“The U.S. Supreme Court made it more difficult for prosecutors to secure stiff fines for corporate wrongdoing,” Business Week states, “ruling that jurors must play a greater role in determining how large criminal penalties can be.” The justices voted 6-3 to set aside a $6 million fine and $12 million in community service obligations imposed on Southern Union Co. for illegally storing liquid mercury. The court decreed that a judge could not constitutionally impose a fine that size without a jury determining the length of time the mercury was stored. “The ruling may have broad implications for corporate prosecutions,” Business Week notes, “complicating trials and giving defendants more leverage in plea negotiations.” Attorney Carter Phillips represented Southern Union in the case. He notes, “For corporations, it’s huge because the only way they can be punished is through fines.”
Corporations win criminal-fine limits in top court ruling
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that jurors must have a greater role in determining how large criminal penalties can be.
June 22, 2012