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The consul argues the defendant's due process rights were violated

Could the highest profile music piracy case to be brought against an individual in the U.S. be headed to The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)? That's the outcome lawyers for working mom Jammie Thomas-Rasset are hoping for.

The defendant's legal team has filed a petition for certiorari claiming that their client's right to due process has been violated.  The case has been kicked around the courts for some time.

Ms. Thomas-Rasset first lost in a June 2009 jury verdict, with the jury deciding on a $1.92M USD fine, arguing that lawyers for music labels like Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) BMG and their trade group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sufficiently proved that the working mom had willfully-infringed on 24 songs.

After the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the verdict, the matter seemed settled, setting a rather draconian precedent.  But a judge cut the fine to a mere $54,000 USD.

Then it was deja vu all over again -- the case went to retrial, a jury found Ms. Thomas-Rasset guilty of another huge fine ($1.5M USD, this time), and then the judge yet again bumped the fine to $54,000 USD.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset
Jammie Thomas-Rasset (left) [Image Source: joonbug]

Most recently the RIAA, et al. appealed the reduction, and the fine was bumped back slightly to $222,000 USD, where it currently sits.  That appeal prompted Ms. Thomas-Rasset's lawyers to ask the SCOTUS to hear the case.

The defendant's lawyers cite State Farm v. Campbell, BMW v. Gore, and St. Louis I.M. & S. Railway Co. v. Williams as relevant cases.  These cases all involved the plaintiff seeking a large amount of punitive damages (for example Dr. Ira Gore sued BMW and initially won $4M USD in punitive damages after BMW sold him a repainted vehicle and claimed it was new).  In each case the SCOTUS ruled that there should be reasonable limits, based on the scope of the civil offense, to punitive damages.

The RIAA and big media backers are estimated to have spent over $3M USD on the case; Ms. Thomas-Rasset has received much of her legal services and fees paid for via donations.

Source: RIAA v. The People





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