Mass. Still Has 'Gargantuan' Cleanup Over Crooked Lab
Investigation looks at fallout over chemist Annie Dookhan's fraud
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 7, 2014 2:25 PM CDT
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)

(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.

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
heretoday
Jun 8, 2014 3:13 PM CDT
I think its odd she wasn't audited regularly and told to do tests under direct observation and evaluation. Random samples sent out to other labs to verify results also could and should have been done. Even planted items with known results could have been submitted. We do all these things to weed out the "fake it till you make it" people. Certainly an extensive and complete background check verifying her resume. Its scary people's lives are hanging in the balance and this kind of shoddy work goes on by some nameless bureaucrat. But then, anybody thats had any dealings with the government knows that.
sandrae
Jun 7, 2014 10:55 PM CDT
I did not want to say anything because it might be another type of terrorism she was effecting. Might have been discrimination she felt... or maybe, just like you have remarked. Don't be discouraged by negative remarks. You had the guts to say it. There is a legitimate reason to be "on guard" about this... American Joe.
sandrae
Jun 7, 2014 3:07 PM CDT
PG13, I like 'gargantuan' also! Scott603, I have heard the same voiced mentality by federal and state prosecutors. It's their job; it appealed to them. Should they soften and try to make sense of an unjust situation that is dangerous, they could be replaced. So, that's the nature of their beast. But my thoughts are about Annie. A sweet looking, apparently petite and attractive woman. Why would she do something like this to help a dozen few and simultaneously allow large numbers of actually guilty people to escape their penalties? It makes no sense. What does make sense to me is the possibility that she launched her own brand of terriorism on this society. We need to know what created the mad woman in her. It's there buried somewhere. Waitin' for comments, criticisms.