[JURIST] Defense counsel for Canadian-born media mogul Conrad Black [CBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Thursday submitted [docket] an application for bail [motion, PDF] pending appeal to Justice John Paul Stevens of the US Supreme Court [official website]. The application for bail follows the Supreme Court's recent grant of certiorari [JURIST report] in Black's case, appealing his fraud conviction. The appeal challenges the appellate court's interpretation of the "honest services" clause of 18 USC § 1346 [text], claiming that the clause does not apply where there is no finding that the defendant "reasonably contemplated identifiable economic harm" under mail and wire fraud law [18 USC § 1341 text]. Pursuant to 18 USC § 3143 [text], a defendant is entitled to bail if a judicial officer finds "by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community" if released, if the appeal raises a "substantial question of law or fact" that is likely to result in the defendant's favor and if the request is not for the purposes of delay. In the motion, Black's lawyers stipulate that:
There was no dispute in the district court or the court of appeals that Mr. Black is unlikely to flee, that he poses no danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released on conditions, and that he pursues his appeal for a legitimate reason and not for purposes of delay. The district court found in Mr. Blacks favor on each point, by court of appeals. Accordingly, the sole issue is whether Mr. Black has raise[d] a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in at least a new trial should he prevail on that question.Black's lawyers point out that co-petitioner John Boultbee was granted bail based on the same substantial question.
Black, former chairman of Hollinger International [NNDB profile], originally faced 17 counts of fraud, obstruction of justice, racketeering and tax evasion. He was accused [indictment, PDF] by the US government of diverting more than $80 million from the company and its shareholders [JURIST report] during Hollinger's $2.1 billion sale of several hundred Canadian newspapers. In 2007, Black was convicted [JURIST report] of mail fraud and obstruction of justice and sentenced [JURIST reports] to 78 months in prison. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] initially rejected Black's appeal, holding that § 1346 may be applied in a private setting [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] regardless of whether the defendant's conduct risked any foreseeable economic harm to the victim. The outcome of the Court's review may affect other high-profile corporate fraud cases [Toronto Star report] such as that involving Enron ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling [JURIST news archive].