand as a defense witness.

9. A report by Theresa Tedesco and Mary Vallis, webbed by the Ottawa Citizen, discusses a ruling by Judge St. Eve disallowing the entry of documents that invoice certain purchases made by the Blacks - as well as "the paper trail of wire transfers that reveal how the money was transferred from Hollinger's Chicago head office to personal bank accounts in Toronto and London." Grounds given by the judge: Canadian documents have to be pre-certified as admissible before beeing admitted into a criminal trial, which the prosecution did not do for those documents. The report also notes: "According to American law, documents obtained in foreign jurisdictions are [prima facie] admissible only in civil proceedings and require further legal approval to be admissible for criminal purposes."

10. Mary Wisniewski's report in the Chicago Sun-Times reports on the jury getting a laugh out of hearing about the heated towel racks installed in the Manhattan apartment. Her report explains that "[t]he towel racks... came up as a way to rebut a defense claim that Black spent so much on renovations to the apartment that it justified his paying just $3 million for it in 2000." The report also contains a capsule description of the apartment itself.

11. Michael Sneed's latest column in the Sun-Times contains an excerpt from Barbara Black's latest Maclean's column.

12. Another version of that report by Ms. Tedesco and Ms. Vallis, webbed by the Vancouver Sun, has a different ending: it discloses that the (alternate) juror excused from the trial, "[a] middle-aged woman with salt-and-pepper hair who has worn a pink tracksuit to court... has been excused for personal reasons that are unrelated to the trial."

13. A report webbed by the National Post, written by Ms. Tedesco only, recounts a complaint made to the judge by Eric Sussman about Mr. Black's comments on Mr. Radler's testimony outside of court, which Judge St. Eve accepted. "'I suggest that you tell him and admonish' him, U.S. District court Judge Amy St. Eve told Lord Black's defence lawyers this week, according to court documents. 'If you can't control him ... I'd be happy to do it.'" It also notes that Csr. Sussman made it clear that the prosecution was objecting solely to Mr. Black's comments about Mr. Radler's testimony. It notes further that the prosecution has done so in part to get the objection itself on the record, and that Edward Genson has promised to get Mr. Black to refrain from any further comments. [A CBC News item discusses the same topic.]

14. The Vancouver Province has webbed a report that works both Donald Trump's comments and Mr. Bloomfield's testimony in.

15. Paul Waldie has written a profile of Joan Maida, Mr. Black's long-time personal assistant who is expected to be the first defense witness. At its end, it mentions that Ms. Maida has a rather famous son.

16. CTV News has webbed a (not-quite-new) report on Mr. Trump's continuing feud with The View, and with Rosie O'Donnell.

17. Allan Fotheringham is once again writing about the trial, as webbed again by the Welland Tribune. In this latest column, he deploys a standard gag of his to make fun of the chief defendant.


Those of you who are fans of The Donald might have good reason to crow about this item: Three weeks before her contract expires, Rosie O'Donnell is gone from The View. [According to this CBC News report, she quit after getting into "an angry confrontation" with Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

To move back to the trial, Mark Steyn notes in his latest entry that the government, regarding the defraudment-of-shareholders-through-personal-items part of the case, seems to be worn down to waving a luxury that an office worker who can scare up (enough wherewithal to meet the payments on) a new $10,000 credit card could afford: a heated towel rail.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Exit

An article by Paul Waldie, webbed by the Globe and Mail, starts off with a not-quite-unprecedented surprise: another juror (a female) has been excused. He also reports on a meeting Judge St. Eve had with "lawyers privately for about 20 minutes before the trial began this morning. Prosecutor Eric Sussman declined to comment on the discussions." The article ends with the reason explaining why Patrick Tuite, counsel for Jack Boultbee, has been so lengthy in his cross-examination of Paul Healy, because Mr. Healy testified earlier that Mr. Boultbee had told him to write the appraisal memo.

The first report by Romina Maurino, webbed by 680 News, starts off with this admission by Mr. Healy: "A New York condo bought by Conrad Black from Hollinger International had received US$2 million in renovations that weren't mentioned but were factored into the price paid, a prosecution witness agreed Thursday under cross examination." Specifically, he "admitted 'it seemed logical' to factor the US$2 million that Black had spent renovating the condo into the purchase price," and that he "could have explained in the memo that the price Black paid included the US$3 million base cost plus the US$2 million spent on renovations and have clarified why the condo seemed so cheap." These admissions were elicited by Csr. Tuite.

An updated version of the same report, webbed by the Toronto Star, goes into a little more detail about this part of the cross-examination. At its end, it has a quote from Donald Trump himself: "'I haven’t been following the trial so there’s not much I can comment on,' he said while promoting his new building in Chicago" - on the site of the former Sun-Times building.

With regard to Mr. Trump's statement, the Financial Post has a more complete record of what he had to say. In addition to the above quote, he also said that "'I just came from New York, and as you know, in New York this is not a big story....I'd really have to see what was said,...' When asked if he expects to be called to testify, Mr. Trump replied, 'I have no idea.'"

The Chicago Sun-Times has more on The Donald's visit. He did stick to a topic that he has been more in touch with: bashing Rosie O'Donnell and The View.

The Reuters report not only reviews the testimony of Mr. Healy under Csr. Tuite's cross-examination, it also has a few questions from Ed Siskel under redirect. When asked by Csr. Siskel if the $3 million price as of December 2000 was too low, Mr. Healy replied: "'It's my belief that if nothing had been done to that apartment, if it had been left vacant, the company's interest in the apartment would have been worth more than $3 million,'... adding that the appreciation would have been 'significant.'" He also specified that Conrad Black benefitted from any increase in the apartment's value. "Asked whether he had any basis for valuing the apartments as he did, Healy said 'No.'"

Mr. Healy is finished up with his testimony, according to a later report by Ms. Maurino, which was webbed by 570 News. It has some information on the last witness to take the stand today: Lance Bloomfield, a security guard at Hollinger Inc's former head office at 10 Toronto St. He recounted his transferring of the 13 boxes out of the office of Mr. Black's personal assistant, Joan Maida, only to return them when an overseer of the relevant court order, court-appointed inspector Monique Delorme, told him to bring the boxes back to Ms. Maida's office. (Ms. Maida is slated to be the first defense witnesses.) It also notes that the prosecution is still deciding on the order of its last witnesses. Unsurprisingly, the report starts off with the Donald Trump appearance in Chicago.

Mr. Bloomfield's testimony is the highlight of tonight's AP summary, webbed by, which relates that he testified to moving 12 or 13 boxes from 10 Toronto. A longer Associated Press article, webbed by the JournalGazette Times-Courier, has more on what Mr. Bloomfield said under direct examination. He testified that he had "'misgivings'" after talking with another person - presumably, Ms. Delorme - and, after deciding that he hadn't followed the procedures he was supposed to, returned them. "When he ended his shift, he told the night security guard that 'I expected him to keep an eye on those boxes,' Bloomfield said from the stand." That night guard is expected to testify Tuesday, when court resumes sitting. (Next Monday is the Memorial Day holiday.)


