Home / Good News / Tens of Thousands of Drug Convictions to be Overturned After State Caught Falsifying Lab Tests

Tens of Thousands of Drug Convictions to be Overturned After State Caught Falsifying Lab Tests

After years of injustice, thousands of people wrongfully convicted on drug charges in Massachusetts will finally have their convictions overturned. The ruling centers on drug lab tests that were falsified by a state-employed chemist named Annie Dookhan.

“The state’s highest court on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to drop a large portion of the more than 24,000 drug convictions affected by the misconduct of former state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan, issuing an urgent call to resolve a scandal that has plagued the legal system since 2012.”

Dookhan was imprisoned in 2013 after being charged with a suite of crimes relating to her years-long career of deceit, where she falsified tens of thousands of reports to jail innocent people. She would mark results as ‘positive’ for illegal substances without actually testing them, even adding cocaine to samples when no cocaine was present.

At sentencing, Judge Carol S. Ball stated, “Innocent persons were incarcerated, guilty persons have been released to further endanger the public, millions and millions of public dollars are being expended to deal with the chaos Ms. Dookhan created, and the integrity of the criminal justice system has been shaken to the core.

After the shocking revelations, some of the ‘Dookhan-tainted’ convictions were overturned, but when 2017 came around, 24,391 of those convictions still remained. Most of these people were poor and charged simply with possession. Many remained in prison or on parole, and many more were denied jobs and housing due to their criminal records.

The Massachusetts high court ruled that each defendant had a right to a hearing, but the cost and logistics of doing so would be unfeasible. Prosecutors sent cryptic, confusing letters to the defendants to supposedly inform defendants of their rights, which prompted the ACLU to get involved.

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Incredibly, state prosecutors were fighting to keep the convictions in place, despite justices saying these cases involved “egregious government misconduct.” Despite being victimized by a serial liar under an immoral war on drugs, each defendant had to appeal their case individually.

It’s as though the state is almost addicted to prosecuting its way out of the problem of drug abuse,” said Mathew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The addiction is so strong that the state won’t even walk away from convictions tainted by fraud. And they could walk away. Prosecutors could walk away from these cases right now.

But prosecutors didn’t walk away, and the state’s high court finally put an end to most of the injustice.

“The court said district attorneys across the state must “exercise their prosecutorial discretion and reduce the number of relevant Dookhan defendants by moving to vacate and dismiss with prejudice all drug cases the district attorneys would not or could not reprosecute if a new trial were ordered.” The cases affected by the ruling include people who pleaded guilty, were convicted, or admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them. By vacating the cases, the convictions would effectively be erased…

The court said defendants whose cases aren’t dismissed should receive a notice that their cases had been affected by Dookhan’s misconduct. Then, any indigent defendants would receive public counsel to explore requests to vacate their pleas or get new trials.”

Almost all of the defendants convicted of simple possession have already served their jail sentence. Being locked in a cage for a non-crime is enough to scar a person for life, but at least they will not be hindered the rest of their life by a conviction.

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This scandal demonstrates one way in which the war on drugs provides opportunity for the State to ruin lives for the victimless behavior of possessing a substance deemed illegal by arbitrary, baseless means. When control of the drug lab was transferred to the Massachusetts State Police, several red flags on Dookhan were ignored by superiors, and the lab silenced whistleblowers who reported Dookhan.

It all points to an insidious obsession by government to attack citizens – especially the less fortunate who have no means to fight the system – by treating drug use as criminal behavior instead of a health issue. It’s past time to end the war on drugs, which will prevent the kind of abuse carried out by Dookhan and her superiors.

  • Rixar13

    Tea Bag Busters → aka ← Bull-Shit Busters ← Filed under WTF Fun Facts. ← √

  • IceTrey

    It’s not about attacking citizens, it’s about keeping the money flowing.

    • Tyrannicus_Rex

      It’s both, attack citizens to scare them into submission, steal their money and grow the bureaucracy that becomes more needy of money and power. Prison for all involved is the appropriate measure, Dookhan by herself does not fix the problem the others perpetuated. All the judges doing the sentencing need removing and prosecution.

