Lisa Phelan spoke to Law360 about the government putting 10 people on trial in Colorado federal court over their alleged role in a sprawling scheme among some of the nation’s largest poultry producers to fix the price of chicken sold in restaurants, grocery stores, and elsewhere. The case marks one in a series targeting the broiler chicken industry, stemming from an ongoing criminal antitrust investigation.
According to Lisa, antitrust cases often involve esoteric products or issues that can be hard for a jury to connect with. But, with products like chicken and tuna, the government may have an advantage.
“It’s a very relatable product that jurors are going to care about,” Lisa said. “They may have just gone to the store and been frustrated at the price of their last chicken dinner. Things like that matter in these kinds of jury trials because at the end of the day, it’s sort of a human drama and you need a set of 12 people to think this is important.”
On the other hand, she said, there are both advantages and disadvantages to trying 10 people at once. The government will be able to introduce a lot of information to try and prove the existence of a conspiracy but it also risks overwhelming the jury.
“The downside is that it complicates the trial dramatically,” Lisa added. “As with many things in life, keeping it simple is often the better strategy.”
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