Waters-Pierce Oil Co. v. Texas,
212 U.S. 86 (1909)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Waters-Pierce Oil Co. v. Texas , 212 U.S. 86 (1909)

Waters-Pierce Oil Company v. Texas (No. 1)

No. 359

Argued November 2, 3, 1908

Decided January 18, 1909

212 U.S. 86


The jurisdiction of this Court, under § 709 Rev.Stat., to review the proceeding of state court is limited to specific instance of denial of federal right specially set up in and denied by the state court.

This court does not review, but accepts a conclusive, the findings of fact made by the state court.

Although the state court may incorrectly charge as to certain provisions of a statute, if the jury finds that defendant has violated those provisions and also other provisions not involving any federal question, and only one penalty is assessed, the judgment rests on a nonfederal ground sufficient to sustain it, and this Court has not jurisdiction to review it under 709 Rev.Stat.

Although an agreement to violate the antitrust law of a state may be made outside of the state, if the parties thereto or their agent execute it, or attempt so to do, within the state, they are under the jurisdiction of the state, and their conviction for such act is not without due process of law.

Page 212 U. S. 87

States having power to prevent unlawful combinations in restraint of trade may provide the procedure for enforcing the same, subject only to the qualification that such procedure must not deny or conflict with fundamental or constitutional rights.

Even though it would be giving a penal statute a retroactive effect to make it apply to an unlawful agreement executed prior to the passage of the act by defendant's predecessor in interest, defendant is subject to conviction for violating the act after its enactment by making itself a party to and carrying out its illegal provisions.

Where defendant has had a fair trial and the question of liability has been submitted to a jury and the judgment reviewed and sustained by an appellate court, this Court will not hold that there has been a deprivation of due process of law because the state statute permitted, and the court charged, that conviction could be had not only for acts accomplishing, but also for those tending or reasonably calculated to bring about, the things prohibited.

The antitrust laws of Texas involved in this case are not unconstitutional as depriving any one of due process of law because vague and indefinite as prohibiting acts which "tend" or are "reasonably calculated" to restrain trade and prevent competition.

The fixing of punishment for crime and penalties for unlawful acts is within the police power of the state, and this Court cannot interfere with state legislation in fixing fines, or judicial action in imposing them, unless so grossly excessive as to amount to deprivation of property without due process of law.

Where a state antitrust law fixed penalties at $5,000 a day, and, after verdict of guilty for over 300 days, a defendant corporation was fined over $1,600,000, this Court will not hold that the fine is so excessive as to amount to deprivation of property without due process of law where it appears that the business was extensive and profitable during the period of violation, and that the corporation has over $40,000,000 of assets and has declared dividends amounting to several hundred percent

106 S.W. 918 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 212 U. S. 96

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