While continuing his watch for the Maclean's Conrad Black trial blog, Mark Steyn makes an interesting point regarding the Barbara Black watch: the observers of her have a habit of relating every appearance, or non-appearance, of her at the trial to her friendships, or ex-friendships, with the respective prosecution witnesses. If this pattern of Barbara-watching is habitual, then she's one of the few who has a case of second-hand self-absorption. (In the same entry, he also calls attention to Mr. Healy's rather willing reversal from his previous testimony under direct examination.)

From the Chicago Reader's "News Bites" blog, Michael Miner has written a compendium of the Canadian reports on David Radler's testimony, with a recent column by Alan Fotheringham added to the writings of the three names that trial-watchers know well, for balance.

Also, from the Toronto Life Conrad Black trial blog, Roger Martin points to Mr. Radler's umbrage at being called an unreformed liar, and interprets it as a sign of moral pentience.

Another blog in the Reader, "Hot Type," has this brief suggestion for the Movie of the Week circuit at the end of its May 25th entry: "As the season of 24 drew to a close with the Conrad Black trial in full swing, the two dramas started to blur together in my mind. A Black movie needs to be made simply so that Powers Boothe, aka Vice President Daniels, can play him. It's the role Boothe was born for. David Adler might be a little trickier, but Gregory Itzin, aka President Logan, could pull him off nicely."

Media Roundup: Orchestrated Appearance

The media reports on the Conrad Black trial, webbed overnight and this morning, had a consensus (if not unanimous) focus on a scheduled, if surprise, appearance of Donald Trump at the 2002 Hollinger International annual meeting, held on 2003:

1. From Andrew Clark of the Guardian, a report that focuses on Mr. Trump's arranged-in-advance appearance. It starts off with: "The fallen press baron Conrad Black stage managed what had seemed a spontaneous show of support from Donald Trump to fend off angry investors at an annual meeting when his Hollinger empire began to unravel, a jury was told yesterday." Near its end, a summary of the cross-examination so far is provided.

2. A slightly different version of the same report has been webbed by

3. A report by Paul Waldie, webbed by the Globe and Mail, quotes the E-mail that Conrad Black sent Donald Trump, and Mr. Trump's remarks to the meeting, in full. It ends with this forecast: "During a hearing without the jury yesterday, prosecutors told Judge Amy St. Eve they expect to rest their case next Wednesday. Judge St. Eve told defence lawyers to be ready to call their first witness that day."

4. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's "Business Briefs" has a one-paragraph summary mentioning Donald Trump's appearance. It's item #3, entitled "Black Enlisted Trump."

5. A lengthy report webbed by Bloomberg, entitled "Black's Gems, Servants on Park Avenue May Sour Jurors," has lots of details on the Black's expenditures while Mr. Black still headed up Hollinger Int'l. It also notes that "[i]t is illegal to knowingly authorize a company to pay for an employee's -- or an executive's -- purely personal expenses . Benjamin Brafman, a criminal defense lawyer in New York, says anyone making personal charges to a company is defrauding its investors as well as the government because taxes aren't being paid on the reimbursements." (Unless said expenses are declared as a taxable personal benefit, which makes them part of the pay packet.)

[An updated version of this report, webbed by the Chicago Tribune, ends with a quote from an expert, to the effect that the point behind it all is to show a profile consistent with an executive who either benefits from, or might need to have recourse to, fraud.]

6. The report by Sandro Contenta of the Toronto Star also starts off with the part of the evidence introduced yesterday that dealt with Donald Trump's appearance at the annual meeting. Its second half goes into detail about Edward Genson's cross-examination of Mr. Healy. One excerpt from that cross-examination has Mr. Healy denying that he was an advocate for Richard Breeden while still the subordinate of Mr. Black, and another has him denying that he was paid extra for shafting Mr. Black.

7. CBC News has a brief CP item forecasting what today's testimony will contain. Specifically, the defense will "further question Healy Thursday about the people he talked to before writing a memo detailing the condo's worth." It ends by noting that the prosecutors plan to "call two security guards to testify about Black's removal of boxes from his Toronto office next."

8. The Edmonton Sun has a brief CP summary of the Trump-related evidence presented, and testified to, yesterday.

9. Mary Vallis' latest report, webbed by the Ottawa Citizen, begins with the Trump-related part of yesterday's trial too; it notes that Mr. Healy testified that it was he who arranged the 100-vote proxy for Mr. Trump. It also mentions that during Csr. Genson's cross-examination, he noted that Mr. Healy had already admitted to lying.

10. A column in the Toronto Sun, by Michele Mandel, portrays Mr. Healy as a sleaze. Ms. Mandel casts Mr. Trump as a fellow who was simply doing a favour for a friend.

11. Another report by Mr. Waldie, webbed by the Globe, also notes that the prosecution expects to finish up Wednesday. The defense is expected to take about three weeks. After recounting Csr. Genson's cross-examination (now over,) it contains an excerpt from Patrick Tuite's, in which he "challenged Mr. Healy over the memo and asked him repeatedly to identify the people he contacted. Mr. Tuite finally suggested that Mr. Healy did not want to give up the names for fear that his friends wouldn't back up his story. 'You don't want us to know the names,” he said to Mr. Healy.'" Mr. Healy insisted that he really couldn't recall their names. (Csr. Tuite is counsel for Jack Boultbee.)


Two blog entries today discuss bias. The first, by Douglas Bell, takes Mark Steyn to task for his pro-vindication bias, and ventures the opinion that plea bargains and immunities are needed to counter smart defense lawyers who charge top dollar for it, which (presumably) only the rich can afford.

(One of the advantages of reading the same opinion expressed over and over again, in different ways, is a threshold effect kicking in as a result. After the umpteenth time, out-of-the-box thoughts appear, such as: "why do the rich with their high-priced lawyers have advantages only when defending themselves against prosecutions based on certain specific laws? If a grown-up Richie Rich hauls off and manages to land one on the jaw of Casper the Ghost, causing injury to the extent that Casper needs a stay in the emergency room, it's hard to see how Counselor Pricetop can rich-lawyer his way out of a conviction for assault, except by taking advantage of one or more procedural error(s) by the arresting officer and/or the prosecution. That don't require a four-figure-an-hour tab; it merely requires scrupulosity. Avoiding an acquittal based on a technicality requires little more than scrupulosity too.

(Of course, mentioning this point tends to induce the true believer into shifting the subject to exciting anecdotes that confute rich businesspeople with the Mafia, or to other tales that really belong on daytime TV...)

Secondly, one from Mr. Steyn himself, about the puzzle that is Paul Healy. He wonders if Mr. Healy violated his fiduciary duty of impartiality by being partial to Tweedy, Browne.

(Mr. Steyn seems to have slipped into an egalitarian mindset with this one. My own guess-interpretation of the duty of impartiality says it refers to procedure, and not to positive action to make sure that one shareholder isn't in a better condition than the others regardless of effort exerted. Tweedy, Browne may have simply bugged Mr. Healy more than the others.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday's Installment of Paul Healy's Words

According to a report by Paul Waldie, webbed by the Globe and Mail, Mr. Healy testified under direct examination that Conrad Black asked Donald Trump to attend the 2002 Hollinger International annual meeting, held in 2003, "in order to voice support for company management..." After quoting from the request E-mail from Mr. Black to Mr. Trump that jurors were shown, written "shortly before the annual meeting, which was held in New York in May 2003," it relays Mr. Healy's testimony that "the company had to scramble to get proxy votes to Mr. Trump in order for him to speak. Only shareholders are allowed to speak at the meetings."

