Your correspondent thinks he’s got the hang of this Black trial already. I have come to the conclusion the US Reservoir Dogs prosecution team want pay-back for the Boston tea-party and the Black Baron (BB) will pay the price. BB is a foreign devil, be he English or Cannuck. Judge Amy asked each and every prospective juror yesterday if they had any prejudices against “millionaires”, “lords” or “Canadians”. Hang about? Isn’t this the race card, the class card and the politics of envy all rolled into one?
Yesterday in Courtroom 1241. There’s some conjecture about the colour of the tie around the Black Baron’s neck. The guy who told me said it was definitely grey check. The guy standing next to him swears it was mauve. You be the judge. What’s for sure is two things: 1) Good old BB won’t be slipping in through the side door tomorrow. The snappers won’t get fooled again. They’ll all be at the side door tomorrow. BB will cruise though the front door, unimpeded, before sparrow’s fart. Fellas. We’re going to have to sit down and sort this out. Front door, Monday and Wednesday. Side door, Tuesday and Thursday. 2) BB will not be returning to his home in Toronto tonight because every time he re-enters the US he’s treated as a suspected criminal (well, he is, isn’t he?) and grilled for hours by immigration officials. So, BB and the Femme Fatale (FF) have some serious accommodation issues to sort out.
What did they wear? Day 1: FF wore a fetching brown-pinstripe suit, red-silk blouse and long-silver necklace. BB a grey suit. Alana wore swaddling clothes.
The Black Baron as a work in progress. The BB is no Wacko Jacko or Martha Stewart but he can sure pull a crowd – even in a country that hasn’t a clue who he is. BB’s defence lawyer, Edward Greenspan said the other day: “I’m getting ready for a jury trial . . . This is not a popularity contest. It’s a serious criminal trial.” But we beg to differ.
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Yesterday’s session in Chicago began at 9.30 am, but the media started gathering outside the 12th-floor courtroom at 7.30 am to be sure of a seat. First come get the limited seats. No TV or cameras are allowed in the building, except on the ground floor and providing they have a pass. Otherwise they’re relegated to the street, like the homeless.
Black arrived at about 8.30 am, accompanied by wife Barbara Amiel and his daughter Alana from his previous marriage. The family looked solemn but composed – and just a little bit helpless.
Judge Amy St. Eve is only 41, petite but dynamic, and there’s no question who dominates her court. Unlike Canadian judges, St. Eve tends to bounce around, sometimes standing and stretching, sometimes taking a swig from a two-quart plastic bottle of water. No nonsense like a glass and pitcher of water.
Almost overlooked in the fuss about Lord Black are the three former Hollinger execs also on trial — Peter Atkinson, Jack Boultbee and Mark Kipnis. In all, 15 lawyers represent the accused versus four US prosecutors headed by Erik Sussman.
What’s amazing, if you think about it, is how a functioning chief executive who dominates and impresses people is reduced and diminished the instant he appears in court as a defendant.
While Black looked drawn and somewhat worn, he alone maintained a presence, sailing through the media mob on the 12th floor – nodding, occasionally shaking hands, unsubdued and not the least abashed. Nothing cocky or condescending, mind you, but showing the flag.