Conrad Black’s fraud trial enters some of its most crucial days this week as defence lawyers attempt to convince jurors that star prosecution witness David Radler was the only one responsible for diverting millions of dollars away from the company’s shareholders.
“There has to be a knock-out punch with Radler very quickly on Monday,” said Hugh Totten, a lawyer with the Chicago firm Perkins Coie.
“The other defendants cannot spend too much time with him. The jury’s heard enough of David Radler by Monday and everybody’s going to want him to get off the stand.”
Radler has already spent four days on the witness stand at the fraud and racketeering trial under a plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors.
He has directly implicated Black in a plan prosecutors say allowed the former press baron and three other former Hollinger executives to take tens of millions of dollars from deals that should have gone to shareholders.
Black was the mastermind behind the scheme, Radler said, and he just went along with the plan.
Defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan has chipped away at Radler’s credibility, saying he’s an admitted liar whose testimony cannot be trusted. But, observers said, Greenspan has yet to convince the jury that Black wasn’t involved in anything criminal.
Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, said defence lawyers run the risk of making the jury feel bad for Radler if they continue their aggressive attack on his credibility.
He says there’s also a risk that the jury will say “OK, he’s a liar, but show us how Black wasn’t involved in this deal and Black didn’t pull the strings.”