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September 26, 2022

A few US Supreme Court and Ohio Supreme Court cases involving causation and deaths from drug dealing

Especially because I have given some attention to the (still-growing) problem of drug overdose deaths and possible criminal responsibility therefore, I wanted to flag for you a couple of relatively recent cases dealing with causation issues in this context.  You are NOT required or even expected to read these cases (especially because the Ohio ruling is more than a bit confusing), but I thought you might find it interesting to see the settings in which courts now most commonly confront the kinds of causation issues that we are discussing this week.  Here are links to these two  rulings, along with the start of the courts' opinions in each case:

From the US Supreme Court:

Burrage v. United States, 571 U.S. 204 (2014):  "The Controlled Substances Act imposes a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence on a defendant who unlawfully distributes a Schedule I or II drug, when 'death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance.' 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)–(C) (2012 ed.).  We consider whether the mandatory-minimum provision applies when use of a covered drug supplied by the defendant contributes to, but is not a but-for cause of, the victim’s death or injury."

From the Ohio Supreme Court:

State v. Price, 162 Ohio St.3d 609 (2020): "In this discretionary appeal from the Eighth District Court of Appeals, which also certified a conflict between its judgment and a judgment of the Fifth District Court of Appeals, we consider whether a trial court, when instructing a jury on the causation element of the offense of corrupting another with drugs, is required to inform the jury that it must find not only that the accused’s conduct was the 'but-for' cause of serious physical harm to the victim — i.e., that without the accused’s conduct, the injury would not have occurred — but also that it was an 'independently sufficient cause' of that harm."

September 26, 2022 | Permalink


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