United States v. Wise

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Herricks School District

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)

CITATION: 370 US 405 (1962)
ARGUED: Apr 16, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Wise

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1962 (Part 1) in United States v. Wise

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1962 (Part 2) in United States v. Wise

Earl Warren:

Mr. Chadwell you may continue your argument.

John T. Chadwell:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

I should like to continue a brief response to Your Honor's question if I may at the outset.

The Government's argument as to what Congress knew and didn't knew -- didn't know in 1955 when the fine in -- maximum fine with respect to Section 1 was increased to $50,000 and there was no increase in the fine in Section 14 is simply not borne out their contention.

Their simply not borne out by the record, by the reports or by the debates.

In our brief, we have summarized them and so as the Government, each as might be expected pointing out some different things but this underlying fact, I submit to the Court, is quite obvious from those debates and reports.

That is, that what Congress was concerned about was the inadequacy of the maximum fine of $5000 under the Sherman Act in view of the existence of large corporations and with large assets today.

That was the burden of the argument.

That was the point that was made.

And I submit to the Court that you can look at those debates from beginning to end in vain for a single statement anywhere that corporate officers were under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and therefore, it was unnecessary to raise the fines to them.

There was a reference by Attorney General Berkson in 1950, five years before the -- before the fines were raised in 1955, there was a reference by him as to the importance of Section 1 and expressing indifference as to whether the fines were raised under Section 14.

But he did not say why.

The reason behind the statement was not stated.

Individuals are mentioned from time to time in the debates, but obviously, individuals are mentioned in connection with -- with acts done by them in their individual capacity, not acts done by them in a representative capacity.

Now, in Hartford-Empire this Court has recognized that where an individual performs acts strictly in a representative capacity on behalf of their corporations.

Court recognized that they could be indicted under Section 14.

Also, the Court held in Hartford-Empire that where that was the case, an injunction should not run against the individuals personally, but only against the corporations and their officers, directors, and employees in general.

That was expressly held in Hartford-Empire, that recognition of the very real difference that exist between charging individual defendants with engaging in conspiracies on their own behalf, as the words were in Hartford-Empire, and where they perform acts strictly in a representative capacity on behalf of their corporation.

And I say to the Court, in connection with Mr. Justice Brennan's question of -- of Mr. Wright, that it's obvious and it always has been obvious in -- in -- in the history of the Sherman Act, that where any individual is indicted in a representative capacity, strictly for performing an act on behalf of this corporation which results in a corporate violation.

That obviously, he is not guilty unless the corporation is guilty, he couldn't be, he never has been, and the same thing is true under Section 14.

Now did I -- I perhaps have misunderstood Mr. Wright's statement, but I understood him to say at one time, that under Section 14, the corporation must be found guilty before an individual can be indicted.

I may be wrong about that, but the fact is that that is not necessary.

It's merely necessary that the act done by the individual should result in the corporation being in violation of the act, not that there is an -- that is -- it's necessary to be any finding of a violation by the corporation or a finding of guilt in the early stages of the Section 14 history.

There was a provision requiring of finding of guilt on behalf of the corporation, but that is out in the -- and has been out ever since Section 14 has been in effect.

I --

Potter Stewart:

As Section 14 is written, the jury would at least had to be instructed assuming there were jury that until they could not find the individuals guilty and -- and -- and until or unless they found a violation by the corporation --

John T. Chadwell:

Well, that's true.

Potter Stewart:

-- won't you agree?

John T. Chadwell:

But it would -- would -- Oh yes indeed sir --

Potter Stewart:

Whether or not the corporation or even a defendant would have (Voice Overlap) --