The report also contains details of the cross-examination of Mr. Healy by Edward Genson, which began this morning. [Early this morning, according to Mark Steyn, if you adjust for time zone.] "Lord Black's lawyer, Edward Genson, began his cross-examination of Mr. Healy by showing the jury several supportive e-mails Mr. Healy sent Lord Black in 2002 and 2003... In [one], he told Lord Black: "I am so impressed by your fortitude and I will support any tack you take."... Mr. Genson said Mr. Healy stopped supporting [Conrad Black] once a special committee of the company's board started investigating allegations. Mr. Genson noted that Mr. Healy remained on the company's payroll and even received more money from Hollinger." Also probed was Mr. Healy's change of employment from Conrad Black to Richard Breeden. Mr Healy replied, "'I stopped supporting Conrad when I found out what he'd done.'"

Romina Maurino has written a report, webbed by 680 News, which has more details on what Mr. Healy testified to while under direct examination. In addition to a more elaborate description of the support that Mr. Trump gave to Mr. Black, including the context, it also relates that Mr. Healy "also said he got a call from Radler, Black's former associate and the prosecution's star witness, after he was interviewed by [the] special committee set up in 2003 by Black... 'He asked me whether or not I ratted him out to the special committee,' Healy said."

Mr. Waldie was interviewed on BNN, as aired at 1:47 PM ET. He started by discussing the entry of Donald Trump's name into the record. The prosecution doing so expands the scope of Mr. Trump's own testimony, should he be called, from simple testimony about the business element of the 60th birthday party. He may decide not show up, according to Mr. Waldie, because he'd rather not be cross-examined over his support of both Mr. Black and Mr. Radler at the shareholders meeting held in '03. The cross-examination of Mr. Healy so far has been "very tough." Csr. Genson should be at it for the rest of the day.

Andrew Stern's report, from Reuters, starts with the introduction of Mr. Trump in the trial too. It reminds us that Mr. Healy is testifying under a grant of immunity. Mr. Trunp's support is the highlight focused on by an AP summary webbed by

A more detailed AP report, by Mike Robinson and webbed by The Southern Illinoisan, mentions (as does the summary) that "[a]t the time, Trump had just bought the Chicago Sun-Times Building from Hollinger and he and Black were getting along well." Near its end, more details from the cross-examination are disclosed: Csr. Genson made a point of asking how friendly Mr. Healy is with Gordon Paris and how much he and Mr. Breeden, his current boss, "'pal around'". Mr. Healy answered, to the latter, "'We have [palled around].'"

The Bloomberg report, written by Andrew Harris and Bob Van Voris, quotes another E-mail sent from Mr. Healy to Mr. Black when the latter was in a spot of trouble: "'I and my Christian Scientist practitioner mother are praying for you and for Hollinger at this time.''' It also has Mr. Healy's 2003 pay from Hollinger Int'l: $345,000.

A more recent report by Ms. Maurino, webbed by CBC News, has this excerpt from Csr. Genson's cross-examination: "Defence lawyer Ed Genson attacked Healy's testimony, noting that he had admitted to lying in the past and was testifying under an immunity deal.... [He] took Healy to task over the false memo, asking him why he wasn't fired after admitting he lied....

"'Do you think part of the reason they let you keep your job is that you blamed it on other people, you blamed Conrad Black?', Genson asked." Mr. Healey's answer: "'I was told to write the memo'".

More details about both of the above events of the trial are in the National Post report by Mary Vallis. It identifies the letter from the Bloomberg report, quoted from above, as being sent on May 21, 2002, and quotes the last question in the line excerpted in the quotes just above this paragraph: "'Until you made up what he'd done,'" Mr. Genson shot back." It begins with the testimony about Mr. Trump's appearance at the meeting held in '03.

That appearance makes up the bulk of the report webbed by Pravda. It contains no details on the cross-examination.

An update of the report webbed by CBC News by Ms. Maurino adds Csr. Genson's reaction to Mr. Healy's claim that he had simply done what he was told with respect to the valuation memo for the Manhattan apartment: "Genson dismissed that statement, saying Healy had stood up to Black various times in the past and that he was wealthy enough that he didn't need to keep a job that apparently forced him to behave unethically."

Bloomberg's has been updated too, and webbed by the Chicago Tribune. In its middle, it has more excerpts from Csr. Genson's cross-examination. One series of questions has Mr. Healy testified that "he was 'a little irritated,' with Black before [the shareholders'] meeting" held in 2002. He also said that "he helped one of Hollinger's biggest investors identify suspect disclosures in the company's annual report for discussion at the 2002 shareholders' meeting." When later asked if he had just wanted to do Richard Breeden's dirty work in late 2003, though, Mr. Healy answered, "'No... I am an advocate for justice."

The Independent's Stephen Foley was written a report which focuses on the "'esoteric favour'" Conrad Black asked of Donald Trump. So has James Bone of the Times Online; his report has a link to a copy of the entire E-mail. A third report focuing on that E-mail to Mr. Trump has been webbed by International; it's an updated Reuters report. In addition to having a more complete quote from that E-mail, it also reveals that the proxy Mr. Trump got was for 100 shares. It has a new snippet from the cross-examination near its end.


Douglas Bell of the Toronto Life Conrad Black trial blog has an extended analysis of Andrew Potter's social-climbing article, which expresses Mr. Bell's disagreements with its thesis.

Also, Mr. Steyn, in his Maclean's Conrad Black trial blog, has a sentence in a recent entry that's worth lingering over: "[T]heir urge to retrospectively criminalize the normal compromises of business life is far more worrying than Conrad Black buying a Park Avenue apartment at what the US government feels is an insufficiently bloated price."

(There's been a lot of compromising in the business world over the last several decades, which implies that if squelching this habit is the effect of the new corporate-governance laws and their enforcement, then the business environment has the potential to be seriously retooled, as the securities industry was in the 1930s.)

A more recent entry has Mr. Steyn saying that the "assessment" that Mr. Healy conducted was less than thorough.

Finally, the AOL blog "Blogging Stocks" has an all-but-explicit pro-comeuppance entry about the Hollinger annual meetings that have been entered into evidence at the trial. According to the entry, Conrad Black falls into a pattern of "arrogance and a disdain for shareholders and critics."

Media Roundup: Meeting Conflaguration

The media reports, webbed overnight and this morning that cover the Conrad Black trial, focus almost exclusively on the penultimate day of Paul Healy's testimony under direct examination:

1. The Associated Press report, webbed by the International Herald Tribune, focuses on the events of, and associated with, the Hollinger International annual meeting held in 2002. It also mentions an incident where "he and Black met with a group of prospective investors who asked about the payments as well as executive perquisites such as use of the corporate jet." According to Mr. Healy, Mr. Black responded, "'I can have a 747 if I want'... The investors decided against buying shares in Hollinger, Healy testified."

