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DOJ defends decision to reduce proposed penalty in tobacco case

[JURIST] Federal prosecutors Thursday explained their controversial decision earlier this week to reduce a proposed racketeering penalty [JURIST report] against major tobacco companies from $130 billion to $10 billion, saying that they were focusing on future smokers who might become addicted if the tobacco companies' alleged behavior continues, rather than on those suffered from it by becoming hooked in the past. Democratic members of Congress were "outraged" by the downsized amount and requested that the Justice Department's inspector general investigate whether political appointees had any influence on the decision. US Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum [DOJ biography] said Justice Department employees and political appointees had worked together "to devise the most appropriate strategy" while lawyer for Philip Morris [corporate website] Dan Webb [attorney profile] denied that the decision was made to benefit tobacco companies. The Justice Department has documents and background materials on the tobacco ligitation. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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