United States v. Patten
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226 U.S. 525 (1913)
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U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Patten, 226 U.S. 525 (1913)
United States v. Patten
Argued November 9, 10, 1911
Reargued October 23, 24, 1912
Decided January , 1913
226 U.S. 525
On appeal under the Criminal Appeals Act of March 2, 1907, this Court must accept the lower court's construction of the counts, and its jurisdiction is limited to considering whether the decision of the
court below that the acts charged are not criminal is based upon an erroneous construction of the statute alleged to have been violated.
In order to decide whether acts charged are within the condemnation of a statute, the court must first ascertain what the statute does condemn, and that involves its construction.
On appeal under the Criminal Appeals Act of 1907, this Court must assume that the counts of the indictment adequately allege whatever the lower court treated them as alleging, and, where its decision shows that it assumed that every element necessary to form a combination was present, this Court has jurisdiction to determine whether such a combination was illegal under the statute which defendants are charged with violating.
A conspiracy to run a corner in the available supply of a staple commodity which is normally a subject of interstate commerce, such as cotton, and thereby to artificially enhance its price throughout the country, is within the terms of § 1 of the Anti-Trust Act of July 2, 1890.
Section 1 of the Anti-Trust Act is not confined to voluntary restraints, but includes involuntary restraints, as where persons not engaged in interstate commerce conspire to compel action by others or create artificial conditions which necessarily affect and restrain such commerce.
A combination otherwise illegal under the Anti-Trust Act as suppressing competition is not the less so because, for a time, it may tend to stimulate competition -- and so held as to a corner in cotton.
The Anti-Trust Act does not apply to a combination affecting trade or commerce that is purely intrastate, or where the effect on interstate commerce is merely incidental and not direct; but, although carried on wholly within a state, if the necessary operation of a combination is to directly impede and burden the due course of interstate commerce, it is within the prohibition of the statute, and so held as to a corner in cotton to be run in New York City.
Persons purposely engaging in a conspiracy which necessarily and directly produces the result which a prohibitory statute is designed to prevent are, in legal contemplation, chargeable with intending to produce that result, and so held that, if the details of the conspiracy are alleged in the indictment, an allegation of specific intent to produce the natural results is not essential.
The character and effect of a conspiracy is not to be judged by dismembering it and viewing its separate parts, but only by looking at it as a whole.
187 F. 664 reversed.
The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court under the Criminal Appeals Act of March 2, 1907, and whether a corner in cotton constitutes an illegal combination under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, are stated in the opinion.