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Massachusetts Tainted Drug Cases Thrown Out

Image: Massachusetts Tainted Drug Cases Thrown Out

In this Nov. 22, 2013 file photo, former state chemist Annie Dookhan sits in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. (David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool, File)

By    |   Friday, 21 Apr 2017 08:35 AM

More than 21,000 Massachusetts tainted drug cases connected to former state chemist Annie Dookhan have been thrown out by the state's Supreme Judicial Court this week, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The court finalized the staggering number of dismissals, called the largest in U.S. history by the ACLU, this week. Dookhan formerly worked in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and tested drug samples from law enforcement agencies from 2003 to 2012, CNN reported.

Authorities charged the former chemist with contaminating drug samples, lying about results and mishandling evidence, CNN reported. In 2013, Dookhan pleaded guilty to 27 counts – including perjury, evidence tampering, and obstruction of justice – and was sentenced to three to five years in prison.

She was released last year. In all, the court dismissed 21,587 drug cases connected with Dookhan this week, ACLU noted in a news release.

"Today is a major victory for justice, fairness, and the tens of thousands of people who were wrongfully convicted based on fabricated evidence," Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in the release.

"After four years of intense work, we are proud to have been a part of the single largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in the nation's history. As a commonwealth and champions of freedom, we have taken an important step in addressing a symptom of the war on drugs," Rose added.

Suffolk County, where Boston is located, had 7,886 dismissed drug cases connected with Dookhan, the largest number of any other county, reported MassLive.com.

"Importantly, none of the defendants whose cases were dismissed today is serving a committed sentence solely on a Dookhan-related drug conviction," Suffolk County district attorney Dan Cooley's office said in a statement. "Few, if any, who were charged only with low-level, non-violent drug offenses served even a single day behind bars."

Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel with Committee for Public Counsel Services, argued though, that people wrongly convicted of the now-dismissed cases had lost jobs, housing, and in some cases had been deported, CNN reported.

"Although this is a fair and just result now, in many respects, the damage has been done," Benedetti said, according to CNN. "Justice delayed is justice denied."

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More than 21,000 Massachusetts tainted drug cases connected to former state chemist Annie Dookhan have been thrown out by the state's Supreme Judicial Court this week, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
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2017-35-21
Friday, 21 Apr 2017 08:35 AM
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