Vindication for Conrad Black Defendant
- Client: Mark S. Kipnis
- Date: December 2007 - January 2011
- Location: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Schiff Hardin played a lead role in the case popularly known as the "Conrad Black" trial, as lead counsel for Mark Kipnis, a co-defendant of Black's and former general counsel of media conglomerate Hollinger International, Inc. The defendants were acquitted of the vast majority of counts at trial, and in a decision handed down on June 24, 2010, the United States Supreme Court vacated convictions based on any counts related to the "honest services fraud" component of the federal mail fraud statute. This holding effectively eliminated the counts against Mr. Kipnis that were not dismissed by the trial judge. On October 29, 2010 United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's decision overturned the criminal conviction of Mr. Kipnis and sent the case back to the trial court. Finally, on January 13, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's office announced that it would dismiss with prejudice the sole remaining charges against Mr. Kipnis. His record has been restored. He is convicted of nothing. He is charged with nothing. History
At trial in 2007 and 2008, this case garnered national and international notoriety, and the favorable outcome for our client, Mark S. Kipnis, was noted in the press worldwide. One story in particular spotlighted the Schiff Hardin team's success, calling lead attorney Ronald S. Safer "arguably the most effective defence lawyer during the whole trial." The piece continues:
"Safer's genius was to compare Kipnis to George Bailey in the Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life - you know, the hometown boy (played by Jimmy Stewart) who gave up his dream of traveling the world in order to do good work for friends and family, and who considered himself a failure, but who saved lives and the town from despair." - Toronto Sun, December 12, 2007
Mark Kipnis, the former general counsel of Hollinger International, Inc., was charged with participating in a fraud involving over $60 million. After a four-month federal trial, our team, led by the firm's managing partner Ron Safer and Patricia Brown Holmes, obtained an acquittal from the jury on eight of the eleven counts in which Mr. Kipnis was charged. The counts of conviction involved the three smallest transactions, less than 10% of the charged fraud's value. The judge acquitted Mr. Kipnis of yet another count, involving two of the transactions.
The government asked for a twelve-year sentence for the remaining two counts. Our team was able to persuade the court to impose a sentence of probation. Mr. Kipnis did not spend a single day in prison.
United States of America v. Conrad M. Black et al.