The majority of drug cases potentially tainted by former state chemist #AnnieDookhan
will be vacated by mid-April, with just a few hundred convictions out of 24,000 remaining on the books, The Boston Globe reported, marking the denouement of 1 of the #largest #drug #lab
scandals in U.S. history. “Without putting #s
on it, it’s in the ballpark that the court was looking for,” Robert J. Bender, a Middlesex County assistant #districtattorney
, said during a March 16 hearing, according to Globe.
Since Dookhan was convicted, the Massachusetts criminal justice system has been reeling under the number of so-called “Dookhan defendants” & how to ensure justice for all of them. Dookhan managed to taint an estimated 1 in 6 #drugcases
in Massachusetts between 2003 & 2012.
The court refused to clear the cases en masse, but promised to clear the vast majority. Reason reported:
The Massachusetts chapter of the #AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion
was pressing the state’s high court to vacate the #convictions
en masse, arguing it would take 48 years to assign public defenders to each of the 24,483 defendants potentially harmed by the #Dookhan
’s dirty work.
The court declined to take such sweeping action, instead ordering state prosecutors to dismiss all cases within 90 days it would not or could not reprosecute if given a new trial. In addition, it ordered clear notifications to be sent to remaining #defendants
informing them of their right to challenge their convictions.
In a statement, Matt Segal, legal director of the #ACLU
of Massachusetts said Wednesday’s ruling “is a major victory for justice, fairness, & tens of thousands of people in the Commonwealth who were wrongfully convicted of drug offenses.” “The court has called on prosecutors to dismiss the drug charges against most of the Dookhan defendants & to provide meaningful notice to the remaining defendants, all by fixed deadlines,” Segal said. “It is now time for the DAs to step up & finally allow Massachusetts to turn the page on the worst drug lab scandal in our nation’s history, especially because the Amherst drug lab scandal involving chemist #SonjaFarak
has called into question thousands more drug convictions.”