2. Andrew Clark of the Guardian has written a report that not only recounts the annual meeting sparks, but also the 1998 anonymous-posting incident. It quotes an E-mail in which Mr. Black "compared himself to two Shakespearean characters in a single sentence: 'All that I said about this in the past four years will come to pass, and the drama will change from King Lear to Julius Caesar (minus the last act, one dares to hope).' An abridged version of this same report has been webbed by

3. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a paragraph on Mr. Healy's testimony in its compendium of business stories. It's item #3, entitled "Jury hears shareholders."

4. A brief summary of yesterday's testimony has been webbed by the Malaysia Sun. The language in it is somewhat exotic.

5. David Litterick of the Telegraph has written a report, entitled "Black’s $3m apartment 'was excessive'", that begins with: "The former head of investor relations at Conrad Black’s media company has testified that he warned the former newspaper proprietor that his shareholders were unlikely to look kindly at his use of a multimillion-dollar corporate apartment on New York’s Park Avenue. "

6. The Chicago Tribune has a report from Ameet Sachdev, entitled "Defendant dismissed concerns from shareholders, jurors told". It describes the tapes as providing "a taste of Black's combative personality and penchant for flowery language."

7. From Theresa Tedesco of the National Post, a report entitled "Black's sharp tongue silences: More he speaks, more likely his co-accused will not." It concludes that Mr. Black's statements about the trial outside of the courtroom have not only ruined his chances at testifying in his own defense, but also have permanently crimped the chances of the other three co-defendants testifying on their own behalf.

8. A briefing from the Canadian Press, webbed by CBC News, forecasts that the cross-examination of Mr. Healy will begin today.

9. The Globe and Mail has webbed Paul Waldie's latest report, which contains the phrase "Lord Black's disdain for aggressive shareholder activism" to describe his controversial statements at the annual meeting and his E-mails surrounding it. At its end, it notes that the suggested response, which Mr. Healy had shied away from, "blamed short sellers for the low share price" as the time of its posting (1998.)

10. A report from Janet Whitman of the New York Post, entitled "Conrad Black's Plane Chutzpah," adds an additional detail about that anonymous posted response from 1998: it claimed "anonymously that the 70 percent rise in Hollinger's stock over the last year was set to resume, the jury heard." (This would count as a "forward-looking statement," to use the relevant term from Ontario's securities law. I don't know the relevant part of American securities law, but it seems like a statement that only an analyst would be permitted to issue.)

11. Michael Sneed's latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times contains this note on the trial coverage: "The Canadian and Brit press are still going gaga over coverage of newspaper baron Conrad Black's federal fraud trial here, which is this/close to a Zzzzzz to Chicago readers."

12. The Sun-Times also has a report by Mary Wisniewski, which begins with: "Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black got angry at an underling when he tried to warn former Gov. Jim Thompson about trouble at a shareholder meeting, according to testimony in Black's federal fraud trial Tuesday." The rest of the article indicates the prosecution's attempt to tie the case together with Mr. Healy's testimony.

13. The Edmonton Sun has webbed the latest CP report on Mr. Healy's testimony yesterday.

14. From the Toronto Star, the report on Mr. Healy's testimony describes the statements by Mr. Black entered into the trial record yesterday as "colourful remarks." It contains a concession by Mr. Black at the 2002 annual meeting, held in 2003, that "conceded he could not think of another example in the industry where similar payments went to executives rather than the company."

15. Another report by Mr. Waldie, also webbed by the Globe, discusses the possibility that two employees of two institutional investors in Hollinger Int'l will be called to the stand. Counsel for Peter Atkinson has already filed a motion to prevent them from testifying. Patrick Tuite, counselor for Jack Boultbee, also filed a mistrial motion on the basis that many of the shareholders' complaints at the annual meeting held in 2002 were irrelevant to the charges and "could cloud juror's judgment." (This motion was rejected by Judge St. Eve.)

16. The ChronicleHerald's "Canada In Brief" collection mentions the trial in its second item, "Fraud trial hears Black dismissed complaints."

17. The Edmonton Journal has a report by Mary Vallis, entitled "Black disliked cranky shareholders." It mentions that, as a transcript of Mr. Black's words was shown to the jury and the rest of the courtroom's inhabitants, "Black swivelled his seat and closely read his own words to shareholders." (Once a writer...)

18. A brief Canadian Press report, webbed by the Vancouver Province and entitled "Black credits Nixon book with helping him cope," contains this concession from Mr. Black: "The former media baron says he can see that some might find a connection between the ordeal of Nixon, who resigned in disgrace in 1974, and his trial."

19. The Saskatchewan Leader-Post has another brief CP report, re-capping yesterday's testimony.

20. A longer recapping has been webbed by the Guelph Mercury, which contains this excerpt from Mr. Black's words at the 2002 annual meeting held in 2003: "Black defended the company's actions, telling shareholders at the 2003 meeting that steps taken by him and other executives 'were not the antics of greedy, self-serving controlling shareholders' but rather decisions approved by independent directors and properly disclosed.

"'We vehemently deny any impropriety," Black said in the recording..."

21. Mr. Waldie had written a third report, also webbed by the Globe, which itemizes some of the expenses for remodelling the Manhattan apartment. The largest cost listed in it: "$685,000 for architectural woodworking and doors."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Quote Of A Dramatis Personum In The Conrad Black Case

Value investor Christopher Browne, of Tweedy, Browne (the firm that Laura Jerski is with) got quoted in today's issue of the E-zine The Daily Reckoning. It's in the main article, written by Christopher Hancock. Here's the quote:
As value investor Christopher Browne points out, there is nothing wrong with owning a great business that grows at fantastic rates… it's a matter of paying the right price for that business.

Browne goes on to say that investors should determine an intrinsic value, wait for someone to overreact or under-react to news and buy the stock when the market prices the shares for less than they're worth.
The quote appears in a primer on 'value' investing in the broader sense, through using the ups and downs of a hypothetical company in the medical biotech industry called "CureAll Pharmaceuticals" along with a mention of a real up and down that I remember myself - Yahoo!, which went from $432.69/share as of the end of 1999 to about $25/share as of the end of 2000.

(If you're up on Austrian economics, you'll love this statement near the end of the intro to the issue linked to above: "Cheap money is making a lot of things a lot dearer than they used to be." It seems to be a double-meaning in-joke; at any rate, it packs a certain charm in it.)

The Verdict: Too Outspoken For His Own Good?

There was one segment of tonight's episode of The Verdict that dealt with the Conrad Black trial; it discussed the issue of whether or not Mr. Black has been imprudent wiith his comments on his trial outside of the courtroom. There were two guests: former prosecutor Pat Woodward (quoted here) and former "associate" of Mr. Black, Joan Crockatt, former managing editor of the Calgary Herald (quoted here.)

Csr. Woodward started off by wondering out loud where Mr. Black's lawyers have been. Those statements of his can “only hurt him.” Ms. Crockatt added that defense counsel Edward Genson did pre-warn about behavior like this in his opening statement. Mr. Black is becoming more outspoken, now that he sees the trial going his way. It's “smug” of him.

