Question Presented (composed by Scotusblog):
Whether the Fifth and Sixth Amendment principles that this Court established in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and its progeny, apply to the imposition of criminal fines.
Petitioner, a natural gas company, was found guilty by jury of one count of knowingly storing mercury without a permit, 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(2)(A). The jury wasn’t called upon to find such storage for more than one day, and the penalty provision of 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d) provides for a fine of “not more than $50,000 for each day of violation.” The district court nonetheless imposed a fine of $38.1 million dollars, representing the 762 days alleged in the indictment times the maximum allowed for each day of violation. Simply put, the question is whether Apprendi applies to fines – if so, then the maximum fine should be 50k. As the Brief in Opposition concedes, the “Court has never taken up ‘the question of whether the imposition of a fine falls under the Apprendi rule.'” Now it has.