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Federal appeals court grants Conrad Black bail request

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Monday granted a request for bail by Canadian-born media mogul Conrad Black [CBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The court granted bail following last month's ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] by the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] in Black v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder] which vacated the conviction of the former chairman and CEO of Hollinger International Inc. under the honest services doctrine. The Supreme Court instructed the circuit court to review the jury instructions given at trial concerning the "honest services" doctrine [18 USC § 1346 text]. Black's case was remanded to the court of appeals for further consideration consistent with the Supreme Court's June ruling [opinion, PDF] in Skilling v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the "honest services" doctrine is limited in scope to bribery and kickbacks. Black is to be released on bail while the court of appeals considers whether to overturn his 2007 conviction [JURIST report]. The terms of his bail will be set by a district court judge [Chicago Tribune report] and it is unclear when Black will be released. Black has been in federal custody for over two years.

Black 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 Hollinger International and its shareholders [JURIST report] during Hollinger's $2.1 billion sale of several hundred Canadian newspapers. In July 2007 Black was convicted of mail fraud and obstruction of justice and sentenced [JURIST report] to 78 months in prison. The court of appeals 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 Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] last year to determine the scope of the "honest services" clause. Black is also currently facing charges [docket] before the US Tax Court [official website] for failure to pay nearly $71 million in taxes [Bloomberg report]. He denies being obligated to pay the taxes because he is not a US citizen.

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