More information regarding the chemist at the heart of the largest criminal justice scandal in Massachusetts history is coming out. According to the Boston Globe, Annie Dookhan is alleged to have ignored safeguards put in place to ensure fair trials in Massachusetts drug cases. She is also alleged to have tampered with evidence in different ways that may now result in the dismissal of thousands of Eastern Massachusetts drug cases. As a chemist in the Jamaica Plain state lab, her lab tests impact cases throughout eastern Massachusetts involving over 34, 000 people.
Max Stern the president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys wrote a letter to the members stating that he was given more details about the chemist. Apparently Ms Dookin had access to the drug safe and evidence room, and that access was unsupervised. Ms. Dookin had tampered with the evidence bags and added to the weight of drugs. She also claimed to have calibrated the scales yet she did not. The most alarming allegation is that she changed non drug samples to positive drug samples.
In Massachusetts drug cases are proved by the District Attorney after they have been tested and certified to be drugs from a state lab. In more cases than her co-workers Ms. Dookin was the lab chemist. In fact she is said to have worked 50% more than any other co-worker. In 2004, for example, Dookhan processed 9,239 samples while her peers on average tested 2,938 samples.
In criminal trials earlier coworkers would testify under oath about Dookhan’s lab results, causing the state police to begin an investigation.
I anticipate that there will be more fallout in the coming days as to the scandal at the state’s drug lab.