Patrick Fitzgerald seems to like going after big names with leaky cases. His office went after Conrad Black, the Canadian answer to Rupert Murdoch, on financial fraud grounds. Mark Steyn has been covering the trial. In typical Steyn fashion, his blog entry is entitled “The Plot Thinnens”. It sure does:

Non-compete fees to individuals aren’t illegal but, in fact, entirely routine. So the only “crime” would be if the Black cabal conspired to hide these non-competes from the scrutiny of the Hollinger Audit Committee.

Given that the Audit Committee’s signatures are on multiple documents disclosing the non-compete fees to the SEC, that’s already a hard case to make. But, even if you did, it’s arguably not material, given that the Audit Committee would almost certainly have approved the payments unanimously and without any discussion, as they did for the hundreds of millions in “management fees” they approved over the years.

The prosecution’s star witness is David Radler. He isn’t doing too well. Steyn, again:

For a man who spent his lifetime in publishing, David Radler has a surprisingly limited vocabulary, and one getting more limited every week. Pull up a previous statement of his, and he professes to have no knowledge of words and phrases he used a year or even a couple of days ago. Already in this trial, he has argued with defence counsel over the meanings of “right-hand man” and the word “review”. This morning, he claimed to have no knowledge of what was meant by the term “savvy buyer”, though he evidently seemed very comfortable with it in his first session with Federal prosecutors two and a half years ago.

The judge is growing weary of the witness’s obfuscation, all the more obvious and arrogant now that he’s facing the affable Gus Newman rather than the ferocious Eddie Greenspan.

“Mr. Radler, I’ve told you multiple times over several days,” she rebuked him, “please restrain yourself and answer the question.” It is a fascinatingly awful performance. Radler has treated this jury with contempt. They should do likewise with his “evidence”.

Luckily for Conrad Black, the trial is not in Washington D.C., the judge is competent, and the MSM has not been polluting the minds of the jurors with misinformation and outright lies.