WASHINGTON (Rooters agency) – The President tonight is reported to be considering the last-minute appeal for clemency by lawyers for Georgia Combine, scheduled to be executed at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
In one of the most sensational and controversial trials of recent times, Georgia Combine was convicted of the premeditated murder of an indeterminate number of people by means of a widely distributed poisoned cough suppressant.
Defense lawyers argued that the charge of premeditated murder was excessive and unfair. While the defendant admitted distributing the poisoned medicine, the defense argued that the intention was merely to obtain a larger than usual profit, not to kill the unfortunate victims.
Furthermore, the defense lawyers claimed that the trial judge had prevented the jury from learning of Georgia Combine’s willingness to pay compensation to family members of the victims. The request for a retrial based on this alleged error was eventually rejected by the Supreme Court in a divided decision.
The prosecutors argued, successfully, that Georgia Combine undoubtedly knew that distribution of the poisoned medicine would cause the deaths of many people who consumed it. The fact that the motive was monetary gain did not lessen the crime, but in fact made it more reprehensible, they said. As the chief prosecutor put it in his summing up, “If you kill someone because you expect to benefit from their will, that doesn’t make your crime only manslaughter instead of murder.”
Georgia Combine is the product of a consolidation of the pharmaceutical industry initiated by the late Atlanta billionaire P.G. (“Praise to God”) Srumwiller. The corporation was charged with first degree murder after a rogue computer published on the internet internal Georgia Combine documents that frankly acknowledged the likely deadly consequences of consuming the best-selling GC Coughgone. These documents included jury-swaying lines such as, “So we lose 2-3% of customers when they kick the bucket. So what? There are lots more where they came from, as Barnum pointed out.”
As is well known, it was some years after the Supreme Court declared corporations to be persons under the Constitution before a prosecutor decided to pursue this ruling to its logical conclusion. But once the decision was made, the subsequent execution of all US tobacco corporations was inevitable. Only slightly more controversial were the trials and executions of the automobile and oil corporations. Almost nobody objected when the banks were charged and eventually executed.
Somewhat paradoxically, perhaps, these earlier executions might save the life of Georgia Combine. The very frequent executions of killer corporations have produced a reaction. There is a growing if still minority view that the country has gone too far in executing criminal corporations “almost indiscriminately”, as an op-ed piece in the New York Times put it. “How can we have capitalism if we have no corporations?”
This argument for less resort to the ultimate penalty is thought to be Georgia Combine’s best chance for securing presidential clemency. However, the legal consequences of clemency, should it be granted, are not at all clear: how do you imprison a corporation for life?