Conrad Black Trial - Obstruction of Justice Charge

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13 Boxes and Obstruction of Justice

June 1, 2007. Before resting their case on May 30, the prosecution showed jurors security camera images from May 20, 2005, of Black, his loyal assistant Joan Maida, and chauffeur John Hiller removing thirteen document boxes from Hollinger Inc.'s landmark Toronto office on 10 Toronto Street, a small, elegant downtown building with a paved courtyard and iron railings.

The boxes have been sitting in the Chicago courtroom for weeks.

Black, assistant Joan Maida and chauffeur John Hillier removing boxes from Hollinger Inc.

Conrad Black (right), assistant Joan Maida (centre) and chauffeur John Hillier (left - looking up at the camera) removing boxes from Hollinger Inc.

Black, points at the security camera when the boxes were being removed

Conrad Black points to the security camera while removing boxes from Hollinger Inc.

Conrad Black removing boxes from Hollinger Inc. to his car

A frame from the security camera as Conrad Black removes boxes from Hollinger Inc. to his car waiting outside.

Another frame from a security camera showing Conrad Black and his chauffeur loading the boxes into his black Cadillac

In May 2005, Black had been removed from control of Hollinger Inc.. His empire and all its trappings had been crumbling around. He no longer had use of his Rolls Royce Silver Wraith which was encumbered with unpaid repair bills.

While Black was under a court order not to remove property from Hollinger Inc., he said the boxes contained private property which he removed as he had been asked to vacate the building by the end of the month.

Black personally removed the boxes roughly three hours after security had prevented assistant Joan Maida from removing five boxes. A security guard who saw Black loading his limousine with the boxes at 5:11 p.m., but didn't stop him from doing so, was dismissed. The removal of the boxes resulted in an obstruction of justice charge against Conrad Black.

After the jury had retired for the day on Wednesday, May 30, 2007, attorney Marc Martin of Black's defence team, asked the judge St. Eve to throw out the obstruction of justice charge saying "We don't know what Mr. Black's intention was."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Sussman responded by saying "We will probably never know what Mr. Black took - we do know what Mr. Black returned."

The judge asked both sides to submit briefs with expanded arguments by June 5, 2007.

Defence Launched with the 13 Boxes in Focus

On Thursday, May 31, 2007, Black's lawyers launched their defence of the media mogul by picking up on Wednesday's discussion on the 13 document boxes that the prosecution alleges Black removed illegally.

The defence called Joan Maida, Black's loyal and long-time personal assistant, to the witness stand. Maida testified that she suggested the boxes be removed. "There was no direction from Conrad?" asked Black lawyer Ed Genson. "None," replied Maida.

Under cross-examination, she said she knew that she needed permission to remove the boxes, but that she didn't know that court-appointed inspectors were the only people who could give her permission. She said that she received permission from a Hollinger director to take the boxes to her home office.

In recounting the events on May 20, 2005, Maida said when Black learned that a security guard had prevented her from removing the boxes, Black was visibly irritated and asked her to take him to the files.

Black, accompanied by his driver then proceeded to remove the boxes.

Later, after receiving a court order, Black returned the boxes.