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Supreme Court to Determine Whether Distribution of Drugs Causing Death Is a Strict Liability Crime

Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Burrage v. United States (No. 12-7515).  The questions presented are:

1. Whether the crime of distribution of drugs causing death under 21 U.S.C. § 841 is a strict liability crime, without a foreseeability or proximate cause requirement.

2. Whether a person can be convicted for distribution of heroin causing death utilizing jury instructions which allow a conviction when the heroin that was distributed “contributed to, ” death by “mixed drug intoxication,” but was not the sole cause of death of a person.

The Court also dismissed Boyer v. Louisiana as improvidently granted.  The Court had granted cert on the question whether  "a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years, particularly where failure was the direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty, should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes."

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