It's been five years since former Massachusetts State Police chemist Annie Dookhan pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence while working on tens of thousands of criminal cases. But 24,000 people left with questionable convictions as a result of her fraud are still waiting to see if their names will be cleared. Not for much longer, though. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has until April 18 to decide who among the group will be re-prosecuted without evidence touched by Dookhan. And though prosecutors are still deciding on cases, a rep for the Middlesex County District Attorney says the number of convictions that will be kept on the books will likely be "in the hundreds," per NBC News. In other words, more than 95% of them will be vacated, reports the Boston Globe.
"There are no words for it … It's absolutely stunning," says a member of the National Commission of Forensic Science. While this means some who did commit crimes may see their convictions overturned, it also means those wrongfully convicted will finally get justice, including non-citizens who've been threatened with deportation, defense lawyers say. The ACLU of Massachusetts says that about 90% of the convictions are for misdemeanors or minor felonies, usually involving drug possession, and that most defendants have already finished their sentences. Dookhan herself was paroled last year. (Click for more on the scandal.)