Black Trial Delayed by Juror Problem

The Associated Press
Monday, March 19, 2007; 12:11 PM

CHICAGO -- The start of fallen media tycoon Conrad M. Black's racketeering and fraud trial was delayed Monday by a juror problem.

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve had planned to swear in the jury and start Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Cramer's opening statement at 9 a.m. Central time, but she postponed action after hitting a snag over a juror.

After questioning jurors in her chambers, she postponed the start of the trial until Monday afternoon.

Black, 62, and three former executives of the Hollinger International newspaper holding empire he once ran are on trial in U.S. District Court.

Black is charged with swindling Hollinger out of $84 million through a series of asset sales in which he pocketed payments from the buyers.

The former press lord and his co-defendants have firmly denied that anything they did was against the law.

The government's star witness, David Radler, the former No. 2 man at Hollinger under Black, reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday and with his former employer on Sunday.

Black defense attorney Edward M. Genson urged St. Eve on Monday to question the jurors on whether they had read anything about the settlements. St. Eve spoke with the jurors in her chambers about that.

It apparently was while questioning the jurors in her chambers that an unspecified problem came up, causing the judge to announce a delay.

Lawyers were vague about exactly what the juror problem was.

After Cramer delivers the opening statement for the government, Genson is due to deliver an opening statement on behalf of Black.

Hollinger International at one time owned the Chicago Sun-Times, the Toronto-based National Post, the Daily Telegraph of London and the Jerusalem Post as well as hundreds of community papers in the United States and Canada.

All of the large papers except the Sun-Times have been sold and the name of the company has been changed to Sun-Times Media Group Inc.

© 2007 The Associated Press