  • James Latham

    Cops never lie in court under oath? How many other people across this nation have records from cops lying in court? One estimate is over 100,000. Everyone makes money off arrest. Lawyers, bail bondsmen, promotions for prosecuting attorneys and cops. People sent to jail and prison and all the contracts handed out for uniforms, food, and so forth.

  • Vincent D’Emidio

    Oh, fuckin’ pigs — oops! I meant, ah, “cops”…no, actually, I meant PIGS — lie all the time. We need a clean sweep of all of the disgusting, rogue cops, and we need to replace them with TRUE Law enforcement officers.

    • Ed

      That’s up to the TRUE law enforcement officers, (See Hear & Speak No Evil) to decide!

      • Vincent D’Emidio

        Really, are those the “TRUE law enforcement officers”? Is that truly the best they got? Are there no honest men willing to stand up to this “Macho” garbage that some cops run? I mean, there’s gotta be at least some good cops, but if there is, then why must they put up with the rotten ones?

      • GeezerGrunt

        Get a clue moron. Fuck.

  • Amor Terra

    “lab silenced whistleblowers who reported Dookhan”

    Sounds like a pretty freaking huge class action lawsuit against Massachusetts to me. I’d LOVE to be on that jury!

  • Ninthlive

    Holy shit!

  • junktex

    And in such a “progressive” state.LMAO

  • MrRetloc

    What about her superiors? Did any of the district attorneys’ have knowledge of this? If the attorneys do not comply, will they be sanctioned by their respective Bar Associations?

    • blackirishblonde

      Yes, Norfolk County DA did have knowledge of this. How strange that the story behind this debacle seems to be left out.
      This was brought to light because of the inappropriate contact between an ADA and Dookhan at the Norfolk County DA’s office.
      The sad thing is that the only reason this is not still occurring is that Dookhan broke down and confessed to her own actions. No one caught it for years.
      Dookhan appeared to be doing a favor for Norfolk law enforcement officials when she was caught in June 2011 taking evidence from 60 Norfolk drug cases out of a storage area without authorization.
      The Norfolk County prosecutor who carried on an unusual and sometimes personal e-mail correspondence with controversial state chemist Annie Dookhan abruptly resigned. Morrissey. stated“He doesn’t want to be that distraction. He wants the criminal justice system to work appropriately. The two of us came to the same conclusion. He offered his resignation, and I accepted.”

  • blackirishblonde

    The Boston Globe did a “spotlight” on this~~
    How strange that the story behind this debacle seems to be left out. Are the DA’s circling the wagon? “Chemists aren’t supposed to be doing favors on a case-by-case basis for a particular police officer or prosecutor.”
    This was brought to light because of the inappropriate contact between an ADA and Dookhan at the Norfolk County DA’s office. (Michael Morrissey)
    The sad thing is that the only reason this is not still occurring is that Dookhan broke down and confessed to her own actions. No one caught it for years. Appropriate procedures were not implemented and followed to prevent this from happening. The system is broken. Will it be fixed?
    Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey admitted that he had seen only a few e-mails, and he had refused ­repeated efforts by investigators to provide him with copies of the rest of the correspondence, because he said they are “the subject of an ongoing investigation. “I don’t want to interfere.”
    Several state officials and prosecutors had expressed confusion over Morrissey’s refusal to accept the e-mails, noting that he should know if one of his subordinates had an inappropriate relationship that could jeopardize cases in his office.
    Dookhan appeared to be doing a favor for Norfolk law enforcement officials when she was caught in June 2011 taking evidence from 60 Norfolk drug cases out of a storage area without authorization.
    The Norfolk County prosecutor who carried on an unusual and sometimes personal e-mail correspondence with controversial state chemist Annie Dookhan abruptly resigned. Morrissey. stated“He doesn’t want to be that distraction. He wants the criminal justice system to work appropriately. The two of us came to the same conclusion. He offered his resignation, and I accepted.”
    So Dookhan gets punished and the DA and ADA of Norfolk County have no accountability. These same prosecutors have maintained that most of Dookhan’s defendants are not interested in opening “a closed chapter in their lives.”
    I guess it was that easy to “close that chapter of being inappropriate”” for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office ~~~~move along , nothing to see here.