SOCTUS on juries and criminal fines
Southern Union v. U.S., handed down today. After a jury trial, Southern Union was convicted of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the punishment for which includes a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation. The trial court found that it had been in violation for 762 days, making the max $38 million, and it imposed fines of $18 million. Southern Union argued that any fine over the one-day max was unconstitutional, since the jury had not been asked to find how many days of violation were involved. The Supreme Court agreed, 6-3. It's an unusual split: the majority includes Sotomayor, Scalia and Ginsburg, while the dissent is Breyer, Kennedy, and Alito.
The money handed down in lawsuits sometimes amazes me. I can see fines, but $50,000 a day, is that really justifiable?
Posted by: Sarah at June 22, 2012 06:19 AM
That Breyer would dissent does not surprise me. He is a reliable vote for the government in any case involving punishment.
Posted by: Veracitor at June 22, 2012 08:42 AM