Jim Harrington - Successes
Jim Harrington has been defending criminal cases, and other matters, for over 30 years. He has handled a wide variety of cases ranging from misdemeanor cases to drug cases to death penalty cases. He has handled many cases in state and federal courts as an attorney appointed by the court, and in many of these he was specifically sought out by a federal or state court judge to take a case that was problematic in some way.
What follows are some of the more significant matters handled recently, and successfully by Jim Harrington. We point out, however, that any success in past cases cannot be used as a predictor of what will happen in the next case. And, no attorney can, or should, give any guarantee or promise as to the outcome of a case.
In 1985 Welton Miles was charged in Erie County with murdering his girlfriend. Despite circumstantial evidence of Mr. Miles access to the apartment and presence near the time of the homicide, Mr. Harrington was able to persuade the jury that the girlfriend's landlord's son probably killed her to prevent her from testifying about his drug dealing, and his storing of drugs in the garage beneath her apartment.
Harvey Miles was charged in 1994 with killing another young man in a street shootout, after the victim made threats against him. Even though no weapon was found belonging to the victim, Mr. Harrington persuaded the jury, through cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses and the testimony of the accused, that this was a legitimate case of self defense and Mr. Miles was acquitted.
Inspections at the border with Canada result in many criminal charges involving the smuggling of controlled substances. Frequently drugs are concealed in tractor-trailers coming across the bridges and invariably the driver is arrested. Because the proposition of guilt is plausible, and the consequences of conviction enormous, it takes considerable courage for an accused to go to trial. In a string of cases of this type, some very recent, Jim achieved complete acquittals for his clients. U.S. v Beant Mann (2004) ( 450 lbs. of marijuana hidden in trailer); U.S. v. Tarlochan Jagpal (2006) (585 lbs. of marijuana hidden in trailer); U.S. v. Desmond Williams (1987) (270 lbs. of marijuana hidden in trailer); U.S. v. Huy Nguyen (1988) (Passenger in a car which had 20 lbs. of heroin in suitcases, and expert witnesses were presented to testify that in Vietnamese culture, the accused would never inquire of the driver, who was his elder, what was in the suitcases).
In some cases we have achieved rare successes in arguing that the police investigation was conducted in violation of constitutional rights, like People v. Terrence Miles (1993 Greene County) (Stop on the New York State Thruway for a "seatbelt violation" which resulted in seizure of 1 kilogram of cocaine in the trunk and seizure was found to be illegal); People v. Tracy Fonville (1994 Erie County) (Wiretap, resulting in seizure at the Buffalo Airport of 2 kilograms of cocaine, found to be illegally obtained, resulting in suppression of the evidence and dismissal of the indictment); U.S. v Nigel Bostic (1991) (Seizure at Buffalo Airport of 8 oz. of cocaine ruled illegal and the evidence was suppressed and the federal indictment was dismissed).
Jim Harrington has obtained acquittals in several federal drug cases where the evidence of guilt was very strong. In U.S. v. Larry Holmes, in 2001, our client had been present with a friend during a drug transaction with an FBI informant which was recorded by video camera, but was acquitted after it was shown that the informant had lied on the witness stand and to the FBI.
In U.S. v. Michael Green, in 2000 (Rochester), our client was charged with multiple sales of cocaine to an informant which were observed by the federal investigators. He was acquitted after the defense showed that it was a possibility that the informant had lied and misled the police, and that the accused had sold marijuana, not cocaine.
A successful attack on the credibility of the informant also resulted in an acquittal in U.S. v. Charles Nocita, in 1999, where Mr. Harrington's client was charged with delivery of methamphetamine to an informant in California and conspiracy to deliver drugs to New York.
Sex Offense Cases
Among the most challenging criminal cases are those where children accuse adults of sexual abuse. Certainly there is no presumption of innocence in these cases. However we have obtained acquittals in these cases as well. In People v. Merrill Lewin (1996 Erie County) Mr. Harrington's client was charged with sexually abusing his grandson, and was acquitted acquitted by the jury after the boy's credibility was challenged on cross-examination.
