LAWFUEL – Lead Story – Canadian law firm Torys may have suffered a mauling during the trial of client Conrad Black, but for a firm estimated to have generated $275 million last year, it remains one of Canada’s legal powerhouses.
The few spectators who have found their way to the 12th floor courtroom in Chicago where Conrad Black’s fraud trial is underway have witnessed a startling sight in recent days: a lawyer from a heavyweight Canadian legal firm accused of lying.
Darren Sukonick, a 37-year-old partner at Torys LLP who testified that he billed Hollinger for as many as 17 hours of work a day during 2001, has been assailed by defence lawyers over his recommendation that Hollinger International Inc. need not tell shareholders about non-competition payments made to company executives.
It’s been an uncomfortable few days for Torys. And there’s more to come.
Sukonick’s testimony has been far from riveting. Dressed in dark suits and white shirts, the Torys lawyer has only appeared at the trial on video screens marked with a time stamp. He spoke to lawyers in late January this year over at least three days.
Many objections have already been edited out of Sukonick’s testimony, so some frames in the 14 hours of videotape are jumpy. Some jury members have been noticeably disinterested in his testimony and one prosecution lawyer has repeatedly yawned throughout.
Further video of Sukonick is to be played Monday, and will be followed by even more taped testimony from Beth DeMerchant, a one-time Torys partner who quit the firm because of the Hollinger debacle.