Csr. Woodward then said that Judge St. Eve should be “outraged” about this. She issued a pre-trial order forbidding arguing the case outside of the courtroom. Conrad Black expressing confidence in the judicial system - specifically, his confidence in the jury - is okay; saying that he’s sure to walk, isn’t.

Ms. Todd asked if the jury was influenced by these words. Csr. Woodward replied that if they have read or heard any of them, a voir dire can be ordered to see if they’ll disregard. He thinks, though, that Mr. Black's verbal forthrightness “shows disrespect” to the judge because of that order.

Normally, Ms. Todd observed, it's difficult even to get an interview with Mr. Black. Why would he start a book tour during the trial? Ms. Crockatt offered this opinion: although we don’t know about the timing, we do know that he’s a writer, and writing takes off pressure for a writer. It's possible that Mr. Black timed it to maximize publicity for the book. It could be that he wants to show he’s a worthy member of society still. He is “strong-willed.” But, he should clam up for the rest of the trial. His outspokenness so far may get him a reprimand for the judge, but it won’t jeopardize his trial.

Csr. Woodward observed that Mr. Black won’t show any public remorse because he will appeal if convicted, but nevertheless, in Csr. Woodward's opinion, Mr. Black is implicitly criticizing the court, as well as the prosecution, when he calls the prosecution’s case a “fraud.”

Whether or not Mr. Black takes the stand will be crucial as to whether or not his words will hang him. The prosecution already has a lot of words that they can use against him in cross-examination. His defense counsels seem to have given up hope that Mr. Black will testify. Ms. Crockett finished by opining that Mr. Black hasn’t hung himself yet....

(One possibility that neither of them mentioned is Judge St. Eve evening the score by being lenient to the prosecution in the courtroom - a practice that Mark Steyn continually objects to. If true, then we have a tiger-by-the-tail situation. This alleged leniancy, if real, can of course have other reasons for it, such as an anticipation that the prosecution will appeal.)

[This episode of The Verdict will be broadbanded as of 10:30 pm tonight, and will stay up until about 10:30 PM or so tomorrow.]

Pride of Healy

CBC News has webbed a Canadian Press report with the first details of Paul Healy's testimony today. He related that "Conrad Black dismissed shareholder complaints about management fees as 'nonsense' and hoped to quash the 'epidemic of shareholder idiocy' before Hollinger International's annual meeting in 2002... Healy also told prosecutors that one of Black's co-defendants, Peter Atkinson, told him that some of the information being related to shareholders about the CanWest deal was inaccurate." The report itself elaborates on Mr. Black's words, either as written or as Mr. Healy remembers them, to prepare for that annual meeting, including a statement from Mr. Black saying that "he would have liked to 'blow their asses off.'"

Paul Waldie has written a report, webbed by the Globe and Mail, which has that curt quote, reproduced just above, in its first paragraph. The next notes that the quote came from an E-mail written by Mr. Black in 2002, and the next several ones add a context, which includes another more well-known E-mail from the time. The report also discloses this potential shift in prosecutorial strategy: "Earlier, the court heard that lead prosecutor Eric Sussman may call Hollinger shareholders as witnesses at the trial. Mr. Sussman's comments came during a brief hearing without the jury present as lawyers argued over edits to audiotapes of Hollinger shareholder meetings in 2002 and 2003.... Mr. Sussman indicated that he may call Gene Fox, who works for Cardinal Capital management, as a witness Mr. Fox raised concerns about several issues during the annual meetings. Mr. Sussman said the shareholders will testify that they did not know full details of the non-compete payments." The latter half of this report contains information posted earlier today.

Mr. Waldie also gave an interview on BNN, aired at 1:55 PM ET, in which he reported on more evidence from the prosecution. This morning was the first time that the jurors had heard Conrad Black's voice, thanks to an audio recording of his words at the 2001 Hollinger Int'l annual meeting (held in '02.) It was introduced by the prosecution to show that Mr. Black had misled shareholders. Before that tape was played, Mr. Healy testified about "a lot of complaints" and some questions from shareholders. He also testified about the concern he had felt that Mr. Black had taken the controversies too lightly in his post-shareholders'-meeting directors' meeting, and he testified that he had gone over Mr. Black's head to them. As a result, Conrad Black left several angry voice mails to the effect that it was his company, not Mr. Healy's. (These tid-bits are, of course, old news to Black watchers. One unanswered question about this incident, though: was Mr. Healy a shareholder in Hollinger Int'l at that time? If so, then a case could be made that he wasn't plainly insubordinate.) The jurors were paying attention - all of them. They were taking notes through this part of the prosecution's case. It's difficult to say, though, how influential this part of the case has been. Mr. Healy will probably be on the stand for the rest of the week. Then, some testimony about the 13 boxes will be given, and then the prosecution's case is "pretty much done."

An updated CP report, by Romina Maurino and webbed by 570 News, has more details of the going-over-the-CEO's-head incident that Mr. Healy is testifying about. It says that Mr. Healy testified to knocking on the door of David Radler and Mark Kipnis before deciding to go to the board. For meeting with them, he had later received three angry voice messages from Mr. Black. "'He said that I had overstepped my bounds,'" Healy said, adding Black told him: 'This is my company, I'm the controlling shareholder and I'll decide what the governor (Thompson) needs to know and when.'" (Interestingly, Mr. Black had not said "I'm your boss," according to both present testimony and past writings on this incident.)

Andrew Stern of Reuters has written an article on today's testimony so far, which begins with: "Jurors at Conrad Black's fraud trial heard a tape on Tuesday of angry shareholders questioning millions of dollars in payments Black and other executives had received, and they were read a memo in which the former media baron excoriated his company's investors as idiots." Just after, it refers to Mr. Healy's evidence as "show-and-tell testimony". The rest of the article reports on the 2001 annual meeting and the preparations for it, and also passes on some questions Mr. Black had faced and his answers to them.

The Bloomberg report, by Bob Van Voris and Andrew Harris, recounts the highlights of today's testimony so far, but adds a solicitation of a comment from Tweedy, Browne analyst Laura Jereski about the events of 2002 being introduced into evidence today. She declined.

Mary Vallis also has a report out, webbed by the Financial Post. According to Ms. Vallis, Mr. Healy testified that the angry voice messages came after Mr. Healy had "called Mr. Radler and 'pleaded with him' to have lunch with Mr. Thompson and relay what had happened at the shareholders' meeting." With regard to a 1998 incident in which Mr. Healy was, in Mr. Black's estimation, insufficiently upbeat in a drafted reply to a negative posting that had appeared on a Yahoo! message board, he testified that soon after, "someone using the nickname 'enspector' posted a response on the Internet... 'It resembles strongly the language Mr. Black suggested I put in the posting,' Mr. Healy told the jury."

A brief AP summary, webbed by, has selected the 3-message reprimand as the highlight of today's testimony so far.

