Thursday, June 28, 2007

Conrad's Convictions

Conrad Black awaits the jury’s verdict in his criminal trial in Chicago. Chances are that he won’t be found guilty on the charges related to the non-compete clauses he and his partners profited from. But some of the following less publicized charges may yet result in a conviction:

chronic pretentiousness
In a state known for its down-to-earth, straight-shooting residents, it’s not surprising that Lord Black has been charged with this offense. Under Section 6.66 of the Illinois Criminal Code, a person may be charged with repeated and willful pretentiousness. Black’s British title together with his predilection for polysyllabic rambling makes a conviction likely.

spousal association
A little known Illinois provision allows a man to be indicted if his spouse is an offensive, publicity-seeking harridan. Although the jury is still out on Barbara Amiel, it seems likely that they won’t take long to convict Mr. Black on this charge. His only hope is that he can sway some of the jurors to cast a sympathy vote.

just because
This seldom-used charge is a variation of the tort-related doctrine "res ipsa loquitur" or, in other words, "the thing speaks for itself." When a jury senses that a wealthy person ought to be found guilty, this provision allows them to do so. Derived from the common law offense of "being rich", "just because" requires proof of an added degree of arrogance which trial observers indicate should not be an impediment in this case.

pompous pontification
Just as Al Capone was eventually convicted on the secondary charge of income tax evasion, Lord Black may avoid a finding of guilty for his alleged corporate crimes but end up doing time for an unrelated innocuous charge. Illinois criminal law makes it an indictable offense to lord one’s status and vocabulary over others. Given Black’s obvious contempt for just about everyone and his penchant for turning out dull, thousand-page biographies, he may be facing the maximum sentence on this particular count.

being Black
Many African-Americans are familiar with the offense of DWB or "driving while black." This is a very specific white variation on that charge. Simply being Conrad Black begs for a conviction for something and, failing all other options, this provision allows for that possibility.

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