which involved some of the defendants in the instant suit, among others, involving aspects of the road paving industry. It is not unreasonable to assume that the civil litigation curtailed any continuation of the alleged illegal criminal practices.
The court also must take into account the fact that the defendant corporation, H & M, Inc. was one of four of the major motopavers in the four county area covered by the indictment. Defendants Jack D. Murphy and William H. Quigley, Jr. are alleged to have instigated, acquiesced in and approved of the alleged activity respectively. The degree of possible culpability of the defendants coupled with other factors compels the court to reject the nolo plea.
The impact of the condemned conduct upon the economy is alleged to have been lack of competitive bidding on municipal motopaving projects. The government contends that competitive bids could have saved the municipalities $1.00 per ton on such projects. The government also indicated at the hearing that the interstate oil industry was affected by motopaving, the object of the conspiracy. The court concludes that the impact of the condemned conduct on the economy was not insubstantial.
The court also concludes that accepting a nolo plea in this case would not serve as a deterrent to antitrust activity. In order to deter antitrust activity and to enable effective enforcement of antitrust laws it is essential that more than token punitive measures are taken against offending parties. Even though the defendants would be subject to the same penalty as if they pled guilty, the per se nature of the alleged activities, the alleged degree of defendants' culpability and the harm caused to the public warrants more than a "slap on the wrist," which is often the public view of a nolo plea.
The court also believes that under the circumstances of this case it is not in the public interest to deprive civil claimants of the benefits of a conviction at trial or a guilty plea as prima facie evidence under § 5 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16. The pending class action civil suit against defendants is not the ordinary "private" civil litigation incident to a criminal antitrust suit. Since the municipalities covered by the indictment operate on tax based structures, the ultimate victims of defendants' alleged illegal conduct are the taxpayers. The public interest would be harmed if these municipalities were unable to introduce a prior final criminal judgment as prima facie evidence of a Clayton Act violation.
Finally the court is not satisfied that interests of judicial economy are best served by acceptance of a nolo plea. The court concedes that the duration of the trial will be affected by three less defendants, but a trial must still be held for the other co-defendants. This court believes that the interest of the public far outweighs a small consideration of judicial economy.
The court has not felt the need to rely upon the government's objection to the motion because the defendants have not presented any special circumstances that have any substance when measured by the factors set forth in U.S. v. Standard Ultra-marine & Color Co., supra.
Finally, the court states, perhaps unnecessarily, that the rejection of the plea is no indication that it has any view as to the defendants' guilt or innocence. The motion is decided on public policy considerations. These defendants, as all defendants have the benefit of the presumption of innocence, which remains in their favor unless the government shall sustain its burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.