The accused in People v. Michael Mitzo (2005 Erie County) was a day care center worker charged with sexually abusing a child at work, and in People v. Patrick Knoop (2002 Erie County) our client was charged with sexually abusing his girlfriend's child. In each case our client was acquitted by the jury after Mr. Harrington's cross-examination of the child, and our attack on the quality of the investigation.
In People v. Stephen Kantor (2003 Niagara County) our client was charged with forcible and statutory rape of a young woman he met on the internet, after the police claimed he made incriminatory admissions to them. Mr. Harrington's cross-examinations of the detectives, showing that the supposed "admissions" were not true, and of the complaining witness, resulted in a "not guilty" verdict.
Jonathan Parker was indicted in 1998 for the First Degree murder of a police officer, and additional charges for the wounding of a second police officer in an unprovoked street shooting. This was the first case in over 30 years in Erie County where the death penalty was sought, and the first and only capital case to be tried in Erie County since New York reinstated the death penalty in 1996. Mr. Parker was predictably found guilty of the shootings, and the real battle over his life was fought in the "sentencing phase" of the trial, where the jury would determine whether he would receive death, or "life without parole." Leading a team of experts, and an exhaustive investigation into the childhood of his client, including his upbringing in the "Jehovah's Witnesses" subculture, Jim presented extensive "mitigation" evidence which persuaded the jury to spare his client's life.
In other potential death penalty cases, in different New York counties, Mr. Harrington was appointed to serve as lead counsel and able to persuade the District Attorney not to seek the death penalty, resulting in a life sentence for his clients, using mitigating evidence, or demonstrating that the client was ineligible for the death penalty due to mental retardation:
People v. Robert Smith, Erie Co 2002, involving double homicide for stabbing a husband and wife, both 83 years old, each 20 times; People v. Bruce King (Chautauqua County 1996), Mr. King killed a co-worker by bludgeoning him a 2x4 while high on crack cocaine (Not only did the prosecutor remove the death penalty from consideration, Mr. King plead guilty to First Degree Manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years); U.S. v. Aaron Pike, in 2004. Mr. Pike was indicted in a federal drug conspiracy and was considered for indictment and capital prosecution for ordering the execution of a subordinate drug conspirator, which resulted in the shooting of that person and a friend at the same time. Mr. Harrington persuaded the United States Attorney not to recommend the death penalty, United States Attorney General declined to seek the death penalty.
Jim represented a Georgia inmate convicted and sentenced to death for killing a police officer after a robbery. He obtained a remarkable state habeas corpus decision setting aside the death sentence and directing a new sentencing hearing. This decision was just reversed by the Georgia Supreme Court, and the case will now go to federal court. Robert Wayne Holsey v. Derrick Schofield, Warden, 642 S.E.2d 56, 7 FCDR 492 (Ga. 2007)
In U.S. v. Rey Avelino in 1993 Jim defended a Philippines national charged with serious felony charges of "Trading with the Enemy," for selling two military jet planes and importing them from Vietnam to United States. His arrest was the result of a federal "sting" operation. He was acquitted by a jury of the serious charges and convicted only of lesser charges, and sentenced to the time he had already served awaiting trial, less than a year.
In U.S. v. George Strobridge, in 1985, Mr. Harrington's client was charged with threatening to kill the federal judge presiding over a civil case he had pending. Jim pursued a comprehensive strategy related to the mental illness of the client, and lack of intent to actually harm the judge, through cross-examination of the judge, the judge's failure to recognize the mental difficulties, and the client's own testimony. Mr. Strobridge was acquitted.
In 1990 Harold Scaggs was charged in federal court with participating in an attempted robbery of a bank with the use of a bomb in a briefcase. His co-defendant was implicated in five other similar bank robberies in Ohio and Georgia, but was not available to testify for him or against him at trial. (He had been shot in the face during the attempted robbery. He survived that, but committed suicide while in jail awaiting trial.) Nevertheless, through and the presentation of evidence, including his client's testimony, Mr. Harrington raised sufficient doubt about Mr. Scaggs' knowledge of the robbery that the jury found him "not guilty."