The first part of a further update of Ms. Maurino's earlier report, as webbed by 940 News, contains, among other additions, these items: Mr. Radler, after Mr. Healy had begged him to go to the directors, had "'chickened out,' Healy testified, and he doubted Radler would ever talk to Thompson." After relating Mr. Black's angry reaction, Mr. Healy further testified: "In a later e-mail, Black reiterated his opinion that the meeting 'went fairly well,' saying that there had been 'no threat of litigation ... and we fought (complaining shareholders Christopher) Browne and (Lee) Cooperman to a civilized standstill.'" Mr. Healy also testified about a later written request from Mr. Black to he: "'Please do your part in stamping out among our own personnel this nonsense that we have deprived them of value in their share options,' Black wrote. "Two years from now no one will remember any of this."

The near-end of a report by James Bone of the Times Online discloses a decision by the prosecution, not announced explicitly, to refrain from introducing E-mails from Conrad Black to his wife, Barbara. "The prosecution had said that it would use a computer disk containing 11,000 e-mails to demonstrate that Lord Black knew that his wife was billing personal expenses, such as jogging gear, to the company. But the judge, Amy St Eve, has declared Lord Black’s effort to claim 'marital privilege' for the e-mails 'moot' – apparently because the Government no longer plans to present them."

A more detailed AP report, webbed by the Chicago Daily Southtown, includes an excerpt from the shareholders' questioning of Mr. Black at the 2001 annual meeting: "'I don't understand why a corporation that has a market capitalization of $1 billion needs some outside organization to provide financial services to it,' Cooperman said."

Stephen Foley of The Independent has written a report that includes details on what Mr. Black had spent to renovate the 2nd floor apartment, and the smaller apartment that Holinger Int'l paid to renovate. From it: "The fallen media mogul spent $5,300 on heated towel rails, $6,000 on shower doors and $7,000 on window sashes as part of the overhaul, which is at the centre of one of the fraud charges against him."

Another itemization, containing one item, has been passed along by Mark Steyn: "The government today introduced, with great fanfare, an e-mail from Conrad Black to Paul Healy announcing that his bonus for the year 2002 would be $175,000. The prosecutors attached great significance to this, and so did Mr Healy, not least because he'd been expecting 250 grand."

And finally, an article in Medill Reports: Chicago is entitled "Former Hollinger exec implies Black himself posted stock info." Unlike the others above, it details the 1998 posting controversy in this way: "In one e-mail, Healy testified, Black wrote a script for Healy to publish in response to growing shareholder unrest about Hollinger earnings confusion, and said that if Healy wouldn’t, then Black might do it himself.

"'Dear Paul- Don’t be so straight-laced,' Black wrote after Healy refused to publish the script. 'Post anonymously if you must. What you wrote is worse than no response at all and makes us look like jerks.'"

"Healy then identified an anonymous post on Yahoo Finance made days after Healy again refused to publish the script, which matched word-for-word the script that Black had ordered Healy to post." The report itself continues at that point by noting that Mr. Healy has been granted immunity from prosecution "for his part in the alleged $74 million fraud on the company’s shareholders for which Black, Kipnis, and former company executives John Boultbee and Peter Atkinson are on trial."


In his wrap-up of last weekend's top Conrad Black stories, Douglas Bell of the Toronto Life Conrad Black trial blog, after quoting some of Mr. Black's more quotable quotes from the Guardian interview, settles upon a fictional alter ego for "our Conrad"... Toad of Toad Hill.

Mark Steyn's burst of blog entries today include an interesting variance from his usual pro-vindication emphasis: the conclusion that Conrad Black had made a mistake by letting his name appear as "'The Lord Black of Crossharbour, PC, OC, etc, etc.'" on thje 2001 Hollinger Int'l annual report rather than as "Conrad M. Black." Paul Healy was genuinely concerned about it too, and told Mr. Steyn to his face back in May 2002. In a more recent entry, he reports that Judge St. Eve refused to let an unfiled draft report to the SEC into evidence. He, of course, complains about the "incredible leeway" Judge St. Eve has tended to grant the prosecution, but reads nothing into it except for the obvious inference.

Media Roundup: Lines Between The Dots

The media reports, webbed overnight and the morning, on the Conrad Black trial have concentrated on Paul Healy's testimony under direct examination:

1. From, as webbed by, a report that begins with: "Conrad Black intended to buy his luxurious Hollinger corporate apartment in New York but was unable to do so until he received a 'non-competition' fee as part of a sale of company assets, his former head of investor relations testified on Monday." It also relates that Mr. Healy testified that he was sure that Mr. Black "was able to pay $3m for his corporate apartment only because he received those payments." He testified further that a "fictitious" assessment for the apartment was drawn up, and that he had lied to back it up. The report concludes: "His testimony provides an important element of the prosecution case, particularly regarding Lord Black's spending habits and his allegedly fraudulent statements to disgruntled shareholders."

2. The Sydney Morning Herald has webbed a Reuters report on Mr. Healy's testimony.

3. Paul Waldie's latest report, webbed by the Globe and Mail, relates that Mr. Healy had used the phrase "'an intentional mistake,'" which the reports on his testimony have translated into "lie." It also identifies Edward Siskel as the direct examiner of him. Details of Mr. Healy's testimony in the report include: Conrad Black agreed to pick up the tab after the renovations were complete; the maintenance costs, which Hollinger Int'l picked up, ran as high as $131,000 per year; that both Mr. Black and Jack Boultbee told him that the apartment would be transferred to Mr. Black at cost; and, that Mr. Healy "knew the apartment was worth more than $3-million, but he did what he was told. Mr. Siskel noted that Lord Black increased the value of his apartment by 70 per cent, while no added value was assigned to the Hollinger unit."

4. A CP report, webbed by CBC News, says that there is more testimony from Mr. Healy under direct examination today - specifically, records from the annual meetings held in 2002 and '03.

5. Bloomberg's report, written by Andrew Harris and Bob Van Voris, recounts Mr. Healy's testimony along with a wrap-up of Jonathan Rosenberg's at its end.

6. The Vancouver Province has webbed a report by Mary Vallis, which relates that the annual maintenance cost for the apartment "ranged from $68,000 to more than $131,000 a year." It also says: "Throughout Healy's testimony, Edward Genson, one of Black's defence lawyers, raised objections about the line of questions, saying they were 'terribly' and 'unfairly' prejudicial to Black. 'It's like death by 1,000 cuts,' Genson told Judge Amy St. Eve."

A more complete version of the same report, webbed by the Montreal Gazette, further discloses on page 2 of it that Judge St. Eve "would not be swayed and Siskel continued his line of questioning when the jury returned to the room." Mr. Healy also testified that a memo he wrote about the transaction "stipulated Hollinger would pay for the care and maintenance of both apartments."

7. From Janet Whitman of the New York Post, a report that notes, like the others, that Mr. Healy was anxious to get the apartment off Hollinger Int'l's books. It also notes that "Black's justification for the lack of premium has been that he spent $2 million renovating the apartment. But Healy noted that Hollinger got no credit in the swap for its expensive makeover of the ground-floor apartment."

8. Also from Ms. Whitman and webbed by the Post, a report entitled "He Calls Fed's Case Bull****." The contents, a collection of trial-related snippets from the Guardian interview, are adequately summarized by the title.

