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Monday, March 19, 2007

A Fair Trial?

I'm wondering if Conrad Black, who is on trial in Chicago, can actually get a fair trial.

For those who don't know, Black was in charge of Hollinger International, which owned newspapers in the US, Britain, Israel and Canada. According to the SEC and others, he and some other members of the board defrauded shareholders out of about $50 million bucks.

You see, I don't think that it's possible for someone of Black's wealth to get an "impartial jury", as the 6th Amendment calls for, unless you can find a dozen CEO's, and CFO's who can take six weeks off work to sit in the court room. Most of us equate the 6th's jury clause to mean a 'jury of our peers' ( person who has equal standing with another or others, as in rank, class, or age) but who, using that definition are his peers? Not stay at home moms, construction workers, and retired cops, that's for sure.

It's already known that the prosecution in the case, while they'll present evidence of the alleged wrongdoing, is planning on concentrating on Black's lifestyle as much as possible crimes in the case. In other words try and get that retired guy on a pension to see Black as evil because he has money.... More than the retiree will ever see.

The judge has already told every juror that working around the tax code and accumulating wealth ISN'T a crime, knowing what the prosecution is planning on doing. She even took the odd step of handling jury questioning on her own, rare in most cases, to try and make sure that they understood the above.

The truth is, though, even with my income which when combined with the wife's has reached six figures, I can't imagine $50 million. I'm not sure I could avoid holding a grudge against a guy who can afford to buy enough tax attorneys to not pay taxes, while I'm still paying off the last couple of years mistakes.

But just because someone got rich doesn't make him a crook, and I'm not sure Mr. Black is going to get a jury that believes that here in Chicago.

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