In December, I wrote a column in this space called “Conrad Black and Saint-Just“, about the vendetta conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice against Conrad Black, former proprietor of the London Telegraph, The Spectator, and sundry other media properties. As I wrote at the time, Black’s case marked “not only a private tragedy but also a dangerous public judicial trend.”
Today, when Lord Black is required to report to a federal prison in Florida to begin serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence, we are reminded just how dangerous to liberty that judicial trend can be. Lord Black has appealed his sentence, but just last week the Court ruled that he must begin serving his sentence before the appeal is decided, even though allowed two co-defendants to remain at liberty pending their appeals.
Throughout these disgusting proceedings, Black has comported himself with extraordinary dignity (and astonishing good humor), pursuing a variety of important literary projects even as he battled to clear his name. Today, The New York Sun publishes “My Faith in American Justice,” Lord Black’s eloquent summary of the case the far and what it tells us about the state of the American judiciary. It says a lot about the character of this besieged man that, hours before his incarceration, he should conclude his piece with an affirmation of faith in American justice.
My faith in the United States has inspired me to persevere, despite what I believe has been the prosecution’s insufficient respect for the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment guarantees of due process, of the grand jury as an assurance against capricious prosecution, of no seizure of assets without just compensation, of speedy justice, access to counsel, and reasonable bail. I have been besieged by various agencies of the U.S. government for over four years, and I know of only one higher bond in U.S. history than the $38 million I have been posting.
Thoreau wrote: “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.” These charges and the actions leading up to them have been unjust. Most of them have already been found to be unjust. I cherish my liberty as all people do, but I am unafraid. I have faith in American justice.