In Tilted, an insightful play-by-play account of one of the more notorious corporate trials of the past few decades, Toronto lawyer and legal pundit Steven Skurka argues that Conrad Black got a raw deal, thus bringing a refreshing Canadian perspective to the issue of prosecutorial misconduct.
Skurka’s book includes all the major players, the celebrity witnesses, the e-mails, and the comical exchanges behind the scenes. He writes with an accessible style that blends legal expertise with insightful anecdotes that serve to illustrate to the Canadian reader what made this courtroom experience so overwhelming to Black’s lead defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan (who blurbs Skurka’s book).
A book such as this underscores the importance of separating prejudices from evidence. Prosecutors are not necessarily the “good guys” they are conventionally portrayed as on TV. Likewise, the rich, articulate CEO defendants with expensive legal teams are not necessarily akin to Enron or Global Crossing. Whether you like Conrad Black or despise him, it would appear that the prosecution in his trial used vilification tactics, such as guilt by association, to convict him.
I did find myself disagreeing with Skurka and Greenspan over the assertion that the Canadian system of justice is less corrupt, more transparent, or more fair, than its American counterpart. Indeed, this book reinforces the enduring democratic principle that our civil liberties can only be preserved through open scrutiny of our patriotic prejudices.
However, Tilted does an outstanding job in describing this sinister world of court justice in Chicago, and it challenges the reader to ponder, without prejudice, whether certain parties may have abused the system to steal Conrad Black’s company out from under him, and whether this represents a dangerous precedent.