Here’s yet another example of fraud in a state crime lab, this one affecting as many as 40,000 defendants in Massachusetts. A crime lab chemist is accused of faking drug test results and has been criminally charged, prompting a review of tens of thousands of cases.
Annie Dookhan stands accused of faking test results, tampering with evidence and routinely ignoring testing protocols.
With thousands of challenges still making their way through the court system, many in the legal community believe it will be years before the cases handled by Dookhan are cleared.
Just two weeks ago, a lawyer appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to help create a database of Dookhan’s cases said more than 40,000 defendants may have been affected, about 6,000 more than officials first estimated.
“Forget having your day in court, forget having a lawyer – it’s taken us this long just to get a number on the number of cases that she tested,” said Matthew Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.“It’s been very damaging to the integrity of the justice system,” he said.
Give Massachusetts credit, at least they’re reviewing the cases that may have been affected and have notified those who were convicted and their lawyers. They’ve already released hundreds of inmates and there may be tens of thousands more by the time this is all worked through. It’s time we recognized that our criminal justice system is in a state of crisis and needs a major overhaul.