9. A report from the Toronto Star also contains the same highlights that the other reports on Mr. Healy's testimony yesterday have, but it ends with this piece of Mr. Healy's testimony: "Healy said he then received a call from Hollinger executive Jack Boultbee, telling him to call New York real estate experts who would justify Black's $3 million purchase price as fair market value.

"Healy said he called real estate experts but never stressed the market value issue. Yet he wrote a December 2000 memo to Boultbee insisting experts agreed.

"'It was hyperbole on my part,' he said, referring to his memo."

10. A brief summary of Mr. Healy's testimony has been webbed by the Evening Times Online.

11. According to another report by Mr. Waldie, also webbed by the Globe, all has not gone badly for the defense yesterday in the Healy matter, despite Mr. Healy's direct testimony seemingly backing up the prosecution's allegation of a scheme. "Lawyers for Lord Black and Mr. Boultbee won a ruling Monday that could give them some extra ammunition to go after Mr. Healy on his testimony about the apartment. Judge Amy St. Eve has ordered a New York law firm to turn over some of the notes it made during interviews with Mr. Healy in July 2003." The firm in question has refused to do so up until now.

12. The Daily Mail has a summary of its own, reporting on Mr. Healy's testimony yesterday.


The newer activities of Mr. Healy's new top boss, Richard Breeden, have made the Kansas City Star. It reveals that Mr. Breeden, in his new capacity as a big institutional investor, is still using the same strong language (both complimentary and critical) that he used in the Special Committee report - only this time, instead of legalities, he's shifted the use of that kind of discourse to more ambiguous business difficulties such as maladroit marketing campaigns: "Richard C. Breeden, a major Applebee’s International Inc. shareholder, last month characterized the company as having 'a capable management team and a strong, high-integrity board.'... He [earlier had] described some of Applebee’s moves as 'an unmitigated disaster.' And in language only a bit softer than the ruthless tone he used to skewer disgraced former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and fallen publishing magnate Conrad Black, Breeden said Applebee’s marketing was an 'embarrassment' and the finance department 'failed to grasp the most basic concepts of return on capital.'" The same report also mentions that many of those negative comments were "made public in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission" and "were part of Breeden’s bid to win four seats on Applebee’s board."

(A cautionary note: head honchos who use that kind of strong wordings do tend to be sized up as not-quite-all-there by wiser, if more cyncial, denizens of the corporate world - especially in the realm of subordinate selection. It's a sad fact that a man who genuinely believes what he says, one possessing a kind of integrity, is like blood to mosquiters - a woeful tale at least as old as Othello. Breeden-watchers should watch for what tricks he uses to flush out Machiavellians from his home base - tricks that could be characterized as "wearing the Borgia ring" as a spotter for any Nicky-boy in his ranks.)

Conrad Black interviews

The first interview was on TVOntario; the broadcast I watched was aired at 11 PM ET last Sunday. The show was "Conversations with Alan Gregg;" this particular interview originally aired on TVO last Friday. Its subject was his latest book, the biography Invincible Quest: the Life of Richard Milhous Nixon.

According to Conrad Black, Richard Nixon's lonerhood came from his early poverty and independent (self-helpful) attitude. He was a “strange” fellow, but made up for it by being well-informed and capable while in office. He was also a good speechmaker.

Nixon hated the media, imprudently, and reached over them through television. This attitude was a mistake on his part. He thought “everything was difficult” and personal success never came easy, at least for him.

Nixon and Kissinger were quite a team. They respected each other’s abilities, but were suspicious of each other’s “personality quirks.” Nixon’s prime achievement was geopolitical. He successfully waged peace without crippling NATO in the process.

When Mr. Gregg asked why, given Nixon's real policies, he was considered “right-wing,” Mr. Black answered that he was both poor when young and skeptical of big-government programs designed to help the poor. (He didn't take the State's coin, nor did he endorse others doing so.)

Mr. Nixon had a certain magic act when making a speech, of “pulling the rabbit out of a hat” in one. He had a gift, but not like Reagan’s gift of political hypnosis.

With respect to Watergate, Mr. Black said it was a “shabby” incident, but Nixon was made the scapegoat for the politics of the age, including for the dark side of the Kennedys. Nixon, though, was involved in those egregious political activities when they were shut down. He was often isolated in the White House. At times, he gave foolish orders that were ignored. He was also very loyal to his aides, a lifetime trait with respect to his friends regardless of their poltical affiliation, until things went seriously awry, which the media pounced on. His paranoia grew while in the White House.

With regard to the “smoking gun,” Mr. Black avers that "it wasn't much of one." All Nixon did was okay veering off the FBI from a Watergate investigation, an okaying that was ignored. (A more doubtful age could chalk it up to Nixon dabbling in a bit of, stipulatedly corrupt, 'constituency work' for an important unknown.) That tape snippet didn’t directly implicate him in a crime, but it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” at the time. He couldn’t risk an impeachment trial, because he had too little political credibility as of then. He chalked up his resignation to “mistakes,” and never admitted to a crime - correctly, in Mr. Black's opinion.

His legacy is, as of now, a seemingly eternal object of fascination to the American people. He was “seminal” in foreign policy and “prophetic” in certain aspects of domestic policy.

With regard to the trial, Mr. Black described the charges he's facing as “outrageous,” and expects to be vindicated. In Mr. Black's estimation, the chances of he being convicted are “less than zero.” This belief gives a “confidence” to him that keeps him going. Neverthless, it has been very stressful. He himself doesn’t read or watch the media reports on it, unless they are screened by counsel first. He’s saving and recording the reports, to be watched once it's over.


(I have one comment regarding all of these interviews for his book, both in the recent past and in the near future: Conrad Black is well aware that he himself is being compared to Richard Nixon, and has adjusted for it to the point that any such analysis is likely to give misinformation. In the above interview, he expressed a subtle but definite contempt for amateur psychoanalyzing of public figures. If he gets amused enough to play around with that comparison, then such comparison attempt will yield disinformation.)

A later interview with Seamus O'Reagan, aired on CTV NewsNet between 7:35 and 7:50 AM, included Conrad Black explicitly distancing himself from Richard Nixon in two ways: one, Mr. Black's own hands are cleaner than Mr. Nixon's were at the time of Watergate; two, Mr. Black's own world-historical role is far more "mundane" than Mr. Nixon's was. He did, though include a critique of the use of plea bargains near the end of his book, saying in the interview that they lead to "terrible abuses" of the criminal justice system. He also said that writing the book, a chore that could be done any time he had free time, kept his mind away from the trial.

There have been two media reports on this interview, one from Canadian Press and another from CTV News itself.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Too good not to pass along

From Titans by Peter C. Newman, page 103 (hc.):

Bay Street [Canada's answer to Wall Street] stockbrokers and lawyers keep being fined or carted off to jail at irregular but frequent intervals for cheating their clients. In one ruling about the questionable activities of Toronto lawyer Glen Erickson, the Ontario Securities Commission dented his defense by coming down with a judgement that stated, "We have trouble with Mr. Erikson's assertion that the disclosure was made to shareholders at the meeting, when he, in fact, was the only person at that meeting."

If you thought Conrad Black was bad...


