During a cross-examination, for example, there are moments when you are flying high and moments when a witness digs in, fights back hard, feels himself on surer ground. Such was the case when I cross-examined Conrad's partner, David Radler, who had cut a deal and was the heart of the prosecution case going in.
Conrad suggests that on my first day of cross-examining Mr. Radler, I was slow, belaboured my points, and appeared weak and off my game. He suggests that this was for medical reasons. It wasn't. There's a simpler reason: Mr. Radler beat me that day. It happens. I've been beaten at stages of a cross-examination by worse men than David Radler. However, the ultimate test of a cross-examination is the end result. When I began to shatter Mr. Radler's evidence later, it was by using his errors and inconsistencies from earlier testimony, when overconfidence and carelessness emerged as he thought he was winning.
In the book, Conrad has an amusing tendency to exalt my performances in court and in pretrial processes, then spin around and attack me with the venom he uses for his adversaries. I am reported to be both a ponderous water buffalo, and nimble as a cougar in destroying witnesses. I'm also a crocodile. I may yet audition for The Lion King.
When it comes to Mr. Radler, this key witness was ultimately so completely erased by cross-examination, in Conrad's description, as to become a non-issue. Mr. Radler, whom Conrad describes as the “rat” (to my water buffalo-cougar-crocodile hybrid), was dismantled to the point where, he writes, the cocksure prosecutors, earlier described as so much younger and more nimble than his own slow, past-it, lawyers, hung their heads like “chastened schoolchildren” and avoided meeting the jurors' eyes.
At trial's end, the prosecutor, in her closing, suggested that the jury should simply ignore Mr. Radler's evidence. It is difficult for a defence lawyer to do better than that. Had the jury believed Mr. Radler, Conrad would have been convicted of every charge and would have spent the rest of his life in prison.
Conrad wrote in his book, “Radler was smeared over the floor and walls.” Flattering as this is, I'm really not that violent.
He wrote elsewhere that I destroyed Marie-Josée Kravis of the Hollinger board, to the point of making her look contemptible. As for former Illinois governor Jim Thompson, also on the Hollinger board, testifying against Conrad, I apparently “tore him limb from limb” and “dragged him like an un-housetrained dog to the site of his many incontinences.”
Despite all this, Conrad still suggests that I was deficient for “health reasons” in conducting his defence. I do take insulin for diabetes. I can, if not careful, end up with low blood sugar, a reaction familiar to every diabetic, whether they go to school, raise children, play hockey, perform surgery, practise law or write for newspapers.
If Conrad Black wants all diabetics excluded from gainful employment, there's a larger issue to discuss than we have space for here.
My health is fine. I had the same health when I cross-examined all the witnesses in this trial.
Eddie Genson and I both saw this trial for what it was – the destruction of the Hollinger audit committee and the turncoat David Radler. Beat them and – in any fair setting – we win.
The trial took place in 2007, in a climate of media frenzy, post-Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, where convictions for corporate fraud were almost a forgone conclusion. Yet at the end, Conrad wrote that he “won nine of the counts and lost four.” He added that a report by a committee at Hollinger International accusing him of heading a “$500-million kleptocracy, all of this had gone over the side.”
He writes, “I won three-quarters of the charges the government started with and 90 per cent in terms of potential financial downside.”
So, on the one hand, he sees his “victory” against ferocious overreaching by the American system, and yet he is lashing out at not just his enemies, but his friends and advocates. Others must suffer. Everybody pays.
In the trial, it was clear that a relatively new, overarching concept, referred to as “honest services,” had been the problem. That's why he was convicted. Many courts in the United States would not have even put the “honest services” statute to the jury, but Illinois did. (The law in America was subsequently changed as a result of this case.)