Harrington v. Ormond, No. 17-6229 (6th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Harrington was convicted in 2009 of seven drug offenses, including conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute heroin and at least 50 grams of cocaine base, resulting in death (Count 1); and distributing heroin, resulting in death (Count 7). Citing 21 U.S.C. 841 and 851, the government filed notice that Harrington was subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment by reason of a 2002 felony drug conviction. The district court sentenced Harrington to concurrent terms of life in prison on Counts 1 and 7, and 360 months on each remaining count. In 2014, the Supreme Court held, in Burrage, that where use of the drug distributed by the defendant is not an independently sufficient cause of the victim’s death or serious bodily injury, a defendant cannot be liable under the penalty enhancement provision unless such use was a but-for cause of the death or injury. Harrington unsuccessfully sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241. In 2017, Harrington filed a second petition. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit vacated. Harrington’s claim is properly construed as one of actual innocence. Because Burrage is retroactive, Harrington is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine whether it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him, if given the proper jury instruction.