jury essay - Peter Dimas 19 October 2007 CRW 112/Williams...

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Peter Dimas 19 October 2007 CRW 112/Williams Jury Duty In Steven J. Adler’s The Jury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom , there are a variety of cases discussed. In most trials, the verdict of the jury was corrupted from manipulative speeches from the defendant/prosecutor (lawyer and actual person), their own emotions, ignorance of the complex and abstract laws and the refusal of the judge to give the jury more detailed legal information of the certain case presented to them. The most significant trial in the book is on the fourth chapter “ What’s a Blivet?”. Relevant chapter includes “ Lawyers’ Poker” (chapter two). “ What’s a Blivet?” takes place in Greensboro, NC, and is one of the most complicated cases in the book for the jury to handle. The court case that took place was between two major cigarette corporations: Liggett & Myers vs. B&W (Brown & Williamson). In the early 1980s, since Liggett’s sales were heavily suffering, its executives decided “to break the unwritten industry rule, slash prices, and build sales among budget-conscious smokers” (120). The plan of having black and white (generic cigarettes) worked, and by the early 80s, sixty-five percent of its sales were made by the cheap cigarettes (121). However, the idea of generic ideas did not remain unique for long. B&W saw that the generic cigarettes were hurting their sales. Therefore “in self-defense B&W executives decided to market a cheap cigarette of their own and charge some big wholesalers even less than they had been paying for Liggett’s version. The B&W counterattack quickly cut into Liggett’s sales. Liggett cried foul and
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filed suit” (121). Of course, B&W claimed that they were merely making aggressive competition. Liggett and its lawyer Rasmussen however saw things from a different perspective. Rasmussen managed to file the lawsuit against B&W that claimed the conglomerate violated the Robinson-Patman Act. Though the interpretation of the act was very complex and “lawyers and judges had been debating in scholarly articles and abstruse court opinions for years” (117), the law is basically as stated: “Under the Robinson-Patman Act, companies were barred from charging some customers more than others for the same product if the price difference was aimed at interfering with free competition. The law was supposed to prevent a big supermarket chain…Unless such behavior was prohibited, lawmakers had reasoned, the chain would be able to eliminate each mom-and-pop competitor and then raise its prices even higher” (121). Thus, once all competition was eliminated from making even cheaper generic cigarettes, Rasmussen claimed that B&W would create a monopoly in the market. Once created, they would remove the cheap cigarettes, and set their cigarettes to even higher prices. I personally find this hard to believe; even if B&W’s intention was to damage Liggett, they would achieve nothing, since bigger companies than B&W could also create their own
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jury essay - Peter Dimas 19 October 2007 CRW 112/Williams...

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