[JURIST] Lawyers for the US Department of Justice Tuesday asked for less than one-tenth of the expected penalty in a civil racketeering case against major tocacco companies. At the conclusion of closing arguments [JURIST report; US DOJ press statement], government lawyer Stephen D. Brody asked for just $10 billion of the original $130 billion dollar penalty calculated for what the US contends was a half-century long conspiracy aimed at addicting and defrauding smokers. A lawyer for defendant Philip Morris USA [corporate website] expressed surprise at the move and said it was "clear the government hasn't thought through what it's doing." Anti-smoking advocates also denounced the move as "a self-inflicted blow" that would decrease the chances of helping smokers in need. A ruling is expected in the next few months. The Department of Justice has documents and background material on the tobacco litigation. The Washington Post has more.