Timing, as they say, is everything. Just as Judge Amy St. Eve of the United States District Court in Chicago was taking the bench to sentence press baron Conrad Black on mail fraud and obstruction of justice convictions, Supreme Court justices were issuing a 7-2 ruling that enhances the power of federal judges to use their discretion in sentencing. Judge St. Eve settled on 78 months in prison and will require Black to forfeit $6.1 million. — Karen Donovan, Portfolio

Black got what he deserved. Conrad Black’s jail sentence of six-and-a-half years will undoubtedly shock the people who wrote to the judge on his behalf. The great and the good do tend to believe they can achieve whatever they please, despite the rules. It is, of course, exactly what Black himself thought too … If Conrad decides to spend his years in jail writing a book, I’d guess it would be called, How to lose friends and antagonise people. In continuing to plead his innocence, despite the overwhelming evidence against him, he has moved from a state of denial to a state of hysteria. The truth, which Black’s bluster cannot conceal, is that he used a public company, Hollinger International, as if it were his private fiefdom. That, in a nutshell, is the single reason he has been convicted. Yet it is the salient fact he refuses to accept. — Roy Greenslade, Guardian blog

Black got off lightly, part 1: All things considered, it could have gone a lot worse. A prosecution panting for Black to die in jail has to settle for six years in a low-security facility near the Florida home that the defendant will not be surrendering to the government … Furthermore, despite the government’s demand that he abase himself before the court, Conrad did not. He regretted the health impact on his family and the almighty incompetence of the usurper regime at Hollinger, and left it at that. And the judge didn’t punish him for it. Conrad was allowed to remain Conrad, and was not obliged to prostrate himself. Given that, it was as good as could be expected. — Mark Steyn, Macleans blog

Black got off lightly, part 2: The sentence is pretty lenient, especially considering that Black, whose Hollinger International company owned more than 100 newspapers, including the New York Sun, was less than endearing during the course of his trial. He referred to the charges that he had used the company to fund such luxuries as trips to Bora Bora and 100 pairs of Manolo Blahniks for his wife, among other things, as “rubbish” and “bullshit” and called his prosecutors “Nazis” and “pygmies.” — Daily Intelligencer

Nobbled but still Noble. Having had some time to reflect on what he’s done, money siphoner Conrad Black is still fully convinced that he was well within his right to scr-w Hollinger International shareholders by pilfering over $7 million of company funds to spend entirely on himself. Why? Because, in the self-righteous words of Black himself, “‘I will not re-enact the French Revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility.” Hear, hear! — Jossip

Law Blog Conrad Black Amazon Rankings Watch: We’ve always been fascinated by Black’s double life as a serious biographer. As we’ve told you before, Black has written a well-reviewed biography of FDR and another of Richard Nixon, which was published last month. The 1,280-page “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom” ranks 155,677 while “Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full,” ranks 10,477; Meanwhile, Tom Bower’s “Outrageous Fortune: The Rise and Ruin of Conrad and Lady Black,” ranks 35,352. — WSJ Law blog

And some snippets from the old media:

Black’s Farewell Tour. He may soon have to adjust to prison cooking, but Conrad Black, the disgraced former press baron, has been dining in style during a “goodbye tour” of friends in Palm Beach, where he has been awaiting his sentencing by a Chicago court tomorrow on charges of fraud and obstruction of justice. Black was spotted last weekend with his wife Barbara Amiel and four other people at Chez Jean-Pierre, the best French restaurant in one of the most opulent resorts in America. Tony Allen-Mills, The Times

Black toasts good friends. At a table for tw0o, tucked in a corner of the five-star restaurant Café Boulud, Conrad Black lifted and studied a glass of chilled white burgundy, a 2005 Denogent Pouilly-Fuissé to be precise. “Welcome to the playground of the rich,” Black said, arching an eyebrow and taking a sip, in what amounted to an ironic toast … in one of his dwindling nights of freedom, Black spent an evening last week with the Star at Café Boulud, a restaurant started by New York celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. There was none of the simmering tension you might expect from a 63-year-old man facing years behind a double barbed wire fence. Instead, Black … said he’s emboldened by the support he’s received from stalwart friends and everyday Canadians. — Rick Westhead, Toronto Star 

Big fish in deep water. The popular perception of prisoners clad in orange jumpsuits is something of a misnomer – in most federal prisons, inmates wear khaki-coloured trousers and a shirt. They are required to work, typically earning between 12 cents and 40 cents an hour. Jobs include preparing food, plumbing, cleaning, warehousing or – for a select few – shelving books in the prison library. Ross, who is co-author of a guide called “Behind Bars: Surviving Prison”, said the first few weeks were crucial: “You either know [the inmates’ code] and understand it intuitively or you learn it through trial and error – which is a very painful process indeed.” Aged 63, Black will be an oddity in a prison system with an average age of 38. — Andrew Clark, The Guardian

Judging Black’s character. The sentencing hearing lasted for nearly two-and-a-half hours, as Mr. Black’s defense team cited letters testifying to Mr. Black’s character from dignitaries like Elton John, whose AIDS foundation received a donation from Mr. Black, and the political columnist George F. Will, a longtime friend who wrote “he loves this country with a deeply informed passion.” Mr. Black’s sentencing consultant, Jeffrey Steinbach, even mentioned a letter from a man, not famous, who was once drunk at a party and got a ride home from Mr. Black. When Eric Sussman, the prosecutor, responded, he noted that the donation to Elton John’s foundation came from the coffers of The Daily Telegraph. — Tim Arango, New York Times

Black scalp claims other victims. We sympathize with the plight of Peter Atkinson, convicted along with Conrad Black and two other executives of the disintegrating Hollinger empire in a Chicago court earlier this year … From long experience, we know Atkinson to be a likable, self-effacing man for whom imprisonment is a harsh fate. But longtime Hollinger lawyer Atkinson was an enabler of Hollinger’s shenanigans who could have quit and forsaken the comfortable lifestyle they afforded him. He was also the messenger boy for most of Black’s countless libel writs. — David Olive, Toronto Star

Some memorable quotes from and about the Conrad Black fraud trial. “Newman’s prediction that I am gone for life, to be buggered by American criminals, will not come to pass. If you and Newman imagine that this case is over and that I will not be heard from again, whatever happens, you are mistaken.” – Black in an e-mail to the Toronto Star last month, reacting to the 79-year-old Newman’s barbs against him. — The Canadian Press