Supreme Court to hear antitrust, criminal appeals News
Supreme Court to hear antitrust, criminal appeals

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] Thursday granted certiorari in five cases [order list, PDF], including two antitrust [JURIST news archive] cases, and three criminal appeals. There are currently two other antitrust cases [JURIST report] to be heard by the court this term. Credit Suisse v. Glen Billing (05-1157) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], which Chief Justice Roberts, without comment, decided to take no part in, examines allegations that 16 of the largest Wall Street investment firms, including Morgan Stanley & Co. [corporate website], Goldman Sachs & Co. [corporate website], and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. [corporate website], conspired with one another to force investors to pay premiums on highly sought after stock shares. The key issue is whether the firms are immune from antitrust liability, because the conduct engaged in is permitted under SEC regulations. In an amicus brief [text, PDF] filed by the Bush administration, government lawyers said that the investment firms immunity to antitrust liability is not unlimited, however they also argue that the Second Circuit Court’s ruling against the firms didn’t account for legitimate business collaboration which is legal and regulated by the SEC. The second antitrust case, Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. (06-480) [docket; cert. petition, PDF] will decide if product maker’s policies setting minimum retail prices for its products require “per se” or “rule of reason” analysis under Section 1 [text] of the Sherman Act.

The criminal appeal cases to be examined include: Fry v. Pliler (06-5247) [docket], in which John Fry was convicted for the 1992 murders of two California residents. The court will determine if it can be a “harmless error” that the trial court judge did not allow testimony from a witness who overheard her cousin confess. Roper v. Weaver (06-313) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], where the court may reinstate the death penalty for William Weaver, who was convicted of killing a man set to testify in a drug trial. His death sentence was commuted to life in prison because the prosecutor allegedly prejudiced the jury with a pro-death penalty speech. Finally Bowles v. Russell (06-5306) [docket], deals with the timing in filing an appeal by a convicted murder, where an appellate court regarded it as too late, while it was filed before a deadline set by a lower court. AP has more on both the antitrust and criminal cases. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.