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Black Watch: Sluts and Bartenders

By Matt Wood in News on Mar 21, 2007 2:56PM

chicagoist_2007_blackwatch.jpgLawyers offered opening statements in the Conrad Black trial yesterday, and they did not disappoint. Fresh off the day when Black's wife, Barbara Amiel, called a Canadian TV producer a slut in the elevator at the federal building, the attorneys provided their own colorful descriptions of Lord Black and his cronies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Cramer (hang on to that job, dude) said Black was a villain, thief, and a liar, giving a blow by blow account of his alleged misdeeds while calling the government's star witness, Black's former right-hand man David Radler a liar as well. Radler cut a deal with the prosecution in return for his testimony.

It appeared that Cramer was on his game, but Black's attorney, Edward Genson, outdid himself. One of the main charges against Black is that he and his fellow defendants took massive payoffs in the form of "non-compete agreements," in which they agreed not to compete with companies that bought hundreds of U.S. and Canadian newspapers from Hollinger. Genson, who also represents R. Kelly, compared Black to "Sam the Bartender," a fictional booze slinger whom owners of his bar would pay whatever it takes to keep him from opening a bar down the street and taking his loyal customers with him. He kept up the populist schtick, trying to relate to the ignorant plebeians in the jury, poking fun at Black's body language and saying he'd teach his client to sit up straight in his chair.

The Sun-Times' Mark Brown had a front row seat yesterday for all these shenanigans, and writes that Genson is good enough to plant a seed of doubt even in his biased mind. He says all he really wants is for this trial to be over quickly and for Conrad Black to be a part of his paper's past for good. But what fun would that be? Slut.