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United States v. Trenton Potteries Co.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 30, December 1, 1926, Argued ; February 21, 1927, Decided

No. 27

Opinion

 [*393]   [**378]   [***703]  MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents, twenty individuals and  [***704]  twenty-three corporations, were convicted in the district court for southern  [*394]  New York of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Law, Act of July 2, 1890, c. 647, 26 Stat. 209.  The indictment was in two counts. The first charged a combination to fix and maintain uniform prices for the sale of sanitary pottery, in restraint of interstate commerce; the second, a combination to restrain interstate commerce by limiting sales of pottery to a special group known to respondents as "legitimate jobbers." On [****5]  appeal, the court of appeals for the second circuit reversed the judgment of conviction on both counts on the ground that there were errors in the conduct of the trial. 300 Fed. 550. This Court granted certiorari. 266 U.S. 597. Jud. Code, § 240.

Respondents, engaged in the manufacture or distribution of 82 per cent. of the vitreous pottery fixtures produced in the United States for use in bathrooms and lavatories, were members of a trade organization known as the Sanitary Potters' Association. Twelve of the corporate respondents had their factories and chief places of business in New Jersey; one was located in California and the others were situated in Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many of them sold and delivered their product within the southern district of New York and some maintained sales offices and agents there.

There is no contention here that the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence that respondents, controlling some 82 per cent. of the business of manufacturing and distributing in the United States vitreous pottery of the type described, combined to fix prices and to limit sales in interstate [****6]  commerce to jobbers.

The issues raised here by the government's specification of errors relate only to the decision of the court of appeals upon its review of certain rulings of the district court made in the course of the trial. It is urged that the court below erred in holding in effect (1) that the trial  [*395]  court should have submitted to the jury the question whether the price agreement complained of constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade; (2) that the trial court erred in failing to charge the jury correctly on the question of venue; and (3) that it erred also in the admission and exclusion of certain evidence.

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273 U.S. 392 *; 47 S. Ct. 377 **; 71 L. Ed. 700 ***; 1927 U.S. LEXIS 975 ****; 50 A.L.R. 989

UNITED STATES v. TRENTON POTTERIES COMPANY ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]   CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

 CERTIORARI (266 U.S. 597) to a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals which reversed a conviction under the Sherman Act. The defendants were twenty individuals and twenty-three corporations engaged in the manufacturing of vitreous pottery fixtures used in bathrooms and lavatories.

Disposition:  300 Fed. 550, reversed.

CORE TERMS

prices, pottery, indictment, cases, price-fixing, conspiracy, trial court, sales, interstate commerce, counts, trial judge, Sherman Law, manufacturers, restrained, contracts, questions, jobbers

Antitrust & Trade Law, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Cartels & Horizontal Restraints, General Overview, Sherman Act, Vertical Restraints, Regulated Industries, Transportation, Railroads, Evidence, One's Own Witnesses, Application, Hostility, Testimony, Credibility of Witnesses, Impeachment, Criminal Law & Procedure, Trials, Direct Examinations