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Drug Lab Scandal Jeopardizes 23K Massachusetts Convictions

Image: Drug Lab Scandal Jeopardizes 23K Massachusetts Convictions

Annie Dookhan being arraigned in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

By    |   Thursday, 30 Mar 2017 07:25 AM

A drug lab scandal involving a rogue chemist that dates back years could wipe away as many as 23,000 drug crime convictions in Massachusetts.

Seven district attorneys were ordered by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to pick which among the questionable convictions connected to lab evidence provided by former chemist Annie Dookhan could actually be retried, reported NBC News.

The DAs have until April 18 to come up with the cases, expected to be in the hundreds, an official told NBC News.

The remaining cases are likely to be dismissed. The American Civil Liberties Union and public defenders wanted all the cases dismissed, noted WBZ-TV in January.

Dookhan was sentenced in 2013. Authorities had arrested her a year earlier in connection with falsifying thousands of drug tests on Massachusetts defendants, said Bostonian magazine. She had worked at the state's Department of Public Health's Hinton Laboratory since 2003.

She pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to 17 counts of obstruction of justice, eight counts of tampering with evidence, perjury, and falsely pretending to hold a degree from a college or university, said the state Attorney General's Office.

The Boston Herald said Dookhan had been released from the Framingham women's prison and is on parole.

"This drug lab scandal is another example of why the criminal justice system needs to reform its approach to forensic science," Dan Gelb, a Boston attorney who helped write an amicus brief on the Dookhan case for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "Labs shouldn't be an extension of law enforcement."

According to NBC News, critics have complained in the past that forensic chemists feel a duty to help prosecutors rather than remain neutral, while lacking professional accreditation or proper protocols to prevent and detect misconduct.

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A drug lab scandal involving a rogue chemist that dates back years could wipe away as many as 23,000 drug crime convictions in Massachusetts.
drug, lab, scandal, massachusetts
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2017-25-30
Thursday, 30 Mar 2017 07:25 AM
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