March 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Widespread consequences likely in Massachusetts drug lab scandal
Article provided by Carleen & Caramanica, P.C.
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A chemist formerly employed by a Massachusetts drug lab was accused in September 2012 of tampering with tens of thousands of drug samples over a period of nine years, allegedly falsifying the results used in a multitude of criminal cases.
34,000 criminal cases may have been affected
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered a "file-by-file" review of every case handled by the chemist over the nine years she was employed at a Department of Public Health drug lab -- roughly 34,000 cases, according to the former state prosecutor appointed to identify cases.
The review team has already identified approximately 10,000 people whose drug cases may have been affected by the alleged misconduct, WBUR reported. Reviews were initially focused on identifying around 2,000 individuals who were already in prison or pre-trial custody in cases involving the potentially flawed drug tests, and many of those cases are now making their way through the court system.
Because of the high volume of cases being challenged as a result of the drug lab scandal, the Massachusetts criminal courts have had to add special sessions in addition to their usual docket. Top priority was given to defendants who were already in custody in order to give them an opportunity to seek release on bail while their challenges are pending.
In addition to those already in custody, another 7,000 to 8,000 individuals have been identified who were previously convicted in Superior Court but have since been released. Thousands of additional cases tried in district or municipal courts may also be affected, WBUR reported.
Costly fallout of drug test tampering
Along with the potential legal ramifications for the thousands of individuals whose cases may have been influenced by falsified drug lab results, the scandal could have other far-reaching implications for Massachusetts law enforcement, and even for the state's economy as a whole.
Some experts estimate that it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars just to review the cases affected, according to the Boston Herald, and it remains unclear exactly where that money will come from. Some fear that the financial fallout could drain funds from other areas of law enforcement in the state. Others worry about how to reestablish the integrity of the crippled drug lab system, which reportedly has a current backlog of about 10,000 drug tests. Another issue of concern is how the Massachusetts court system will withstand the strain put on it by the sudden influx of cases.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a drug crime in Massachusetts, it is important to talk to a lawyer about your situation as soon as you can. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will help you understand your legal options and will work hard to ensure that your rights are protected.---
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