Conrad Black’s lawyers barred a string of potential jurors who showed distaste for super-high executive salaries as a Chicago court selected the jury that will try the former Daily Telegraph proprietor for an alleged $84m (£43m) fraud.
The fallen media baron emerged from court last night expressing confidence in the jury of 12 and a “reserve list” of eight that was decided after seven hours of courtroom haggling. His attorney, Edward Genson, also came out smiling, telling reporters: “You can say that I was observed to be happy.”
Both sides knew the make-up of the jury could be pivotal in determining whether Lord Black spends the rest of his life in jail, or is exonerated on charges that he looted his newspaper company, Hollinger International, to fund an extravagant lifestyle.
Addressing a French-speaking Canadian journalist outside the federal courthouse, Lord Black said: “J’ai toute confiance.” When an English-speaking Canadian asked him to repeat it in English, he showed a flash of his famous arrogance, shooting back, “Demandes lui de traduire” (“Ask her to translate”), before climbing into a white SUV with his wife and daughter. The family have said they are planning to jet to their beach-front mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, for the weekends during the trial, which is expected to last four months.
Black had listened intently and often consulted notes or talked with his attorneys as the Judge, Amy St Eve, questioned a parade of potential jurors from an initial pool of more than 100.