The United States Sentencing Commission periodically reviews and revises current guidelines and submits proposed guideline amendments to the Congress for approval not later than the first day of May each year. The Sentencing Commission is currently seeking comments on possible priority policy issues for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2015. One of the priority guidelines the Commission is seeking comment on is the guideline for sentencing antitrust individuals and corporations for Bid Rigging, Market Allocation and Price Fixing, §2R1.1. Comments are due by July 29, 2014.
An area that is of great interest to me is how the guidelines calculate guideline range individual jail sentences. This area needs major reform if this guideline is to be rational and equitable and taken seriously by the Courts. I’ll just touch on one critical aspect of the individual sentencing guideline in this post. The current guideline gives far too much weight to volume of commerce as a measure of culpability. In most international cartels, (such as the Liquid Crystal Display cartel) even a mid-level executive (i.e. sales manager) who is directed by a superior to attend cartel meetings may be facing the maximum ten years in prison under the Sherman Act. By contrast, a hypothetical business owner in the U.S. who rigs a $2 million construction contract and pockets a $200,000 overcharge would be far less culpable under the current guideline. The hypothetical calculations look like this: