March 20, 2007. Chicago. News that Conrad Black's former partner David Radler, had agreed to a US$ 92.1 million settlement: US$28.7 million dollar as a fine to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and $63.4 million dollar as a settlement with former Hollinger International shareholders, delayed the start of Conrad Black's Trial. Black's lawyer, Ed Genson, asked Judge Amy St. Eve to delay opening arguments, arguing that publication of Radler's settlement over the weekend could have prejudiced the jury and therefore Black's right to a fair trial.
Black and three of his colleagues are on trial in a Chicago courtroom facing 17 criminal charges. The trial was expected to start Monday, March 19.
The Judge questioned jurors to see if they had read or heard about the developments regarding David Radler over the weekend and adjourned proceedings until Tuesday, March 20, 2007.
It is possible that Radler's admission of guilt and well as his settlements (which involve large, if not unprecedented amounts of money), will be used by the prosecution against Black. Black does not admit to any wrong-doing. The prosecution may also use Radler's contrition and penance to bolster Radler's credibility as their star witness against Black. There is a danger that the timing of these announcements can seem contrived even though the prosecution denies any previous knowledge of the settlements or their timing. If the prosecution overplays their hand, jury sympathy could swing in Black's favour.