Harris v. United States, No. 19-3363 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Petitioner sought federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, arguing that his counsel was ineffective by not challenging whether his prior drug convictions were predicates, as Indiana law defined cocaine isomers more broadly than federal law.
The Seventh Circuit concluded that, although petitioner forfeited his theory of ineffectiveness in the district court, it is subject to plain error review. The court also concluded that, because it was objectively reasonable for petitioner's counsel not to advise risking a mandatory life sentence to pursue the isomer argument, the district court did not plainly err in ruling that counsel's performance was constitutionally adequate. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief.