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Edward F. Harrington

Edward Francis Harrington (born September 16, 1933) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Edward F. Harrington
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Assumed office
March 1, 2001
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
February 22, 1988 – March 1, 2001
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byAndrew Augustine Caffrey
Succeeded bySeat abolished
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
In office
Appointed byJimmy Carter
Preceded byJames N. Gabriel
Succeeded byBill Weld
Personal details
Edward Francis Harrington

(1933-09-16) September 16, 1933 (age 86)
Fall River, Massachusetts
Political partyDemocrat (Until 1984)
Republican (1984 – Present)
ResidenceNeedham, Massachusetts
EducationCollege of the Holy Cross (A.B.)
Boston College Law School (J.D.)

Early lifeEdit

Harrington was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. He graduated from Sacred Heart Grammar School in 1947, from B.M.C. Durfee High School in 1951 with high honors. He was the recipient of Durfee High School's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995. His grandfather, Edward F. Harrington was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. His father, John J. Harrington, taught at B.M.C. Durfee High School for over forty years (1929-1970). His mother, Elizabeth C. Harrington, was a grammar school teacher.

Harrington graduated in cursu honoris, cum laude with an Artium Baccalaureus from College of the Holy Cross in 1955 and with a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 1960. At Holy Cross, Harrington was a member of the Naval ROTC. At Boston College Law School, he was on the Dean's List and a member of the Law Review. He became a member of the Massachusetts Bar in 1960.

He served on active duty in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1957 on destroyer escorts as the gunnery officer, and was a Lieutenant Junior Grade. He was in the United States Navy Reserve from 1957 to 1972. He was a law clerk to the Honorable Paul C. Reardon, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court from 1960 to 1961.[1][2]

He married Ellen Mary Erisman on July 27, 1957. They had six children and twenty-three grandchildren.[3] Ellen graduated from the College of New Rochelle in 1955 with a Baccalavrei In Artibus in Sociology and was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. She attended Fordham University School of Social Work from 1955-1957. She was employed by the Foundling Hospital in New York City, specializing in adoptions, from 1955-1957, and later worked for Catholic Charities in Boston from 1957-1958. She died on October 28, 2014. Ellen and Edward had been married for fifty-seven years.


He was a trial attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. from 1961-65. While at the Department of Justice, Harrington was a member of the special prosecution group conducting the nationwide probe of racketeering in the Teamsters Union. As one of the fifteen members of Robert F. Kennedy's so-called "Hoffa Squad", he investigated illegalities in James Hoffa's Teamsters Union. During the so-called "long hot summer of 1964," Harrington was a member of a select team of attorneys dispatched to the State of Mississippi by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to protect the civil rights workers who were conducting "freedom schools" in voter registration there. During this assignment, he was involved in the grand jury investigation of the murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi during that summer.

He was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1965 to 1969. In that capacity, he participated in the successful prosecution of Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the alleged boss of the New England organized crime family, in 1968 for interstate racketeering. The chief government witness in the Patriarca case, Joseph Barboza, was one of the first organized crime figures to break the "code of silence." The security procedures used to protect accomplice witness Barboza formed the basis for the Witness Protection Program, which was formally established by the U.S. Congress in 1970.

In 1968, Harrington was an advisor to the National Commission on Violence and from 1974 to 1976 was a consultant to the Commission on the National Policy toward Gambling.

In 1969, Harrington became the Deputy Attorney In Charge of the newly-created U.S. Department of Justice's Strike Force against Organized Crime for the New England area and was the Attorney In Charge from 1970 to 1973. During this period, major gangland accomplice witnesses, such as Vincent C. Teresa and John J. Kelley, were developed. Their testimony resulted in the convictions of numerous significant underworld figures. Teresa was the chief witness in 1971 before the Permanent Senate Subcommittee investigating organized criminal securities fraud in the Wall Street brokerage houses. The "Strike Force" installed the first court-authorized wiretap in the District of Massachusetts in 1970.

From 1973 to 1977, Harrington was in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1974, he was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for Attorney General of Massachusetts. He was defeated by Francis X. Bellotti in the primary election, where he finished third in a six-person race.[4]

In 1975, he was appointed by Governor Michael S. Dukakis as Chairman of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, in which capacity he served until January 1977.

In 1976, Harrington was the Massachusetts Co-Chairman of the Sargent Shriver Campaign for President.

In August 1977, Harrington was appointed by President Carter as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. During his term, the United States Attorney's Office successfully prosecuted members of the Boston School Committee and initiated grand jury investigations into corruption in Boston City Hall, resulting in the conviction of several municipal political figures. The Office also assisted the Ward Commission, which had been established by the State Legislature, in its probe of corruption in the awarding of state construction contracts and its reform of the awarding process. The Office's investigation resulted in the conviction of a member of the State Senate. During his term as U.S. Attorney, five members of the notorious "Winter Hill Gang" were convicted in the so-called "Horse Race Fix" case of 1979, including its leader, Howie Winter. The Office supervised the planting of the court-authorized "bugging" of the headquarters of the Boston organized crime family in 1980, which resulted in the successful prosecution and demise of the Angiulo organized criminal organization. James "Whitey" Bulger was one of the confidential informants supporting the affidavit submitted to the Court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office was involved in the landmark Turkette case in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981 construed the term "enterprise" in the RICO statute to include illegal, as well as legal, enterprises.

As U.S. Attorney, he served as a member of the United States Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys from 1977 to 1980, and coordinated the security arrangements for Pope John Paul II's visit to Boston in 1979. Harrington left the U.S. Attorney's Office in November 1981, and entered the private practice of law with Sheridan, Garrahan and Lander with offices in Framingham, Massachusetts, where he was engaged in trial practice.

In 1986, he was the Republican Party's candidate for Attorney General of Massachusetts, but he lost in the general election to Democrat James Shannon, 55% to 45%.[5][1]

In 2002, Harrington testified for the defense in the federal RICO trial of FBI agent John J. Connolly, and again in 2008 in the Florida state murder trial of Connolly, who was convicted of second degree murder for assisting James "Whitey" Bulger. In both cases, Harrington's testimony related to Connolly's contribution to the decimation of the New England Mafia.[6]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

On September 18, 1987, Harrington was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts vacated by Judge Andrew Augustine Caffrey. Harrington was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 19, 1988 and received his commission on February 22, 1988. He assumed senior status on March 1, 2001. He was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System from 1992 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2011.

Harrington helped shape the novel "fraud on the market" doctrine in security fraud cases, adopted the controversial use of "repressed memory" in sexual abuse cases, formulated the scholastic standards required of learning-disabled students in private schools, required standards for public school teachers and due diligence for federal regulators of the fishing industry, fashioned discovery rules for electronic documents, and upheld the supremacy of the cell-phone tower statute over local zoning regulations.

He participated in many major patent cases involving significant inventions in the medical, electronic, and communication fields, and applied the anti-trust theory to "take-over" companies’ conspiring to depress the value of corporations to be acquired. His opinions in McGuire v. Reilly resolved the contentious confrontations between pro-life protesters and abortion clinic employees outside a Brookline abortion clinic by imposing on equal protection grounds the same counseling restrictions on both adversaries.

Harrington was an early critic of the mandatory Sentencing Commission Guidelines, criticizing them for their inflexibility and severity. As Senior Judge, he declined to hear criminal cases based on his conviction that the Guidelines infringed the sentencing judge's traditional discretion SEE U.S. v. SIDHOM, 144F.SUPP.2d.41 (2001). The United States Supreme Court ultimately rendered the Guidelines discretionary, rather than mandatory, and he resumed trying criminal cases. His article "The Metaphorical Wall" on the separation of Church and State was published in America, the national Jesuit magazine, on January 17, 2005. Its theme was that the First Amendment is a prohibition against government, not religion, and fully protects religious exercise and speech.

Harrington served as both U.S. Attorney and U.S. District Judge for the federal District of Massachusetts, a distinction held by only six other individuals since the District was established in 1789.

Since 2015, Harrington has been conducting mediation hearings in the District Court's ADR Program.

He had a simple judicial philosophy: "I had no agenda other than to try to resolve disputes justly and expeditiously under established principles of law."



  1. ^ a b c "Harrington, Edward Francis - Federal Judicial Center".
  2. ^ Dwyer, Timothy (August 1, 1977). "Harrington starts today as US attorney". The Boston Globe.
  3. ^ "Ellen M. (Erisman) Harrington's Obituary on The Recorder". The Recorder. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  4. ^ Massachusetts Election Statistics 1974. p. 218.
  5. ^ Massachusetts Election Statistics 1986. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  6. ^ "Judge testifies Connolly helped decimate the Mafia". The Boston Globe. October 14, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  7. ^ Harrington, Edward. Personal Interview. Rhode Island. 30 June 2018.