Incidentally: the reaction amongst more Establishmentarian stockbrokers and Bay Street lawyers to items like the one quoted above tends to be a superior smirk or chuckle, which connotes "I'd have to fall pretty far before I was reduced to ever doing something like that." They tend to be quite self-assured in their conviction that characters like Mr. Erikson are their natural inferiors; to make a subtle point bluntly, their natural inferiors. Other fields of endeavour are a different boat.

Wind-Up For Healy

Mark Steyn has this report on the cross-examination of Jonathan Rosenberg, in the middle of a plaint for Mark Kipnis (but no other defendant) as a victim of prosecution abuse: "This morning Mark Kipnis' lawyers slogged doggedly through the fine print of 2003 Special Committee interviews. The witness, a blandly confident corporate lawyer called Rosenberg, testified that they didn't take notes of all interviews with Kipnis, that the notes they did have of some interviews were not verbatim, that they often just swung by his office in Chicago when his lawyers weren't present and that he was always very cooperative."

The Toronto Star has webbed a Canadian Press report, on the cross-examination of Csr. Rosenberg by Mr. Kipnis' counsel as well. It relays that "Mark Kipnis' lawyer says the former Hollinger lawyer only suggested there may be something wrong with so-called 'non-competes' when he was interviewed by a special committee in 2003 because he was confused after a long day of questioning." In addition, Csr. [Swartz] suggested that Mr. Kipnis had given hearsay answers to the Special Committee, as he had no first-hand knowledge of any payments made to any executives that were tied to the sale to CanWest. [An updated version of the same report adds, among other items, these details about the cross-examination: "'He told you he was called in for a week to help out with the paperwork,' Swartz told Rosenberg.... Swartz said that comment (from Mark Kipnis to the effect that the non-compete agreements were 'silly') did not refer to any final deal actually drafted by Kipnis, but rather to an initial purchase agreement that was later re-written."]

According to a report by Paul Waldie, webbed by the Globe and Mail, Csr. Rosenberg is finished testifying, and Mr. Healy has started. He "began testifying at the Conrad Black trial by telling jurors the company had a duty to treat all shareholders fairly." With regard to the cross-examination, the defense has filed a motion to introduce Mr. Healy's own compensation records, as his pay packet from 2003 until he left may be suspiciously high. "Prosecutor Eric Sussman rejected that assertion and said the compensation records were irrelevant to the case. Judge Amy St. Eve will rule on the issue later Monday." The plan of attack for Edward Genson's cross-examination seems to be a focus on the immunity deal that Mr. Healy reached with the prosecution. The end of the report contains another item about the testimony of Csr. Rosenberg: he "said that another defendant Jack Boultbee said he had not read a non-competition agreement. Mr. Boultbee was among those who received payments as part of that agreement."

An article by Mary Vallis, webbed by the National Post, reports that Judge St. Eve has ruled on the motion filed by the defense regarding the admissibility of the Hollinger Int'l tapes and transcripts. Her desision was, "jurors will not hear or read comments from an irate shareholder of Hollinger International Inc. who had referred to Conrad Black as a 'liar.'... 'I don't think there is any value in anything he says,' Judge St. Eve said." In addition to containing details on that irate shareholder's comments, along with Conrad Black's response to him, it also identifies the lawyer who filed the motion: Michael Schachter, counsel for Peter Atkinson.

Another update of that CP report, by Romina Maurino and webbed by 680 News, has additional details on Mr. Healy's testimony. It begins with: "Hollinger International shareholders thought Conrad Black's use of a $3-million Park Avenue apartment in New York was 'excessive,' and questioned his use of perks, the company's former head of investor relations said Monday." He also testified that he had received shareholder complaints since beginning his job there in 1995. Mr. Healy also suggested that Mr. Black overpaid for the renovations to the Manhattan apartment mentioned in the indictment, and that the latter only paid for them in the first place because of shareholder pressure. He "also said he was testifying under a court order of immunity, meaning he was being compelled to testify and that 'so long as I tell the truth, nothing can be used against me in a criminal case.'"

More information about Mr. Healy's testimony has been added by the Reuters report, written by Andrew Stern. It relates that Mr. Black decided to purchase the smaller, ground-floor apartment himself, but had the company pay $1.4 million for renovations because it was to be used for corporate purposes. Mr. Healy did stipulate that "company officers as well as Black's friends stayed there." He also claimed that later, at his "urging, Black agreed to buy the larger upstairs apartment in 2000 -- but only at its $3 million cost and not fair market value as had been agreed upon in an contract giving him the option.

"'I told him I was delighted he was buying the apartment,' Healy said, adding he expected Black would pay the prevailing price given the soaring New York real estate market.

"But Black responded, 'rather emphatically, "No, it's cost,"' Healy recounted."

A brief AP summary report, webbed by, touches upon the above items. It starts with: "Hollinger International insider testified today in Conrad Black's fraud trial that the media mogul lived rent free for years in a three million dollar apartment on New York's Park Avenue."

(CORRECTION NOTICE: An earlier version of this post had the wrong lawyer's name as the cross-examiner, for Mark Kipnis, of Jonathan Rosenberg. Apologies to anyone who was misled.)


Speaking of Mr. Steyn, he makes an important point in an entry posted Sunday in his Maclean's trial blog, about Paul Healy. Mr. Healy arranged all of those 'corporate party' expenditures of Hollinger International that are now under a cloud, and also this one where Mr. Steyn himself was present: "Mr Healy is a curious chap to find donning the garb of corporate governance crusader. The first time I met him was at a dinner for The New Criterion, a fine publication but not exactly awash in the folding stuff. Paul was a supporter of the magazine and for this event had arranged for Hollinger International to provide the car service. Very nice of him, but hard to see what benefit it was to Hollinger shareholders." The rest of the entry pegs Mr. Healy as a best friend of the fellow who's helping him. [A more recent post of his mentions "a 60th birthday bash (for the Kenyon Review, out of Mr. Healey's old alma mater), paid for by both his patrons - Richard Breeden and what's left of Hollinger. No doubt, unlike Barbara's 60th, the Kenyon do was excellent value for Hollinger shareholders."]

(I go out of my way to highlight these items because I agree with Mr. Steyn that Paul Healy is an "interesting witness," but not perhaps for the reason that Mr. Steyn thinks so. Mr. Healy was knee-deep in this dubious disbursement, and he was also a Hollinger Int'l executive at the time. His own dual-use dispensement of corporate money, mentioned above, hints that too wide a swath has been cut for corporate crime in general. Overloading a horse makes it walk and act like an ass.

(More to the point: too broad a swath not only amounts to requiring prosecutors to pick spots while enforcing a law, which is easy to interpret as "playing favorites," but also inculcates a taint even in the good guys' records, which leads to the law itself being disrespected.)

Finally, Steve Skurka of "The Crime Sheet" has a real vignette from his clerking days: the judge he clerked for was none other than the same judge who sentenced Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones to give a benefit concert in exchange for pleading guilty to heroin possession. Like Mr. Worthington (and Mark Steyn), Csr. Skurka is of the opinion that Conrad Black is taking a real risk with his interviews to the media; the end of the post has a synthetic cross-examination of Mr. Black, which ends with him commencing to write "'Musings from the inside: my life in prison with Skilling and Ebbers.'”