November 02, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- As expected, the summer of 2012 brought plenty of heat and dry weather to the citizens of Massachusetts. What wasn't expected, however, was the scandal coming out of one of the state's premier law enforcement testing lab facilities.
That scandal is now leaving police and prosecutors in the state scrambling to sift through more than 34,000 closed and pending drug cases to ensure that sufficient evidence aside from the tainted chemical samples exists to keep those convicted behind bars, to release those whose guilt was determined solely upon the strength of the improper evidence and to seek judicial assistance to waive bail requirements for those defendants who are in jail awaiting trial.
A chemist at the lab -- Annie Dookhan -- is now facing criminal charges for her mishandling of roughly 60,000 drug samples that were evidence in more than 34,000 separate criminal cases. She was removed from chemical testing at the lab in the summer of 2011, but worked at the lab for more than nine years. Coworkers noticed Dookhan because of the sheer volume of cases she went through in that time, a rate three times faster than even more experienced chemists. No motive has been given for her alleged behavior, other than an apparent desire to advance at the lab, but she has admitted that she forged some internal lab quality assurance documentation because supervisors who are supposed to verify chemical results tests in criminal cases were busy or otherwise unavailable.
Effects of the troubles at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plains have risen far up the ranks of government officials who held the state crime labs under their purview. Both lab director Dr. Linda Han and Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach have both resigned, and the lab's director of analytical chemistry, Julie Nassaf, has been fired.
Only time will tell what the total impact of a single rogue chemist's actions will have on the tens of thousands of cases she handled during her time at the lab, nor is it clear now if the state's crime labs will be more rigorously controlled in the future. What is certain, however, is that anyone facing drug crime charges in the state runs the risk of hefty fines, lengthy jail sentences and lifelong consequences for a conviction. Whether you are facing new drug crime charges or you think your case might have been tainted by the misdeeds at the Hinton State Laboratory, consult a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Article provided by Stephen E. Dawley, P.C., Attorney at Law
Visit us at http://www.stephendawley.com---
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