Massachusetts drug lab scandal: Suffolk DA overturns more than 100 convictions related to former state chemist Annie Dookhan

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced on Tuesday that her office had decided to overturn more than 100 convictions related to former state chemist Annie Dookhan, who falsified test results in hundreds of cases drug-related criminals in a scandal that rocked the Commonwealth about a decade ago.

Rollins’ office filed on Monday evening to overturn 108 so-called “List Three” convictions related to the scandal, cases prosecutors have not tried to overturn following a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in 2017, the district attorney said in a statement.

The SJC’s decision three years ago demanded district attorneys to certify that they could produce evidence in a new trial proving that the substance at issue was the drug alleged in the charge, regardless of Dookhan’s signed certificate or testimony, the statement said.

By overturning the convictions this week, the prosecutor aims to remove “the enormous stain on the justice system caused by criminal misdeeds” from Dookhan, Rollins noted.

“All of the List Three cases are forever marred by flagrant and reprehensible government misconduct – even if new convictions were to be obtained without Dookhan’s involvement,” Rollins said. the burden of Dookhan’s deception, her sad and desperate need for attention, and the enormous amount of harm she has inflicted on so many.

While working at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston, Dookhan falsified or falsified test results in more than 1,000 criminal cases, authorities said.

In 2013, the former chemist pleaded guilty to multiple counts of obstructing justice, perjury and tampering with evidence. She was sentenced to serve 3-5 years in prison and 2 years probation.

Four years later, a federal judge ordered Dookhan to pay over $ 2million to Leonardo Johnson, one of those wrongly convicted of drug trafficking.

Rollins office in May asked the SJC to quash the guilty pleas of 64 people who she said entered plea negotiations “without knowledge of evidence of their innocence or of serious misconduct in the Hinton lab.”

The shame and repercussions of the state drug lab scandal have been felt for the past fifteen years, Rollins said.

“This shameful chapter in our history will take dedication and perseverance to undo it, and I will and we must,” said the public prosecutor. “Further, we are only aware of this massive betrayal and scandal thanks to the relentless determination and relentless pursuit of justice by our Criminal Defense Bar, and in particular the work of lawyer Luke Ryan,” among other things. They owe a debt of gratitude. “‘

Since the 2017 SJC decision to put 117 cases on list three, there have been “significant and profound changes” in the political and legal landscape. A handful of cases have already been dismissed, granted new requests or renegotiated, according to the public prosecutor. The remaining convictions were those that were overturned on Monday.

“In these cases, there were mandatory minimum sentences which made it infinitely easier to persuade and exploit defendants to plead guilty,” said Rollins, noting a recent Harvard Law School study which found that the SJC cases with black and latin accused are more likely to include a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence.

The prosecutor noted that the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can have lifelong repercussions on an individual’s ability to find employment, housing and use government benefits.

She added that amid the coronavirus pandemic, with courts struggling to reopen and public defenders on leave, it makes little sense to spend resources on litigating cases related to Dookhan, some of which are over ten years old. years.

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