Framing the Guilty

This is what happens in the criminal justice culture of testalying.

Chemist in lab scandal told investigators: ‘I messed up bad’

By Brian Ballou and Andrea Estes, Boston Globe


The former state chemist at the heart of the state drug lab scandal admitted to investigators that she improperly removed evidence from storage, forged colleagues’ signatures, and didn’t perform proper tests on drugs for “two or three years,” according to a copy of a State Police report obtained by the Globe.

Annie Dookhan, whose misconduct may have jeopardized evidence in about 34,000 drug cases, also admitted that she recorded drug tests as positive when they were negative “a few times” and sometimes tested only a small sample of the drug batch that she was supposed to analyze.

However, the troopers’ interviews with other chemists in the lab make clear that Dookhan’s colleagues had concerns about her unusually large caseload and lab habits and raised them with supervisors. But the supervisors took little action even when they learned that she had forged other chemists’ initials on some drug samples.

The state lab in Jamaica Plain was closed in August after State Police discovered the potential magnitude of Dookhan’s actions. As a state chemist for nine years, Dookhan handled 60,000 drug samples and sometimes provided expert testimony in court.

Annie Dookhan, alleged rogue state chemist, may have affected 40,323 people’s cases, review finds

By David Abel, John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane, Boston Globe


Governor Deval Patrick’s administration said today it believes that the criminal cases of 40,323 people may have been tainted by the actions of alleged rogue drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan and the management failures at the now-closed Department of Public Health lab where she worked.

But to the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the administration’s final tally does not fully capture the damage done to individual defendants. The Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency, believes all 190,000 cases sent through the Department of Public Health lab dating back to the early 1990s are now suspect and should be dismissed.

“The whole thing is disturbing,” Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel for the committee said of Meier’s findings and the drug lab scandal. “I think every one of the 40,000 cases she touched should be thrown out. Whether it was possession (of illegal drugs) or distribution (of illegal drugs), the conviction is tainted because of the conduct of Annie Dookhan.”

Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU Massachusetts, said the state’s criminal justice system must do more to help those whose civil rights may have been violated by Dookhan’s alleged mishandling of evidence, and the failure of her superiors to stop it.

“David Meier’s announcement today confirms that we are no closer to solving this problem,” said Segal. “There are 40,000 people whose convictions have been potentially tainted and the vast majority of them haven’t had a day in court. Merely identifying them isn’t justice.”

In addition to unraveling hundreds of drug convictions, the scandal has also cost the state millions of dollars to pay individual prosecutors’ offices, multiple state agencies, and the judiciary searching for ways to ensure no one was wrongly convicted.

For fiscal 2013, lawmakers set aside $30 million for Dookhan-related costs, and the administration set up a procedure that required other government agencies to apply for funding to the state Administration and Finance Agency.

Today, the administration said it has approved $10.4 million in requests, of which only $7.6 million has so far been spent by the agencies involved.

But they were guilty you say.

Really?  How do you know?

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

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