Tyson Foods was acquitted yesterday on several counts of conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S. to work as Tyson employees. It took less than five hours for the jury to find Tyson and three of its managers not guilty on 12 of the 36 original charges brought by the Justice Department (the judge threw out the other 24 for lack of evidence.) Basically what happened was a few local Tyson managers hired illegal immigrants, and the government decided to prosecute the entire company, despite the lack of any substantial evidence that corporate leaders knew what was happening. Indeed, Tyson made every effort to comply with immigration and labor laws, but given the company's high employee turnover (about 75% of their 120,000 workers leave each year), it was almost inevitable that some undocumented workers would slip through the cracks.
The jury forewoman was blunt in explaining the verdict: "I was appalled that the government didn't have more hard evidence than they had...It was so obvious that they needed more evidence."
Lucky for Tyson this wasn't an antitrust case. They might not have had the luxury of an impartial jury then.