Mass. Still Has 'Gargantuan' Cleanup Over Crooked Lab

Investigation looks at fallout over chemist Annie Dookhan's fraud

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 7, 2014 2:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – It was, a judge said, "nothing short of catastrophic" when a former Massachusetts police chemist pleaded guilty in 2012 to tampering with evidence, misleading investigators, and a host of other crimes. Annie Dookhan lied about credentials, forged colleagues' initials, and guessed at results. She had touched some 40,000 cases, and now the state is grappling with what may be volumes of false convictions and criminals allowed to go free, al Jazeera America reports in its own investigation of the issue.

District attorney Tim Cruz is among those dealing with the fallout; he's got a room full of files on Dookhan. The state has reversed prosecutions in dozens of cases, and Cruz's team has sent 10 cases back to trial for convictions. But if prosecutors don't decide to reverse their decision in a case, those convicted have to obtain a lawyer and fight the matter themselves—a situation the ACLU sees as an unfair hardship. "Those convictions shouldn’t stand because they were based in fraud,” says an ACLU attorney. Click for the full piece, which finds that the task of cleaning up Dookhan's mess remains "gargantuan" nearly two years after her guilty plea.

In this 2012 file photo, former Massachusetts state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan sits in Suffolk Superior Court before her arraignment in Boston.
In this 2012 file photo, former Massachusetts state drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan sits in Suffolk Superior Court before her arraignment in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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