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UNITED STATES v. MINNESOTA MINING AND MANUFACTURING CO.

January 5, 1966

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MINNESOTA MINING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Juergens, Chief Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the propriety of accepting a plea of NOLO CONTENDERE on behalf of the defendant, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.

The Court has never looked with favor upon such pleas. At a hearing on October 20, 1965, the government stated it did not oppose the acceptance of such a plea.

The primary question in the acceptance of a nolo contendere plea is whether or not under all the circumstances it is justified and whether or not the public interest will be better served by the acceptance of such a plea.

Frankly speaking, it is very difficult for this Court to justify the acceptance of a nolo plea in any criminal case. The defendant or defendants are either guilty or they are not guilty.

I think we may compare a nolo contendere plea in a criminal case to the "confession and avoidance" plea in a civil case under the old common law pleadings.

I am assuming since the government does not oppose the acceptance of the plea, and in fact agrees that the Court should accept such a plea, that its position is that there is justification for the acceptance of such a plea and that there is no harm to the public. But, on the other hand, we might conjecture that there will be a tremendous advantage to the defendant by the Court accepting its nolo contendere plea.

In view of the statements of counsel for the government made both orally and in written briefs and in view of the interpretation that the Court places on the government's position in not opposing such a plea that no public harm would ensue in accepting the nolo contendere plea and in spite of this Court's disfavor of such a plea, I did accept the plea of nolo contendere of this defendant. The record so shows.

Each party to this cause submitted material relating to sentencing ex parte in camera on December 3, 1965, for this Court to consider in imposing a penalty on this defendant for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust laws of the United States.

For all purposes so far as penalties are concerned, a plea of nolo contendere is in effect a plea of guilty before this Court. The fact that the Court has agreed to accept a nolo contendere plea does not mean that the defendant can expect to receive any less or any more consideration than it would have received had the plea been that of guilty. For all intents and purposes the defendant stands before this Court convicted by its own plea.

The grand jury for the Eastern District of Illinois returned a nine count indictment. The defendant has plead nolo contendere to Counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 and thereby recognizes that by tendering pleas of nolo contendere to the foregoing counts of the indictment, it is admitting its guilt to those counts for purposes of this criminal case. I have been informed that the government will dismiss Counts 5, 6, 8 and 9.

The grand jury returned an indictment containing many similar charges with respect to each of the three industries which 3M undertook to dominate, namely, (1) pressure sensitive tape, (2) magnetic recording media and (3) aluminum presensitized lithographic plates, by employing or attempting to employ in each of them a system of coercing competitors into accepting highly restrictive license agreements.

With regard to the tape industry — Count 1 charges an attempt to monopolize; Count 2, conspiracy to restrain trade; and Count 3, conspiracy to monopolize.

With regard to the magnetic recording media (concerning which this Court has some knowledge, having heard Armour Research Foundation of Illinois Institute of Technology v. C.K. Williams & Co., 170 F. Supp. ...


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