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United States v. Joyce

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 11, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Thomas Joyce, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted June 13, 2018 [*] San Francisco, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California D.C. No. 4:14-cr-00607-PJH-4 Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief District Judge, Presiding

          Robert Waggener, San Francisco, California, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Mary Helen Wimberly and James J. Fredricks, Attorneys; Marvin N. Price Jr., Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Andrew C. Finch, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General; Kelsey C. Linnett and Alexis J. Loeb, Antitrust Division; United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Michael R. Murphy, [**] Richard A. Paez, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY [***]

         Criminal Law

         Affirming a conviction for conspiring to suppress and restrain competition by rigging bids, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1, the panel held that bid rigging is per se illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and that the district court therefore did not err by refusing to permit the defendant to introduce evidence of the alleged ameliorative effects of his conduct.

          OPINION

          MURPHY, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Appellant Thomas Joyce was charged by indictment with conspiring to suppress and restrain competition by rigging bids, in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Joyce brought a pretrial motion, arguing the matter should be adjudicated under a rule of reason analysis rather than the per se analysis advocated by the government. The district court ruled against Joyce, concluding the bid-rigging scheme alleged in the indictment was illegal per se under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Joyce proceeded to trial and was convicted. He challenges his conviction, arguing the district court erred by refusing to apply the rule of reason analysis to the bid-rigging charge.

         In this appeal, we are presented with the question of whether bid rigging is a per se violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. We conclude it is. Accordingly, exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The indictment in this matter alleged that Joyce participated in a bid-rigging scheme involving foreclosed real property in Contra Costa County, California. Specifically, the indictment charged that Joyce and his coconspirators agreed to suppress competition by refraining from bidding against each other at public auctions. The means and methods alleged included: agreeing not to compete to purchase selected properties at public auctions; designating which conspirators would win selected properties at public auctions; refraining from bidding for selected properties at public auctions; purchasing selected properties at public auctions at artificially suppressed prices; negotiating, making, and receiving ...


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