The Wrath of Dookhan: Massachusetts’ Inadvertent Experiment on Drug Decriminalization

For those of you who live outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!), you probably haven’t heard of Annie Dookhan, the drug lab chemist who was found to have falsified evidence in drug cases. Here’s a good description of falsification:

Occasionally, and allegedly, Annie thought the cops and the DA’s needed a little help, so she put her thumb on the scale. Then she put both hands on the scale. Then she jumped on the scale with both feet while wearing Doc Martens and carrying a 20-pound bag of sand in each hand. Then she repeatedly hit the scale with a sledgehammer.

As you might imagine, this has tainted numerous drug cases. You’re thinking, “It must be a real pissah to have to review hundreds of drug convictions.” It wasn’t …hundreds of cases. Try 40,000:

Governor Deval Patrick’s administration said today it believes that the criminal cases of 40,323 people may have been tainted by the actions of alleged rogue drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan and the management failures at the now-closed Department of Public Health lab where she worked…

But to the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the administration’s final tally does not fully capture the damage done to individual defendants. The Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency, believes all 190,000 cases sent through the Department of Public Health lab dating back to the early 1990s are now suspect and should be dismissed….

According to the administration, when Meier began his review last year, at least 2,000 people were incarcerated based, in part, on Dookhan’s role as the chemist who tested drug evidence and confirmed it was an illicit substance, or where she was the secondary, confirmatory chemist.

Like it or not, Massachusetts, if any manner of justice strikes the Commonwealth (God save it!), is about to embark on a rather uncontrolled experiment in drug decriminalization.


This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Drugs, Massachusetts. Bookmark the permalink.