Opinion of the Court
conduct that occurred within Alabama.21 The award must be analyzed in the light of the same conduct, with consideration given only to the interests of Alabama consumers, rather than those of the entire Nation. When the scope of the interest in punishment and deterrence that an Alabama court may appropriately consider is properly limited, it is apparent—for reasons that we shall now address—that this award is grossly excessive.
Elementary notions of fairness enshrined in our constitutional jurisprudence dictate that a person receive fair notice not only of the conduct that will subject him to punishment, but also of the severity of the penalty that a State may impose.22 Three guideposts, each of which indicates that BMW did not receive adequate notice of the magnitude of the sanction that Alabama might impose for adhering to the nondis-closure policy adopted in 1983, lead us to the conclusion that
21 Of course, the fact that the Alabama Supreme Court correctly concluded that it was error for the jury to use the number of sales in other States as a multiplier in computing the amount of its punitive sanction does not mean that evidence describing out-of-state transactions is irrelevant in a case of this kind. To the contrary, as we stated in TXO Production Corp. v. Alliance Resources Corp., 509 U. S. 443, 462, n. 28 (1993), such evidence may be relevant to the determination of the degree of reprehensibility of the defendant's conduct.
22 See Miller v. Florida, 482 U. S. 423 (1987) (Ex Post Facto Clause violated by retroactive imposition of revised sentencing guidelines that provided longer sentence for defendant's crime); Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U. S. 347 (1964) (retroactive application of new construction of statute violated due process); id., at 350-355 (citing cases); Lankford v. Idaho, 500 U. S. 110 (1991) (due process violated because defendant and his counsel did not have adequate notice that judge might impose death sentence). The strict constitutional safeguards afforded to criminal defendants are not applicable to civil cases, but the basic protection against "judgments without notice" afforded by the Due Process Clause, Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U. S. 186, 217 (1977) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment), is implicated by civil penalties.Page: Index Previous 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007