DeCoster v. United States
- Case Date: 7/27/2015
- Project Name: Criminalization of Free Enterprise - Business Civil Liberties Program
On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a short order declining to review a divided Eighth Circuit decision that upheld a term of imprisonment on two executives of Quality Egg LLC under the “responsible corporate officer” (RCO) doctrine—a rare instance of strict supervisory liability in the criminal law. The decision was a setback for WLF, which filed a brief in the case arguing that although the Supreme Court has permitted the imposition of strict criminal liability in the absence of mens rea in the narrow category of public welfare offenses, it has done so only with the understanding that penalties imposed in such cases will be relatively small and the conviction will not gravely damage defendant’s reputation. The appeals court’s ruling in this case, WLF warned, expands such strict supervisory liability far beyond the constitutional bounds the Supreme Court first articulated when adopting the RCO doctrine over 70 years ago.
More Information and Downloads:
2/9/2017: Download the Brief
7/27/2015: Download the Brief
ProfessorBainbridge.com: Has the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine run amok?