Sunday, July 25, 2010

Waiting for Conrad



There were two cases before Conrad Black took the floor at the district court in Chicago on Thursday. The first was Barry Ware, who'd been convicted of drug offences and who was sentenced to twelve years. The second was a detention hearing for two guys whose counsel seemed a bit unsure of themselves, and who you had to hope were court-appointed.

I'd arrived at 7am, as the clerk had told me the day before to get there early if I wanted to get a seat in the court for Black's status hearing. As it turned out, he wasn't due in court until 12.30. So me and anoter intern and a large part of Barry Ware's extended family were the only ones present for the majority of the morning.

Conrad Black and the media pack finally swept in with their blackberrys and posh aftershave at 12. One of Black's team of not-quite-heavies had suggested to Stephanie (intern) and I that we should go and wait in the queue for the seats with the journalists, but we told him we'd been there since seven, at which point he seemed to realize we were just geeks and let us off. He also gave te press a lecture about not filming or broadcasting from the courtroom in any way, which I assumed meant he was federal staff. It wasn't until I later saw him pushing photographers off Black's car that I realized which side he was on.

The hearing itself was brief. Black's team again pushed for him to be allowed to go back to Canada, this time on the grounds of his wife's health. The judge, Amy St. Eve, refused (again), repeating that she still did not have a thorough enough financial affidavit. Conrad Black agreed to the terms of his bond, said surety would have to come from his friend Roger Hertog as he couldn't afford it himself (hmm) and then they all rushed back out.

I'd been sat next to a guy who used to be a Chicago DA, but who now does TV slots for a Canadian channel. He got me and the oter intern into thepress section downstairs in the lobby. About fifty journalists were hoping for a few words of wisdom/apology etc from the man himself, but in the event he went straight for the doors and his own car. The doors of the building are revolving, which is an obstacle to a cameraman attached to a soundman. We also saw one crew wrap themselves around a pillar outside, with the presenter trying to get his mic into the middle of the scrum.

Anyway, I got one photo, then they were gone, so I went to get a burger.

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